I came out as a lesbian at the awkward age of 16. As the only openly queer student at my conservative high school, I felt a deep sense of responsibility to defeat the lesbian stereotype and become the poster-dyke for queer kids everywhere. I wanted to show the world that we could be “just like everyone else,” getting married and popping out queerspawn for our perfect nuclear families in the burbs. To reinforce my homonormative mentality, I femmed up my wardrobe and purchased homowarrior paint by Maybelline. Armed with a tube of red lipstick, I waded through a battlefield of high school homophobia in heels and a mini skirt.
Even after my outlook on queer politics underwent a massive, radical overhaul, my gender presentation remained ultra-femme. I clung to my girlygirl aesthetic like a security blanket, hoping to ward off the “dyke, you just need to get fucked and you’ll know what you’re missing” comments that dropped like bombs from chapped bro-boy lips. I responded to increasing hostility at full volume, and even when my raucous queer voice shattered my protective pink armor, I continued to femme it up. This time, however, I had a very different purpose—I wanted to look hot. I wanted to see closetdyke drool sizzle on the sidewalks of my heteronormative hometown. I wanted to be wanted by the queer boys and girls still waiting to come out of the woodwork. I wanted to finally get a date.
Naturally, I assumed that I should mold myself into the kind of woman who could crush my heart in her fist—a fierce femme with a tongue like a whip and a mind like a trap—but I slowly began to realize that I didn’t want to emulate femininity. I wanted femininity to dominate me.
By my senior year of high school, I began embracing aspects of a visibly-queer stereotype that used to terrify me. But when I finally realized that I preferred boxer briefs to lace, my initial sigh of relief propelled the tidal waves of gender identity crisis. I bound my chest and huddled under the trans umbrella as I navigated through the mess of my evolving gender presentation. As I weathered the storm, I learned how to say no.
No, I do not want to wear a dress today. No, I will not wear the bra that makes my tits stick out. No, I do not want to be touched like that.
But more importantly, I learned how to say yes.
Yes, you can use masculine pronouns when you refer to me. Yes, I am attracted to you, not your gender. Yes, you can kiss me like that. Yes, please kiss me like that. Yes, you can call me Malic.
Though I finally feel comfortable as a genderqueer trannyfag boydyke bombshell, I am certainly not suggesting that femme-identified folks need to embrace masculinity and “find out what they’re missing.” Femme individuals are particularly underrepresented in the queer population, and they are frequently ostracized from their own community. I have known far too many femme queer women who have been told that they “look too straight” and femme queer men who have been told they they’re “too faggy.” This calls for a “Dude, seriously” moment:
Dude. Seriously. Discrimination within a community that already faces so much oppression is beyond harmful. Those of us on the masculine end of the queer spectrum need to get our shit together, examine our privilege, and acknowledge the femmes in our community. Their presence should be celebrated, perhaps even worshipped. Femmes are fucking fabulous.
[end of “Dude, seriously” moment]
Though my gender presentation has evolved almost beyond recognition, I acknowledge my flirtation with full-blown femininity as an essential part of a neverending process that has led me to a fleeting, yet comforting conclusion:
No, I am not femme. No, I am not a lesbian. Yes, I am a genderqueer trannyfag boydyke and I am finally beginning to feel like myself.