For transgender teens, the question of what to wear can be a tough one

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Photo: Transgender model Andreja Pejic
Transgender model Andreja Pejic on a rooftop in New York. Pejic has walked shows for designers Jean-Paul Gaultier and Marc Jacobs.

How much time do you spend thinking about what to wear every morning? Five minutes? Ten?

A quick fashion decision is something many may take for granted, including Colorado high school teacher Benjamin Dancer.

Recently, Dancer interviewed four transgender teenagers, ages 15 to 20, about fashion for a popular culture magazine with a feminist slant. He asked them five questions about their style choices and the challenges they encounter each morning as they stare into their closets.

His takeaway: what we wear says a lot about who we are or who we think we’re supposed to be.

This puts a lot of pressure on teens still trying to figure that out.

For 20-year-old transgender Kylar Luckinbill, one of the teens Dancer spoke to for his article, the daily experience of deciding what to wear can be extremely challenging.

Luckinbill says wearing baggy jeans and shirts makes him feel the most comfortable and “safe” because it will hide any feminine physical traits, such as a bust line. But, with a naturally petite build, it’s hard for Luckenbill to find mature clothes that let’s him be himself as well as feel accepted by his peers.

According to a study conducted by LGBT advocacy group One Colorado Education Fund, transgenders show much higher rates of depression, suicide and thoughts of suicide.

“It’s not because these folks identify as transgender," Leo Kattari, the group's health policy manager, told CPR last November. "It’s because of the daily occurrences of discrimination, bias and stigma that transgender Coloradans experience.”

Luckinbill hopes American fashion and assumptions about gender identity will evolve someday to make room for everyone. Particularly, Luckinbill wants to see a shift from the binary -- no longer dividing everything into male and female.