A term I never really related to…until recently.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more comfortable with certain aspects of myself. Mainly my sexuality and gender expression. As I was growing into myself and my sexuality, I was concerned with portraying a certain image. Being that I was a more masculine woman, I wanted to look ‘like a stud’…because at the time I thought you had to fit into a certain box in order to be accepted into the community…and sexually desired. But you can only pretend so much. No matter how hard I tried, I was never ‘hard’ enough, nor was I feminine enough. In fact, I was often mistaken as a guy. I remember vividly going to the club with a friend one night, and the girls askin my friend if I was a guy. This frustrated me on many levels, mainly because I saw myself as the more feminine one between my friend and myself.
Thus began my journey of self-discovery, ie. my journey in no longer trying.
How to be a Stud.
I’ve always had a sense of style. I would purposely attempt to dress a certain way. Carry myself a certain way. And wear hats. Because at the time, I thought my image was not complete without a fitted cap. Club clothes vs. Everyday clothes. I would purposely try to control my smile and laughter and emotions as to not appear too soft and goofy. Constantly attempting to deny these little parts of myself in attempts to appeal to what I thought were the expectations of others.
But one thing remained a constant. I was always perceived as a guy. It was so common that when I went out alone, a guy would come to me, stare longingly, touch my arm. And I’d stare back, bitch face mixed with freak out, until I flat out told them ‘I’m a chick’. Some nites I found this humourous. More nites I found it frustrating…more so than I was willing to admit. Because…embarrassment.
I’m the only daughter of an only daughter in a southern black family. So I’ve been taught that gender roles are very rigid, and as a woman, there were certain ways I was expected to present myself and to act. I’ve always questions these standards…while I was a good kid growing up, I never totally bought into the expectations placed upon me solely based on my gender. Why couldn’t I wear baggy clothes? Why couldn’t I ride bikes all around the neighborhood with my brothers? Having a vagina didn’t seems like a good enough reason lol. At the same time I felt shame and failure for not being able to live up to the standards of femininity that were placed upon me and that surrounded me.
I spent years trying to deny myself. Hating myself. And in turn hurting others.
Until one day, I stopped trying to conform. I realized my power as a woman…a woman in tune to her masculinity (which in turn in a way amplifies my femininity, right?). I decided to love and accept myself. As a woman who happens to express her femininity through masculinity.
My one hold onto my perceived femininity was my hair. I had long, flowing locs for nearly 16 years. Because as a southern black woman, hair is a crown of femininity. It was one the thing I had. And a few months ago, it was the one thing I let go. I now rock a natural fade.
One thing I didn’t mention is that I look a lot like my father. Cutting my hair accentuated this…along with the high cheekbones and bright eyes that were gifted from my mom. No makeup…just my natural features, and flaws…on full display at all times. Neck ties, no earrings, men’s clothing (despite how form fitting to my slender body). Semi deep voice. Based on my looks and traits, society genders me a male. I now hear “sir” more than I ever have at any point in my life.
Which is interesting to me. I in no way perceive myself to be a ‘man.’ I am not trans. I am very aware of myself as a woman. Am I masculine? Yes. Am I a lesbian? Yes. Do I stare at boobs? Yes. But I am not a man. Yet, my perceived gender has forced me to face the fact that by the standards of others, I fit I to this box of gender ambiguity. Effortlessly an ‘other’. Sympathizing with those other women and trans folk who live on the outskirts of gender ‘normalcy’.
Yet, I wouldn’t change a thing about my gender expression. I am who I am, and proudly present myself in this way because it reflects who I am. One who straddles the line of gender normalcy. Expressing myself on my own terms, not conforming to society’s expectations on what I ‘should’ look like because of my biological makeup.
I am me.
So I’ll deal.