Archive for the Category »Identity: Femme Drag Queen «
Cross-posted on The Femme’s Guide here.
Femme–an identity that has caused controversy, celebration and ridicule–is now the topic of a two-volume set from Homofactus Press and editor Jennifer Clare Burke titled Visible: A Femmethology. Femmethology calls the LGBTQI community on its own prejudice and celebrates the diversity of individual femmes. Award-winning authors, spoken-word artists, and totally new voices come together to challenge conventional ideas of how disability, class, nationality, race, aesthetics, sexual orientation, gender identity and body type intersect with each contributor’s concrete notion of femmedom. - from femmethology.com
This month of April marks something I’ve been waiting for quite some time: the Femmethology virtual blog tour! Today is lucky enough to be my day, and so I’m sharing some of my feelings and insights related to the Femmethology. Visit Daphne Gottlieb tomorrow for her day, and all the sites at the bottom of the post on their days.
First, a little about the Femmethology:
Visible: A Femmethology
Femmethology is essential—a roadmap of Femme Nation, an index, an anthropology, a manifesto, and a googleology. – Dorothy Allison
Visible: a Femmethology is a two-volume anthology of essays revolving around femme identity.
I’ve been discovering and embracing my multigendered identity lately, but in that multigendered identity there is a solidly femme identity as well, which these books helped me remember.
Not that I had forgotten my femme identity, I just had been focusing more consciously on my fagette identity than my femme because it was new and in a way easier to focus on because it’s more visible (though only slightly). The identities in no way are opposites, they are complimentary, but they are also different. Reading through the Femmethology in a way re-connected me with my femme identity.
The biggest benefit of the Femmethology, in my opinion, is that it helps remind us that we are not alone as femmes. While some of us have many femme friends and a wonderful support system the rest of us do not and we have to navigate the world without much reassurance and reminders that there are so many of us out there feeling the same things. This is one of the reasons I started The Femme’s Guide in the first place, to emphasize that there are many of us out there, and while we’re all different we are also all the same.
I was moved many times throughout the two volumes. There were authors I knew well or moderately well, from various avenues such as Sinclair Sexsmith, Sassafras Lowrey, and Tara Hardy. There were many other authors that I didn’t know anything about, but I was able to get to know something about them through their stories.
Many stories touched me to the core, rocked me, and left me dazed and contemplating my own stories and my own identities.
I feel that Visible: A Femmethology is not just a book or anthology meant to be read, though it certainly is that as well, it’s also a look into each of these femme’s lives and voices, an adventure into different types of femme-ininity and different experiences that all somehow are similar because of this identity we all embrace and inhabit. It shows the vastness of femme while also showing what unites us.
It screamed “you are not alone” to me right when I needed it.
From the Introduction to the anthology: “Femme means I won’t compromise on complexity. … Above all, my femme is not your femme, which is the good news. … Femme means my sexuality, my partner choices, my definitions and my gender presentation might not match your labels.”
You can order Volume 1 and Volume 2 through the fabulous Homofactus Press.
You can also hear Sinclair Sexsmith reading his Love Letter to Femmes!
Check out the blogs below on the associated dates to learn more about the Femmethology volumes:
4/1. Sugarbutch Chronicles
4/2. Ellie Lumpesse
4/4. CyDy Blog
4/6. Catalina Loves
4/7. cross-post: The Femme’s Guide and Femme Fagette
4/8. Daphne Gottlieb
4/9. Bilerico Project
4/10. Screaming Lemur: Femme-inism and Other Things
4/13. The Femme Hinterland
4/14. Bochinche Bilingüe: Borderlands Writing and The Vagina Adventures
4/15. Dorothy Surrenders
4/16. Miss Avarice Speaks Her Mind
4/17. The Femme Show
4/19. Sexuality Happens
4/20. Queer Fat Femme
4/21. Sublimefemme Unbound
4/22. Tina-cious.com and Jess I Am (butch-femme couple day!)
4/24. The Lesbian Lifestyle
4/25. Femme Fluff
4/26. Weldable Cookies
4/27. The Verbosery
4/28. A Consuming Desire and Creative Xicana
There are so many ways to play with and express gender and gender deviance, from subtle to in-your-face and everywhere in between. What I’ve been trying to figure out in the last few weeks is how to reconcile my femme and fagette identities into a conceivable whole. I’m often not sure it’s even possible, but I’m trying at least.
I was asked not too long ago on FetLife “how do you find the harmony of being both without being confused or feel like you’re betraying one half of yourself at the expense of expressing the other?”
Part of my response:
“Unfortunately, I don’t have a good answer for that question. I do often feel confused or like I am betraying parts of myself, but I can only realize that there is almost no way to not feel that way and in realizing try not to feel that betrayal. It’s difficult to almost never have my own gender perceived or acknowledged by those around me. I think that is one of the worst things about being gender-fluid, or any sort of multigendered, that it’s difficult or nearly impossible to get validation from others on your gender because there’s not an easy way to express gender fluidity, if it can be expressed at all in all it’s vastness. Since people want to categorize everyone they meet and since we are conditioned to view gender as binary it’s difficult to exist outside of that binary in the gender galaxy at large.”
My issue with this moves beyond being multigendered into the fact that not only am I multigendered but that due to my appearance I’m easily read by the outside world as cisgendered. It’s similar to femme invisibility, though the issue is gender invisibility rather than queer invisibility. While femme is a large part of my gender identity it is not all of it.
Femme gender and queerness is what is invisible, what people have trouble seeing or what people gloss over. Because my primary gender presentation is femme I have the same issues but with the added fagette twist. This isn’t to say that my invisibility is more than that of femmes because it’s not, it’s just a slightly different kind of the same invisibility.
Of course, it doesn’t help that I’m involved with a cisgendered male. I’m used to people not seeing my queerness especially when we’re together, and I’m used to people not seeing my fagette side because it can also look very femme.
It’s human nature to look for recognition in others, and look for others like you. Even while I’m used to people not seeing these things in me that doesn’t mean I still don’t want them to. I am slowly coming to embrace the fact that it doesn’t matter as much what other people see as long as I know how I feel and am being me to the best of my ability. It’s difficult, but it’s something I’m trying to do.
A few butches on twitter were talking about cross-dressing a while ago, I know Kyle and Sinclair were among them and don’t remember who else, but they said that when asked if they cross-dress daily they would say no because cross-dressing to them would be wearing a skirt. I began to question my own cross-dressing, and part of me thinks I do cross-dress daily.
I think clothes for me are cross-dressing, clothes for me are drag. Sometimes I think I’ve just internalized pomo rhetoric to the extent that I really don’t feel like I have an inherent draw to some gender or another. I know that even though all gender is drag that doesn’t mean that people don’t have a pull to some sort of gender expression or another. I do have a pull to gender expression, but I don’t know what gender expression is pulling me to it.
I wear skirts. I don’t wear pants. Honestly, I don’t wear pants because they are confining and uncomfortable. Although I can’t say that has nothing to do with the meaning of pants in our society since that is so ingrained in us and I’m sure it’s still ingrained in me, but I can say that my conscious reasoning behind it doesn’t have to do with that.
My only issue with skirt wearing is that it’s difficult to be androgynous in a skirt. Or, let me rephrase: it’s difficult to be perceived as androgynous in a skirt. If I were male in a skirt that would be clear, but female in a skirt seems to be perceived as nothing but feminine. Since cutting my hair short I’ve gotten a few more double-takes, a few more curious looks, but I’m generally dismissed as a short-haired girl regardless of how much I try to play with my femme fagette expression.
There are nights I feel more like a femme and nights I feel more like a fagette, and nights where I’m not sure what the fuck I am. The only harmony I can find is by overanalyzing, exploring, and allowing myself and my gender to grow and evolve.
Recently I’ve been thinking about and exploring the idea of packing. Somehow packing has come up quite a bit in the last few weeks, both in the form of reviews (both Holden and Erin Leone have reviewed packies recently) and pictures (Kyle shared some with us for HNT). I’d been thinking about packing in a peripheral way before these all came out, but they definitely brought it to the forefront for me.
I just recently received Silky in the mail, just yesterday actually. A almost flesh-colored cock that has a bendable spine in the middle enabling the user to bend it to any shape the six inches of shaft can bend to. I enjoy making it S shaped and such just to see how well it bends. Because Silky is so bendable it’s also great for hard packing (as opposed to soft packing). One of the main reasons I got Silky is to see how it works for packing.
I packed with Silky for a while last night, though I did it just around the house. It was unusual, but I definitely liked it. The thing about packing isn’t about wanting to have a penis, at least not for me and not for the people I’ve talked about packing with, it’s more of a focal point for gendered energy. It was a reminder more than anything else, something to draw my attention and to bring my consciousness to my gender.
While I was packing I was wearing a dress. My Silky was not really noticeable under the dress at all, unless I sat cross-legged and the dress draped over Silky, but even when that happened it wouldn’t have been apparent unless one was looking for it. It isn’t meant to be obvious, though, and just the fact that I’m packing under a skirt is genderfucky enough for me. The glaring gender “contradiction” is where I thrive. It’s where I find my harmony, even if no one else knows about it.Possibly related posts:
My heart hurts a little. I woke up yesterday to an attack on my gender, which if you follow me on twitter you’ve probably already heard about.
I wrote a post not too long ago on The Femme’s Guide about my newfound femme fagette identity, my multigendered femme identity and I was hoping for a while that more people would comment on it, so I suppose this is the one of those “be careful what you wish for” moments.
I woke up to this comment:
You are a cissexual person appropriating the expriences of trans women and other MtF-side trans people.
Wearing a feather boa and badly-applied lipstick that is the wrong color for you with your t-shirt and half-assed fauxhawk does not make you a drag queen and isn’t even particularly femme.
You are not a starfish, snowflake, or magical twinkling unicorn, and your personal identity is not a form of activism.
Pretty much a direct personal attack on my person, my gender, and my appearance. I replied well, or so I thought, but apparently I was being condescending and though I was trying not to be defensive it’s difficult not to be defensive when someone is out and out attacking you.
The comments went on, but one person stopped commenting and another took over. This second commenter was much more reasonable and constructive, she didn’t attack just told me to pay attention, basically, which I am grateful for. You can read all the comments here, many of which are insightful and thoughtful not just personal attacks.
The big issue that was offensive was they thought I was trying to appropriate trans experiences, which I wasn’t. Here is part of my latest comment:
When I talk about gender I’m not talking about anything “biological.” Never in the post did I talk about my sex, only my gender, and I get attacked with “you’re cissexual trying to be a trans woman” which is not at all what I’m saying. Am I cissexual? Very probably. I’ve never had a real affinity toward my sex, I don’t “feel” female (whatever that means) but I don’t feel male either so I’ve thought about reassignment surgery but, like the quote above, I’ve “decided that would not resolve my gender conflicts.” (Note: the quote I am referring to is the same one in this post) Part of the reason I love that quote. As Riki Wilchins said, you can say “I feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body” (or in my case, woman’s) and get results, but if you say “I feel like a herm trapped in a man’s body” people don’t understand and would think you’re crazy. (And I do know hermaphrodite is not a positive word, I was, however, quoting Riki from the book Genderqueer.) If I had my way I would be able to change sex frequently, but since I can’t do that, that’s what my gender and strap-ons are for. ;) (Though I know that’s not the same as transitioning, that’s supposed to be a bit of a joke.)
As for appropriation, I wasn’t trying to appropriate trans experiences in any way shape or form. This comes down to a language issue. Am I transsexual? No. Do I feel like Patrick did when he wrote the quote above? Definitely. I was agreeing with his sentiments, using the same language, and he wasn’t transitioning then either. The problem is that I don’t have any language for what I’m feeling or experiencing, the best I can do is use the language around me and try to make sense of myself as best I can. Just because I use language that sounds similar to trans experiences doesn’t mean I’m claiming to be trans, it just means I don’t have any better words, and that’s my fault for not finding any. I am multigendered. I never claimed to be trans in the post and I’m not trying to claim to be transsexual. I may be transgendered but that depends on the definition. I do not use gender and sex interchangeably.
Through these comments (the constructive ones, anyway) I have been made to think more about my gender and my definitions and experiences. I may repeat myself a bit from the quote above, so apologies if I do.
While I’m not transitioning I haven’t ruled it out completely, I just don’t think it would solve anything. I don’t feel female or male, I’m not sure what that’s supposed to feel like. I like having breasts and orifices, but I also like having a cock (though mine’s silicone, granted, and that’s not the same). I like the idea of growing facial hair, of my voice deepening, but I like my breasts and don’t want to get rid of them. I’ve felt for a while that I would feel most “me” as an intersexed person, somewhere between male and female. I’m not trying to appropriate the experiences of an intersexed person, I’m just saying I don’t feel male or female.
I have been feeling more masculine lately, not sure why I just have, more of my fagette side than the femme. Yet I don’t wear pants. Granted, gender is more than the clothes you wear it’s an attitude, a feeling, which is partly why my masculine gender is fagette as it’s a feminine masculinity. I never wear pants, or, almost never, I wear pants when I go to the gym and that’s pretty much it. Can I be masculine in a skirt or dress? I think so! Though not all would.
The big issue here is it is felt that I am trying to appropriate trans experiences. This too, is a limitation of language. I’m not transsexual, I freely admit that, and I’m not trying to say that I’m a trans woman, far from it! I used similar language, but I did not mean to appropriate anything. I do not think my experience is in any way shape or form similar to that of a trans woman.
I do think I am transgendered, however, though that depends highly on the definition of transgender, and I usually use genderqueer over transgender but they are similar though not the same. I know that is not the same as being transsexual (in my and many others definition). I don’t feel like I fit in with my culturally assigned gender. I am not a typical femme (whatever that means) or a typical feminine female, I embrace masculinity and femininity and rework them into me in a way that works for me. I enjoy drag of every kind, and I love to change my gender expression at the drop of a hat. I’m genderqueer.
When I walk down the street do I think that people see my gender as I see it? Not at all. I’m not easily identifiable, as I’m not easily categorized. I use the terms femme and fagette but what do either of those really mean outside of my own definitions? They’re so open to interpretation that I often don’t know what I mean by them, but I know I identify with them.
I try to learn as much as I can about gender and sex differences. I have a degree in Gender Studies focused on gender and sexuality issues. I try not to be offensive but obviously that doesn’t always happen. I try to understand as much as I can, but I don’t think it’s possible to fully understand the experience of another even if you have gone through a similar experience and definitely not if your experiences don’t come close. I have read a lot, but it’s never enough to avoid misunderstandings like this. I don’t really have any answers yet, but I’m thinking about it, and I think that’s important.
Although I was caused much pain yesterday from the hurtful and attacking way the comments started I’m glad that this issue was brought to my attention, as it’s not something I had considered before. I admit my own ignorance on this freely. All I can do is learn from the experience and try to be more precise with my wording in the future.Possibly related posts:
A few quick thoughts tonight. I feel like I have so much to write about and so much to do lately that I’m not really getting anything done, which irritates me. More posts to come!
I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote lately, from PoMoSexuals “Identity Sedition and Pornography” by Pat Califia p. 88 emphasis mine:
Just to set the record straight: I am a female-bodied person who writes about every kind of person I can imagine. Although I briefly contemplated sex reassignment when I was much younger, I decided that would not resolve my gender conflicts. I’m never sure if I have a gender dysphoria or species dysphoria. I often try to explain that I’m really a starfish trapped in a human body and I’m very new to your planet. Or that in fact I am a woman trapped in a man’s body, which really confuses other people but makes sense to me.
It’s fitting where I feel I fit, where I’ve felt for a while. The drag queen masculine femininity that I cling to, the femme fagette in me that is starting to come out even more. I’ve found a better way to express it lately I think, which is making me indescribably joyful, and I’m discovering more about it too, which makes me even more happy.
Onyx and I went into Babeland tonight and looked around. I pointed out toys I wanted, toys that are (hopefully) coming to me soon, and things like that. I had my first encounter with Mr. Bendy while looking at dildos and soft packs and he’s seriously lustable! I kind of (very much) want one, great for packing and playing, which I like.
I’m toying with the idea of packing more often, but as I primarily wear skirts and dresses I would need a soft pack or a cock like Mr. Bendy that will stay bent.
The other thoughts rolling around my brain is that Femmeinist Fucktoy isn’t resonating with me as much as it used to. It went down when I discovered my switchness however long ago, as fucktoy is a very bottom-centric term, and it’s gone down again now that fagette is a larger part of my identity as well.
I also don’t talk as much about feminist-oriented things as I thought I would when I started this blog. Granted, I do believe that talking about gender and sexuality is a feminist act, but that’s not quite the same as being a feminist blog.
My point in bringing this up is that I’m pondering changing the name, and therefore also the URL of the blog. It’s easyish to transition to another URL and name, but what I’m thinking of changing it to is Femme Fagette.
In talking with Onyx about this he mentioned that naming the blog after an identity might not be the best thing to do, as my identities tend to fluctuate rapidly. While I agree with that I feel like this identity will stay around for a while, but I don’t really know that for sure. Thoughts?Possibly related posts:
Yes, yes, it’s not Thursday anymore, but, I don’t subscribe to your limiting ideas of the days it’s acceptable to post a Half Nekkid Thursday post, so I’m posting mine on Friday! Plus, I’ve been moving and I wasn’t really online much at all yesterday, so cut me some slack!
Okay, well, now that that’s out of the way… I’m not sure what possessed me, maybe it’s just being in a new city and thirsting for change of any type that I can get my hands on, or maybe it’s just time that I let my long hair go, I’m not sure, but I cut my hair the other day.
I’ve been changing it a lot lately, as you may or may not have noticed. Not too long ago it was bright red and past my shoulders, and when I wasn’t finding any jobs in SLC I decided to get it to a slightly more normal color.
Shortly after that I decided to cut it to a little above my chin, which is where it remained until Tuesday night when I cut it myself, and then Wednesday I had it professionally trimmed/styled.
It’s been shorter than this before (amusingly enough that picture was also taken in Seattle). I’ve shaved my head before as well, and I used kept it about this length, or anywhere from one to three inches, for many years. A few years ago I decided to start growing it out, and watched it fall to chin-length, shoulder-length, and, finally, past my shoulders.
Maybe it’s something about the Pacific Northwest that makes me want short hair, I don’t know, but something made me desire short hair, and specifically to be able to do my hair up into a fauxhawk.
I wanted a cut that I could have look femme if I chose or put up in a fauxhawk or otherwise spike or slick to be boi-ish or fagette-ish. So that’s what I did. I decided that fauxhawk + lipstick = fagette (though that’s one of infinite combinations, of course).
Here’s a snippit of my latest post on The Femme’s Guide, though you’ll have to go there to finish it.
Much by accident I just came across this quote:
Marilyn was revered as a tigress, but she was loved (and pitied) as a kitten. In that sense her sexuality did not present a challenge; vulnerability made her manageable–it guaranteed her femininity.
The threat of other lustful man-killers is diminished by intimations of their androgyny. Mae West looked all girl but her style was decidedly butch. “It’s [men's] game,” she says with trademark smarminess of her multiple, casual seductions in She Done Him Wrong. “I happen to be smart enough to play it their way.” Marlene Dietrich in tux and top hat is also both hyperfeminine and faux homme, a man in drag in drag. -My Enemy, My Love By Judith Levine p. 92
It goes on to talk about the book’s real point in bringing this up: the antipode to the Seducer or femme fatale, The Slave. But, that’s not really what intrigued me about it. I especially love this line: Mae West looked all girl but her style was decidedly butch. It is an angle I hadn’t really contemplated before, but basically Mae West as femme. It’s pretty damn obvious now that I’m thinking about it, but it just wasn’t a connection I’d made before. Though she wasn’t queer in the sense of sleeping with women, but she did have an affinity toward gay men and wrote The Drag.
The two ways used to describe Mae West and Marlene Dietrich are both incredibly queer, while Marilyn Monroe is more of an archetype for traditional femininity. Mae West was femme in look, butch in action, or simply a description of a type of queer femininity, or simply femmeininity. Marlene Dietrich was a man in drag in drag, a queer masculinity on a female body so that it is not the same as masculine because it is also overtly feminine.
For a long time I wondered if I was just trying to make up an identity that isn’t necessary. If I was so transphilic maybe I was just making up an identity so that I wouldn’t be cisgendered. Is that the case? I still wonder that, but reading through Pomosexuals has helped me realize that I’m not the only female-assigned person to have this conflict inside of me, I’m not even the only female-assigned bi-/pan-sexual/queer person to love queer men and women and to have a boi personae as well as a femme personae, as also evidenced by The Leather Daddy and the Femme.
Still, that nagging fear that I’m just trying to not be cisgendered (not that there’s anything wrong with being cisgendered, but as I mentioned, I’m rather transphilic so it’s not as much a conscious desire not to be cisgendered, but one I wonder if I have internalized), that I’m trying to make more of something that’s inside of me and not exactly being true to it, that fear makes me doubt and question, and I hate it. I’m not sure how to prove to myself that this is the case, except to examine it, embrace it, and see how it feels.
I’ve said for years that my embraced drag queen identity was not just about all gender being drag, but also because I identify with a type of femininity that can not exactly be expressed by female-assigned people. It’s a queer over-the-top femininity that I love and identify with, it’s similar to femme but it’s not quite the same. Part of that identification, I think, is being “larger than life” or, larger than society tells women we are allowed to be. My fatness allows me to inhabit a space that non-fat women can’t (pun intended).
In addition to just being fat I’m also tall, about 5′10″, and have always been tall. I was 5′8″ by 7th grade, I’ve worn size 11 shoes also since 7th grade. I remember being proud of that, proud to wear my freak label, proud to be taller than most of the boys in my class, proud to be large and queer and strange and a freak. It was difficult at times, but I embraced and owned my queerness from an early age, because I knew that there wasn’t another way for me to be.
I identify with drag queens, but I also identify with femmes. It’s two different yet similar kinds of fem(me)ininity, and I try to inhabit them both at different times, perhaps that’s another personae I need to adopt a name for, to adequately seperate the differences so that I can analyze them easier, so that I can understand her better.
The truth is I have multiple personas within me, each with hir own voice, each needing recognition, and so I’m trying to recognize all of them, but it’s a long and dubious process. I’m not sure I’ll ever know all of them fully, but I have to try, otherwise I will be out of touch with myself. Each personae has different desires, and I fully intend to figure them all out.
The first step to analyzation is to recognize that which you are analyzing, right? Otherwise you aren’t able to analyze something you don’t know about. These “Identity Musings” posts have been about just that, going back to track the expansion and development of these identities in a new way, so that I am able to recognize these different aspects of myself and therefore come to a greater understanding of them. I have a more specifically queer related one on the way (since these have dealt mostly with gender).Possibly related posts:
Continued from the post yesterday, Identity Musings – Part 1 I encourage you to read that first if you have not.
I started leaning back toward femme the last year of high school. I didn’t have any serious relationships during high school, the few queer girls I knew either had boyfriends, didn’t seem interested, or I didn’t know them, and I wasn’t attracted to boys in my high school with the exception of very few. I lost my virginity at 16, the day it was legal for me to fuck someone over 18, to a man I didn’t really know. I don’t regret it, mostly I just wanted to get that whole virginity thing out of the way, but I do sometimes forget it happened.
I’m not sure what leaned me back toward femme, and, really, in some ways I had never left it. I was a wonderful mixture of butch and femme: keeping my hair short but wearing wigs when desired, wearing any manner of clothing I felt like, skirts, dresses, pants, capris, suits. I wore a suit to my junior prom: black coat, shirt, and pants with pink tie, socks, and hair to match my date’s dress. I look back on that time and realize in some ways I had my own gender figured out better than I do now.
I had this intense desire to grow my hair out, partially so that I would actually start attracting anyone. I didn’t think I was terribly attractive, but I looked back at myself with long hair and thought maybe that was the issue. I don’t believe that’s the case, but it was one of those non-logical I-really-want-to-get-laid-or-at-least-have-some-sort-of-sexual-encounter-with-someone-to-sate-my-skin-hunger type of things, so I started growing it out.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my long hair, but I miss it being short. I definitely had this “boy phase” from middle school to near the end of high school, what I thought was a butch phase, but I really do think it was a bit more than that. I wouldn’t play female roles in plays for a few years (and I was in a lot of plays), and the first one I did rather reluctantly.
I embraced that genderqueer boi inside of me so wholly, and I really was more of a boy than anything, but I was often a cross-dressing boy.
When I have expressed my confusion regarding my gender, my need to have both of these in me, I’ve had people not quite understand what the issue is, why I can’t just be “in the middle”, why I can’t be both, where the confusion is coming from. There are also people who express their own blend of masculinity and femininity when I mention it, they say that they don’t feel that pull, that they exist with a little of both and don’t understand that pull either.
If I feel like a femme, why hasn’t that been enough? If I feel butch, why hasn’t that been enough? I’ve thought multiple times that because I could be butch I should be, because we need more butches around. But then I know that wouldn’t be honest with myself.
In some ways I feel like a transsexual femme, that I used to be a boy and now I am femme. Looking back I really do see the gender trends of my life rather clearly.
I feel like I started as a boy who liked girls things, but who was a boy, we’ll call him Sebastian. I was a queer boy who liked boys and girls, even though I looked like a girl I was still a boy. I grew up to be a boy, and then I decided to change and become a femme. Then I was a femme, I embraced that femme and she felt good, we’ll call her Scarlet. Now I’m realizing that while Scarlet is as perfect as I first thought her to be, that she fits me just like she originally did when I first had that femme-epiphany-moment, that she is not enough for me. I miss Sebastian, but I don’t want to give up Scarlet, I want to be both.
The thing is I’m both boi and femme, both male and female, both masculine and feminine, both Sebastian and Scarlet, and I always will be. I’m also not a mixture of the two. I’m not somewhere in between boi and femme, I don’t have my own planet that is a mixture of the two that I orbit around, no, I am a boi and I am a femme, sometimes completely separately and sometimes at the same time, but they are always to distinct identities. I have two different planets that I orbit around, and sometimes I orbit around both and sometimes I orbit around neither.
I have suppressed Sebastian for quite a while, but he is coming back with the realization that I need both of them to be whole. I am working on regaining that. And, who knows, maybe I’ll find another personae hidden in there as well, someone completely different than Scarlet or Sebastian.
Continue the musings with part 3…Possibly related posts:
I’ve been reading Pomosexuals for the last week or so, and loving it immensely. I read it while I’m on the elliptical at the gym, and I end up thinking about all these wonderful things that I would like to post about while I’m nowhere near my computer, or even paper to write ideas down with. This post has been swimming around in my head for days, thinking about how I got to the identities I embrace now.
Since gender, I think, is difficult to disentangle with sex and sexuality, I will be talking about all of those in this. It will be as much my general identity progression as it will be my gender identity progression, just focused a little more heavily on gender. Also, since this is turning out very long, it will be in two parts.
Any or all of these memories may not be entirely as they happened, as with all memories, but they are as I remember them.
I remember being younger–pre-school age, so 3 or 4–and taking a bath with my then-best-friend who was a boy, I remember us doing the “that’s weird” thing regarding each others genitals, wondering about the differences. I recall knowing the terms vagina and penis, though that may be that my brain at some point added them, and I remember remarking that my clitoris (I didn’t know what it was called at that point) was like a little penis. It’s not that I expected my clitoris to turn into a penis, or thinking that I was a boy, but I didn’t think there was much of a difference between them. Of course, I know now that they come from the same tissue, but that wasn’t exactly what I was thinking at the moment.
I remember growing up and liking dresses, while my (very 2nd wave feminist) mother did not like me liking dresses. She didn’t discourage me from wearing them exactly, but she would suggest that I did not wear them. The same goes with pink. Pink was never my favorite color (that elusive childhood obsession of a “favorite color” which changed nearly weekly), but I always have loved purple, and I think I would have liked pink sooner if it wasn’t for my mothers “yuck” reaction to it.
I remember my best friend M had a cinderella dress, and I coveted it. I remember liking to wear satiny nightgowns and have sleepovers with friends where we would play by rubbing our mounds together. I remember pretending to get married, and I would always be the preacher, rarely the bride or the groom.
I remember being girly, and I remember loving it. I was a femme, until I hit puberty, but I never “felt” female, I’m not even sure what that means. I think I mean that I didn’t really identify with being female or being a woman, though I did like girly things. I remember having “crushes” on boy celebrities that I wasn’t really attracted to, but that my friends A and T both did, and I was trying to fit in.
I remember hitting middle school and starting to wear all black when I used to wear all sorts of other colors. I came out to my then-best-friend W on the school bus before school in seventh grade, saying “I think I’m bisexual.” We talked about it, and he was cool with it, I’m not sure he quite knew what that meant. I remember having that spread around without my wishes, and then my own firm desire to spread it around.
I was sexual since sixth grade, or earlier maybe, but sixth was the first time I really started thinking about it, I had my first in fifth (October 10th–my best friend’s birthday party, it was a swimming party and I remember having to use a tampon for the first time that very first time I bled). I used to read romance novels, I read over sixty of them (I labeled them with numbers in my own OCD way), I was enamored with penetration, but lusted after the girls more than the guys. I masturbated… a lot.
When I was fourteen (though I certainly didn’t look fourteen) my older sister took me to Babeland (then Toys in Babeland) and bought me my first sex toy, a glow-in-the-dark bullet that I loved until it died (from overuse?).
I cut my hair short (about two inches) freshman year of high school. I started wearing pants more than skirts, though I still wore skirts because I’ve always loved them. I was very much a goth/punk butch fagette. I dyed my hair just about every shade of every color you can think of (ROYGBIV and more), and had all sorts of combinations, including pink with blue tips, yellow with green tips, pink and purple mixed around, red and purple, purple and white, and a very cool looking rainbow.
I was very out. I started the Gay/Straight Alliance at my High School my Junior year, and was the president that year and the next. I organized both high-school and community wide events. I worked with PFLAG and went to some of their meetings. Most people thought I was a lesbian, some of the people in my hometown still do, even though I was very out as bisexual. A friend’s lesbian mothers were surprised when she told them I was with a man.
I’ve been told that I was an inspiration to those around me, that I have helped them discover themselves and not be afraid of doing what they wanted or wearing what they wanted, because I was there to be a little more bizarre so they could go to their own personal extreme.
More of the path it took me to get here in part 2…Possibly related posts:
Sinclair brought up a great point the other day in his post define: cisgender that I want to touch upon and explore. Now, I’ve had cisgender in my lexicon since I started this site, and have been in the process of reading the book Sinclair mentions in his post, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity for longer than that (though am currently starting it over now that I’m not in school and can devote more attention to it). Whipping Girl is also where I got the definitions of traditional vs. oppositional sexism used in my definition of femmeinism. Needless to say, I think it’s brilliant, and look forward to finishing it.
For those of you who have not read Sinclair’s post (though I highly encourage you to), here is a definition of cisgender: people whose gender aligns with the cultural expectations of their sex and who have only ever experienced their subconscious and physical sexes as being aligned (e.g. feminine female, masculine male). “The word has its origin in the Latin-derived prefix cis, meaning “on the same side” as in the cis-trans distinction in chemistry.”
Now, back to the point. I have used the term “bio-female” in my gender/sexuality/general description for quite some time, and quite purposefully. Ever since reading Sinclair’s post I have been questioning this, and as you may notice I have taken it out of my description on the sidebar and in my about page. I have done this for a number of reasons.
First, however, I would like to explain my initial reason for choosing the term bio-female when I have been fully aware of the terms cisgender and cissexual for quite some time. What I realize now I meant was assigned-female-at-birth, as opposed to cis-female, because I have never quite felt cis-female, my gender has always been a little (or a lot) queer. Not only am I not cis-female because of my femme identity, but then when other identities are taken into account they dispute this as well. While I often do appear to the casual observer to be cisgendered, there are also plenty of times when I do not.
Sinclair’s post got me wondering: why do I have that in there? Why does it matter what I was assigned at birth if I don’t believe in binary genders or sexes? What was the reason for me to include this in my own description? The only answer I came to was that I didn’t want my sex misinterpreted. When I realized this I mentally laughed at myself. I realized it was a safety blanket, my version of a blue-blanket, and something I didn’t need anymore (perhaps never needed).
Because of that realization as well as the realization of the incorrectness of the term “bio,” for as Sinclair put it “there’s nothing non-biological about trans folks,” I decided to take it out of my description. I simply don’t need it anymore. Obviously at one point I thought it was necessary, I felt threatened that I would be assumed for anything other than female. I say this with a little bit of shame, it was my own internal cissexism rearing it’s ugly head. Despite being a decidedly fierce trans supporter and advocate for years I am still subject to my internalized cissexism, but I’m working on it.
There were two distinct times I can think of where I was “mistaken” for a male queen. These were both many years ago during high school. Nowadays I would be rejoicing for such a reading of my sex and gender, but in those days I had not gone through much if any gender revelations and while I wasn’t disgusted or outraged I was confused and taken aback (mostly because my boobs were huge and in both instances I was wearing a low-cut top, in one instance a corset). I think my original adoption of “bio-female” was in part due to those instances.
I have more thoughts about the differences between femme and cis-female, but will have to save them for another time.Possibly related posts: