Taking Up Too Much Space?

My fiancée and I had a very interesting discussion the other night. Mira and I were talking about the space we occupy, and despite both the knowledge and belief that we are entitled to that space, sometimes, there is some guilt in occupying our own space. As if fully occupying our space, filled with its happiness and love and good fortune, we are taking away from those who are struggling.

I wrote a while back about attending the Trans 100 and listening to Tiq Milan talk about taking up space.

We are all entitled to space in this world, and we are fully allowed to occupy that space.

We have a right to exist, and we have a right to been seen, to have our voices heard, and to move through this world as everyone else does.

When others try to occupy our space, or even part of our space, it’s oppression and discrimination. They are trying to tell us that we are not important enough for our space, or that they are so important they need our space as well. When someone tries to silence our voice or speak for us, they’re occupying our space.

But what happens when we don’t feel entitled to our space in this world? What happens when our narrative feels akin to boasting?

My life is good now. It didn’t used to be. Those of you who know me know the struggles I’ve overcome. But that was then. The space I occupy now is different, stronger, and more confident. The life I live is happy, loving, and stable. But at times, almost (rather, quite) like a survivor’s guilt, I wonder if my story is too good to tell. Mira and I both struggle with this. Rather than talk about the good things happening to us, rather than rightfully occupy our space, we remain silent.

After all, I’m no braggart, and as an activist and an ally, I firmly believe it is my responsibility to lift those who are struggling, so their voices may be heard. If I speak out of turn, or if I talk over the voices of those I ally myself with, what kind of support is that?

So instead, we stifle our story, tamping it down so as not to distract from those who struggle. We lend sympathetic ears, and allow these stories to be told. After all, our happiness may push them further into their sorrow, right? If I talk about all the good things happening to me right now, that’s boasting, isn’t it? That’s telling those who are struggling that my story is more important, right? It’s taking away their space, right?

Oh my God…am I being oppressive?

Well, that escalated quickly…

I feel that people struggle with the concept of occupying space in this world. There are those who try to occupy too much, stepping on the toes of others and trying to push them out of their space. And then there are those who either don’t realize they’re allowed to take up space, or they don’t feel the space they have is deserved. There are also those who who remain in their space, but somehow feel their space is more important than others and insist they are the defining example of those like them.

My life has much privilege now – the privilege, essentially, of being a white, heterosexual male. I have white privilege, I have socioeconomic privilege, I have male privilege, I have heterosexual privilege…

Does my space shrink with the more privilege I have? I think the perception, the wrong perception, is that the space you’re entitled to increases with privilege. I don’t feel that is right. While there are no obvious, visible lines limiting the space we have, I think 1) it is our job to maintain limits in the space we occupy and 2) just as there is finite room on this earth, the amount of space available is finite, even if it isn’t a tangible thing.

Maintaining the limits of the space I occupy doesn’t mean I silence my voice. What it does mean is that it is my responsibility to be aware of those around me and the space they occupy. It means that sometimes my voice should remain quiet – this doesn’t mean that my voice is any less important. It simply means that it’s not my place to talk, and any opinions or thoughts I choose to share, should be considered with regard to those around me, and the stories they are telling. It means that in conversations concerning race and gender equity, I should do far more listening than talking.

Maintaining the limits of the space I occupy means that I have a duty to call others out, and then in, when they are overstepping the limits of their space and encroaching on the space of others. It means understanding the privilege I have, and not using that privilege to oppress, but to raise up those individuals who are struggling.

It also means that I don’t have to be guilty about fully occupying my space. My happiness doesn’t take away from others. It doesn’t occupy their space or prevent their voice from being heard.

When I talk of a finite space, it’s not finite in the sense that those coming into the world don’t get a space or those leaving this world take their space with them. I mean it is finite in the sense that our space is just that, our space. It is finite in the sense that there is space specifically for every individual on this earth, and that our space is all the same. No one is entitled to a bigger space than someone else, regardless of success or struggle, and your space doesn’t change in size depending on how much or how little privilege you have.

My story is part of the space I occupy. My beliefs, experiences, ideas – these are all rightfully mine and are contained within my space. But should they stay there? Should I silence my voice out of guilt because someone else is struggling? Should I silence my voice because my voice is happy?

My story, while both happy and sad, triumphant and tragic, deserves to be heard as much as any other story. Comparing the importance of individual experiences is a very dangerous path to go down. It pits the marginalized against one another, as if bleeding at the hands of someone else is somehow worse (or better?) than bleeding because of my own hand.

No. My voice should never be silenced. The space I occupy has been created for me, and quite frankly, it is my duty to occupy that space. If I don’t occupy it, then I’m failing those who are struggling, in a sense. If I don’t occupy my space, all of it, then someone else will, and I don’t have the ability to choose who that individual will be.

It is my duty to occupy that space in that my story of struggle and success could help someone else realize that as much of a cliché “It gets better” is, there is truth in the phrase. My narrative is relatable. It is as relatable as the other narratives that exist.

My voice may give others the strength to speak. So then, is it fair for me to silence myself and crawl into a remote corner of the space I’m supposed to occupy because someone else will be struggling more? No, it’s no more fair than if I were to try to silence the voice of others so I may be better heard.

It’s just as important for someone to be able to relate in the struggles of someone else as it is to reinforce that hope for the future.

To those who wish to occupy my space – it is mine, I am entitled to it, and I refuse to let you silence me.

To those who feel they do not deserve the space they occupy – stand firm, stand strong; your space was made for you, occupy it with the knowledge that it is important because you are in it.

To those who wish to blanket your story over mine – understand that all voices must be heard, and my story is just as important, even if it is for different reasons.

Go out in the world. Take up the space you are entitled to. Help others to occupy their own space. And don’t feel shame or guilt in doing so.

 

 

 

Advertisements

How does one measure courage?

How does one measure courage?
Is an Iraqi war veteran more courageous than a child fighting cancer?
Is an amputee more courageous than someone who hasn’t lost a limb?
Is an athlete more courageous than a single mother?

If so, then who is the most courageous one of all?

We cannot measure courage. Comparing scars does nothing. Your battle is different than mine, and mine is different than theirs. Our scars don’t exist to be compared. They exist to show strength. My scars show battles I’ve won, battles unique to me. And when something is unique, there is nothing to compare it to.

Our journeys through life are unique. Each step we take has not ever been taken, by anyone, before. Similar paths have been traversed, and recognizable steps have been taken, but everything you do, is unique because you do it.

It takes courage to come out, whether it be out of the closet or out of your gender, and knowing the world could hate you for it. It takes courage to go off to war, knowing you might not come back home. It takes courage to lay in a hospital bed while toxic chemicals are pumped into you, fighting off an enemy you cannot see.

Are any of these things more courageous than the other? No. They’re all different, unique struggles and battles that take individual strength to endure. No single action can be called the most courageous action, and to try to compare such actions has the potential to invalidate the struggle that each individual has gone through.

You cannot measure courage by comparing your actions to those actions of others. You can only compare yourself to past selves, and take pride in what you’ve done, how far you’ve come, and what battles you’ve won.

Not My Normal Post

So I talk about changing the meaning of ‘manning up’ from being this misogynistic machismo thing to a concept of men taking responsibility for their actions and their lives. I’m working on manning up myself, because I want to be the best man I can possibly be. And I’ve got some really awesome role models to help me fill those shoes. 

Turns out, I’ve got a new guy to add to that list. 

We all struggle with life at times. And, it’s gotta be some kind of Murphy’s Law that kicks you when you’re already down. 

But I know a guy, in spite of all the stuff he’s got on his plate, is manning up in one of the best ways possible. He’s manning up to be a father. He’s fighting for his son. 

My co-worker, my friend, is fighting for full custody of his son.

I wish you could see him talk about his son. His face completely lights up and you can literally see him filling up with pride. But it’s not the sort of unattainable adoration that every son acheives to invoke in his father. This is real. This is a father’s love for his son. I dare you to talk to him about his kid and not find yourself feeling proud right alongside with him.  

But here’s the thing. In order to get full custody, it costs money. Filing fees, attorney fees – my friend and his fiancee have a lawyer ready to go, but they don’t have the money. Now, normally I don’t do this, because I don’t always feel comfortable asking for money. This is different. This guy, this man – he wants to do the right thing, he wants to be the father to his son and give him a life of love and happiness and teach him what being a man is all about. 

My friend has some medical needs, both him and his fiancee, that need taking care of. He’s paying for those out of pocket, so when it comes to money for a lawyer, he’s lacking the necessary funds for the ongoing process of a custody fight.

This is where I’m turning to you, friends. He’s started a GoFundMe to try and raise the money for lawyer’s fees. Any and all donations help.  

He’s working on fixing mistakes from his past, so let’s not punish his son for past ghosts (God knows we all have some). My friend also said any money left over from the process would go to the travelling hockey team his son plays for – to help other families that are struggling give their kids a little something extra.

I really want to see this dad get custody of his son. So how about helping out? I did. You should too. I wouldn’t advocate for this guy if I didn’t believe in what he is doing.

Snowpiercer? Snowthanks.

imageSo Mira and I decided we were going to watch Snowpiercer the other night, as it looked somewhat interesting and had gotten decent reviews.

*****Warning: Spoiler Alert*****

Well, that was 2 hours and 6 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. Okay, so it wasn’t all that bad. By the end of the movie I was cheering each time someone died. Didn’t matter what team they played for…

Honestly, the entire concept of the movie seemed to be something out of the imagination of a five year old. A train, powered by a ‘Divine Engine’ (I’ll talk more about that later) that drives around the world, with a bunch of people on it – like ‘Speed’ meets ‘The Neverending Story’. I think a classmate of mine wrote a similar story in 1st grade.

The movie raised a lot of questions, the most prominent one being, “What the hell am I watching?” That question may never be answered. However, I do want to discuss the following, which occur in the movie in no particular order:

We see Mason, who is some figurehead representing Mr. Wilford, speaking to the occupants of the back cars of the train. I noticed her teeth were really horrible. Then, at another point, we see her remove the top teeth (the most nasty ones) as a top set of dentures. Later, as Mason is leading the group through the nicer cars, we see they have a dental office. So why the hell does Mason have such shitty teeth?? Why, if she runs so much of the train, doesn’t she get the damned things fixed? It’s not like she’s going anywhere…

And let’s talk about Curtis for a moment, yeah? The people in the back of the train clearly don’t have access to showers and proper methods of personal hygiene, so why does he cover his nose up when he goes and meets the guy hiding under the…whatever that stuff is…to get the Kronole? By the looks of everyone on the train, I somehow doubt the place smelled like Bath and Body Works.

I’m also clearly convinced that Claude (the woman who gets nailed in the head with a shoe) and the guy who looks like Rush Limbaugh and Steven Segal’s lovechild are robots. I mean, why not? You’ve got a train that runs on what we assume is either the quashed hopes of the occupants of the rear cars or the negative energy generated by the bad acting, so why not throw a few robots in the mix. Those bastards just wouldn’t die. Mira seems to think they’re vampires, however. Again, that’s plausible.

Why is there a clarvoyant? Was it really necessary for Yona to be clarvoyant? As if they weren’t robbing enough parts from other movies. I felt like I was watching the cutting room floor rejects of The Hunger Games (one of the parents should have stepped up as a Tribute, clearly), Silent Hill (I was waiting for the rebels to realize the masked men in plastic trashbags with axes only responded to light), Waterworld (just put an eyepatch over Mr. Wilford), and Ice Age (although I honestly wanted to see that polar bear pull out a Coke and offer it to the two kids). I think if Yona really were a clarvoyant, however, she would have sensed how horrible this movie really was and jumped off the train.

Although I was rather fond of the zombie ravers in the one train car, but I could’t quite understand why the scene with them attacking was necessary. Hearing their angry shouts as the group ran through (“I’ll kill you man. Hey, give that back.”) added much needed comic relief, though.

Could someone please explain to me, also, why there was a train car full of half naked people wearing Ugs and Eskimo coats? Or was that purely to make the fact that the two kids at the end had clothing warm enough to brave the Polar Vortex make sense?

And who decided that a giant block of Kronole (which is essentially C4 explosive) wasn’t overkill when blowing the gate open? I don’t think it would have mattered when they opened the gate, with that much explosive they were bound to annihilate all of the train’s ‘humanity’.

If anyone saw a glimmer of hope at the end of the movie (other than the glimmer of hope that either everyone died or that there wouldn’t be a sequel) please let me know now so I can unfriend you on Facebook. Seriously, a seventeen year old crackhead, excuse me, Kronolehead and a five year old are supposed to be able to survive the arctic with a probably very hungry polar bear roaming around? I bet that bear took one look at those kids and thought, Daddy’s gonna eat good tonight!

I have to say, it was very fortunate there was a zombie raver the size of that five year old, so he had something warm to wear.

And as Mira pointed out, here was this train, this self-sustaining ecosystem, hurtling around the world, running on this supposedly divine engine, not needing any source of fuel, but when parts broke down they were only replacable by child labor?  Again, no answer for this.

It really felt like everyone gave up halfway through the movie and did a few lines of coke (or Kronole?) and tried rewriting the script. Like the fact that Mr. Wilford was such a prophet he saw the horrible demise with the use of CW7 (which Mira also pointed out was a television station that played reruns of really crappy sitcoms) that he built this train, makes me wonder if he was the one who created the CW7 in the first place. If so, then he created the largest, most complicated system of oppression I’ve ever seen.

Though, the pregnant lady with the Uzi was a nice touch.

If you haven’t seen this movie yet, don’t. Unless you have to choose between a root canal and this movie. Even then, you’re more likely to get something out of the root canal than by watching Snowpiercer. Truth be told, no one ever even explains why the name of the movie is Snowpiercer, which really sounds like it could be the title of a bad porn.

If you have already seen this movie, I’m sorry. If you liked this movie, I’m going to have to ask that you not talk to me for a little while until I can figure out how to look at you without asking, “What the actual fuck?”

I might have to write more movie reviews. It makes up for the crummy experiences.

This is Me.

I’ve written before about the idea of transitioning, and how, in hindsight, I’ve always felt far more masculine. I’ve also written about how my family catered to this, buying me “boy’s” toys and letting me play baseball and football with the guys in the neighborhood.

I'm the one with the long hair. 7 years old and I'm in a sweater vest. Hindsight - 20/20
I’m the one with the long hair. 7 years old and I’m in a sweater vest. Hindsight – 20/20

But I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about it. As it turns out, those feelings of wanting to explore that side of me run deeper than I realized. I’ve been trying out different pronouns and Mira commented on it the other night. Although she has been totally supportive of my identity exploration, she was a bit surprised that I went from her/she pronouns right to he/him and bypassed they/them/their altogether, while being less sure about moving in the direction of identifying as a trans man.

And that, along with thoughts bouncing around in my own head, has led me to realize a few things.

Lately, I’ve been trying on he/him/his pronouns. Basically, I’ve been telling people to use what feels comfortable to them, because I’m not entirely sure where I am on all of this. Some people refer to me as he and some people still use she.

She feels comfortable to me, and he…well, I’m still getting used to it. It sounds foreign to my ears. It has this strange sense of familiarity…like I’m experiencing deja vu.

But there’s a part of me that is almost…forcing me to feel uncomfortable with it. And then it dawned on me. For 34 years, I’ve been a girl, and then a woman. At least that’s how society has viewed it. Or at least the majority of people in my world. Until recently.

When I started talking about how I’ve always wanted facial hair and a muscular body, the responses I get are always extremely affirming. Like there isn’t a question that that’s who I’m supposed to be.

Yet I still have this feeling that it’s not right. Again…34 years a woman, by societal standards. I’ve spent my life being conditioned to believe that I am a woman, nothing more, nothing less. So when I hear “he” in reference to me, of course it will sound foreign to me. Because he is who I am becoming. He was the kid who played football with the other guys. He was the kid who was socially awkward because he would much rather have had the advantages that the other guys did in school. He was the one who wanted to be able to talk about his crushes on girls.

The feeling is a nagging one, not of guilt or shame, but more of whether or not I’m being silly. Remember, I grew up in a Conservative household. Gender was always very clear. Man. Woman. Woman was the submissive to Man, despite the fact that when my parents got married, they changed the vows from “man and wife” to “husband and wife”. My idea of gender was always a bit confused.

My mom would buy me G.I. Joe, Micro Machines, baseballs, footballs, basketballs…she told me she’d never make me wear a skirt if I didn’t want to, yet I had to wear a dress under my graduation gown in my senior year.

I’ve never wanted feminine things. And I was taught that that’s okay. But growing up around a family that had such strong anti-gay views, where any talk of the trans* community resulted in someone (usually mom) making a comment about ‘shemales’, made it difficult to explore any aspect of that for me.

I don’t stand in the mirror and hate my body. And this voice, this nagging voice, when I look at myself and see that bit of beard, or that adam’s apple, or those muscles in my shoulder or a flat chest…I hear

drag
Me. In drag. The facial hair is a little rough, but not bad for a first attempt.

“You’re not really a trans man, you’re just being fanciful.”

“Just keep being a butch lesbian. It’s so close to what you want anyway, and you can always be a drag king to make up for the rest…”

“Are you sure about all of this? You don’t have real dysphoria.”

And I wonder. That doubt creeps up, and I wonder if…

I wonder if…

In high school, my debate teacher taught us that the Negative side in debate, if they were good, could “what if” the debate all the way to nuclear war.

So I wonder if

And with that comes what if I get fired because I come out as trans at work and it freaks people out and what if I lose friends and what if it’s all wrong and I’m not really trans and what if I can’t handle this and what if what if what if…

1813aqov5wc2jjpg

But, I have always prided myself on the fact that I’m me. I’m Teri, and I’ve always been Teri, and I will always be Teri. It’s just now that Teri wants the facial hair he’s always desired, and to have the muscles he’s always been able to envision.

I think more that it’s not “he” that sounds unfamiliar, but the idea that a new chapter in my life is unfolding before me…it’s exciting and scary, and it’s amazing and terrifying. But that won’t stop me. I have beautiful friends and family around me to support me.

And I think when I start hearing “him” I’ll know that he is me, and to some degree, always has been.

1798176_1500702236848616_6619805958796031955_n

Embracing the Unexpected

Today is a special day. Not for me so much as it is for my girlfriend. It’s her birthday today. I feel really bad that I don’t have any money to buy her a gift. I will though. I’m working on improving myself. And it’s because of her.

It’s been this wonderful whirlwind romance, a beautiful experience in life. An experience in which you grow and learn – not just about your partner, but you learn things about yourself too. They (whomever ‘they’ are) say that if you change yourself, you should do it for you, not for someone else. But she…she makes me want to change, and not just for myself, but for everyone around me. She makes me want to be a better person, not because I’m not a good person now, but because I know I can be better.

I spent so much time in failed relationships, hanging on out of a desperation to feel loved, or at the very least, wanted. And that’s why I found myself back in my hometown, after a failed relationship forced me to make that 150 mile journey back home on New Year’s Eve. In a blizzard, no less. It was like Mother Nature was chastising me for blindly following my heart.

As I celebrated the new year by helping my friend (whose couch would become my bed) build a cabinet for her dry goods, I made a vow to hold off before getting romantically involved with anyone, and to hold off even longer before giving my heart away (which was a difficult vow to make as anyone who knows me knows I wear my heart on my sleeve).

Fast forward to the evening of January 18th. I was down at my favorite haunt in my hometown with a couple of friends. We were standing out on the back porch, having a cigarette, when I watched this tall woman walk from the parking ramp towards the building. My friend commented on how tall that woman was. I simply nodded. I found myself fixated on her, and felt my heart beat faster as she approached the stairs to the bar.

We all courteously said hello, and I made sure to hold the door open. This woman flashed a gorgeous smile at me and that was pretty much it. I was done for.

Well, my friends and I continued to play pool once we came back inside. There was a group of people sitting near us, and my heart flip-flopped when I saw that tall woman sitting with the group. We kept making eye contact, and she invited me to sit with them.

I did, and I met some incredible people that night. People that I’m proud to call friends. They were part of a group that had met earlier, a group for gender non-conformists. I was sad when the night ended, but I managed to friend several of them on Facebook.

The following day, the woman I held the door open for messaged me on Facebook. We started chatting and immediately I found myself attracted.

But…this little voice in the back of my head started…she’s a trans*woman. Like I’d lose my right to be a lesbian for dating her.

I was ashamed of this voice. Because just the night before I had touted myself as an advocate, an ally, for everyone in the LGBTQIA community, not just a select few. I wasn’t discriminatory. I shut the voice up by ignoring it.

We continued chatting, and this attraction continued to grow. But that voice stuck around. Keep in mind, the voice wasn’t filled with disgust. In fact, there was no disgust in the voice whatsoever. It was more…confusion…than anything else.

You see, while I was a self-proclaimed lover of all people, it hadn’t always been that way. I grew up in a house where Rush Limbaugh graced the kitchen every afternoon and a signed letter from Ronald Reagan hung in the living room. My mom was openly bigoted, and had made it clear that homosexuality was wrong and disgusting, but being…transgender…well that was deserving of a special place in Hell. Regardless of how hard you try to rebel against an upbringing like that, sometimes parts of it stick with you, like subliminal messaging.

But my attraction was undeniable. And it continued. The voice didn’t last too long though. Because on February 8th, we met again, with the same group. I was slowly (ha…) becoming addicted to her. I wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day, while secretly wanting to ask her to be my Valentine. Then on the 21st, she asked me out on a date.

Well, okay, I didn’t realize it was a date until about halfway through. I should have known though, because I was so nervous. Sweaty palms, shaky voice…the whole nine yards. And that was just while I was waiting for her to come pick me up. We went to the same bar where I held the door open for her. Over beers and some bar food, we talked. She touched my arm. And I came undone. When she brought me home, my stomach was full of butterflies, and I was convinced they started a mosh pit in there.

She dropped me off at my friend’s house and I practically ran inside. I was giddy and confused and excited…and I realized I had missed an opportunity to kiss her. I didn’t admit that to her until a few days later. But by that time we had both admitted our attraction, and she assured me I would get another opportunity to do so.

And I did. And it was glorious. You know how sitcoms used to joke about a kiss by showing fireworks going off? I used to wonder what that was like. But when I kissed her, I understood. It still happens when we kiss.

She asked if I would go to a doctor’s appointment with her. It was a particularly important appointment – the appointment that decided whether or not she would start her HRT. I was deeply touched and very honored. This was a big deal. And on March 14th, we made our relationship Facebook official.

She started hormones shortly after that, and while the changes have been subtle so far, I’ve noticed them. I’ve also noticed a growing confidence as she comes out to more and more people, and these people continue to throw their support behind her. And now, she’s celebrating her first birthday as Mira, the woman I’ve seen since I’ve met her.

One of the people I met that night said that of course I saw them as they were, because that’s all I had known them as. But that’s not true. You can put on clothes and makeup and hats and look like a man or a woman, but when you look into someone’s eyes, that’s when you see who they really are…who they’re supposed to be.

And when I look at Mira, I see this beautiful woman who is taking me on this amazing journey. I constantly fall in love watching her…the way she moves and her gestures. Her soft femininity, the strength in her eyes, the way I melt when she catches me watching and she smiles at me. I’m in love. Smitten. Head over heels for her. And it’s wonderful.

That voice? Oh that voice packed its bags long ago. I’m not confused. I don’t think I ever was. I think it was a fear of falling in love again, because I’d been hurt so many times before. Because when I look at Mira, I see the same beautiful woman I held the door open for back in January. And I find myself falling in love all over again.

She’s a blogger too. And she has such a beautiful voice. I know some of you have found her. But here’s a link to her blog in case you haven’t: http://miracharlotte.com/  She has some really incredible stories to share.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering how I remembered all the dates? I do have a good memory, but actually…I saved all the messages we’ve sent each other on Facebook. Every single one. Makes me smile to go back and read them.

Anyway…I love you, sweetheart. Happy Birthday!

 

 

 

Onions, lesbians, and layers.

Lesbians are like onions. Some really stink and others make you cry.

Okay, that’s not where I was going with that pearl of wisdom, but it at least caught your attention. It’s true though. Lesbians have layers.

There are some that seem to think my lesbian life consists of this:

Because, of course, this is what all lesbians look like
Because, of course, this is what all lesbians look like

And there’s others that think it looks something like:

Let's get one thing...ah...erm..*straight*...I'm not the super sporty type.
Let’s get one thing…ah…erm..*straight*…I’m not the super sporty type.

And still others think this:

Even if I did this, I'd be more likely to wear a pantsuit. I just look goofy in a dress.
Even if I did this, I’d be more likely to wear a pantsuit. I just look goofy in a dress.

But what is truly interesting is those who think that we partake in these varying events also want us to keep all of this in our bedrooms, where it belongs. Because obviously softball should be played in the bed. (Keep the euphemism to yourself…)

Every lesbian has heard of the butch-femme continuum. I’ve mentioned it before on this blog. It’s this scale that lists the varying gender identities among lesbians. It’s similar to the Kinsey scale in the varying extremes of how lesbians present themselves. It’s essentially a persona.

And because it’s a persona, it’s a bit harder to ‘keep it in the bedroom.’ I identify as a butch lesbian (that’s about as far as I get in the specifics of the continuum) and wear guy’s clothes, keep my hair short, and just generally present myself in a more masculine way. It’s what I find most comfortable, and it works for me. The way I sit, the way I walk, even some gestures and mannerisms lean more to the masculine side. These aren’t things I can just keep in the bedroom.

I won’t pretend to be something, or someone, I’m not. I won’t put on a dress or makeup because you can’t figure out if I’m a guy with boobs or an actual woman. I refuse to change the way I look so you feel more comfortable around me. I’m old enough to know what bathroom to use. I know I’ll probably be called ‘sir’ at some point. I know someone will unknowingly refer to me as ‘him’. I’m fine with that. It comes with the territory.

download (4)Being butch has its advantages and definitely has its disadvantages. I understand discrimination on a degree that most cisgender femme lesbians don’t. I’m more likely to be called out because of my appearance. Using a public restroom can sometimes play out like an episode of The Walking Dead.

 

Wait...butch lesbians use the women's restrooms??
Wait…butch lesbians use the women’s restrooms??

Most of the time though, I get looks of confusion if I don’t make it to a stall before anyone sees me, or when I’m up at the sink washing my hands. I’ve even gone so far as to mess with ignorant folk in a bar by using both restrooms.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised anymore, but I do find myself amazed at how many people become members of the Potty Patrol when a butch lesbian walks into the bathroom. (That sounds like the start of a bad joke…) I’m sorry, but am I one of the few people that believe that most people use the bathroom for its intended purpose? It’s where you poop for cryin’ out loud. It’s not a single’s bar.

Okay, enough toilet talk.

I’m proud to be butch. I hold doors open (In fact, that’s how I met my girlfriend). I let others enter in front of me. I dress in vests and ties and wear fedoras. I like doing heavy work. I like being sexually dominant. I own a chain wallet, a pocket watch, and I shop in the men’s section at clothing stores. I have several straight guy friends who consider me ‘one of the guys’, and I love it.

I try hard not to subscribe to the stereotypes. I do have flannel patterns. But I don’t pair those flannel shirts with Birkenstocks. I don’t always wear a fauxhawk. I do own aviators, but I don’t pop my collar. I like beer. I really like craft beer. I don’t own a ridiculous amount of polos. I do however, own a pair of plaid shorts.

I wear my persona proudly. And when I walk into the women’s restroom, I do so with my head held high (even if it’s just so I can quickly assess the situation and make it to an open stall with as little visibility as possible).

I am a butch lesbian. I am an onion. And I will not hide my layers in the bedroom.

download (5)