Femme Struggles

Being a femme lesbian has it’s perks… and it’s down falls.

  1. People often tell you that you “don’t look gay”
not a thing
Me when people say “but you don’t look gay”

AKA people don’t realize you’re gay, bi, pan, queer, etc! This makes it especially hard when you’re trying to connect with other LGBTQIA+ people. When you are femme, most people will assume you’re straight, and sometimes try to invalidate your identity because of the way you look. Plus, what does “looking gay” even mean?

2. Other queer women don’t realize you’re queer too

micheal scott

If you’re more introverted like me then this is a problem. I’m probably not going to make the first move, but if the other girl doesn’t realize I’m gay then she won’t either. Since society generally accepts straight women being super friendly to one another, and sees things like frequent compliments as normal (as oppose to friendships between two men), it can be hard for queer women to realize when another girl is flirting with them versus just being nice.

3. Every time you “come out” people are shocked

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This may not be the case for every femme lesbian, but it certainly is for me. I always get the, “No way! Reeeaally???” response from everyone I tell. When you don’t fit the stereotype, it doesn’t even cross peoples minds that you would be anything other than straight.

4. You have to come out all the time

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Because people never assume you’re queer, you have to tell them for them to know. Yes, generally assuming other peoples sexualities isn’t good, but it would be nice if just one time someone actually figured out I was gay without me having to explicitly say the words “I’m Gay.”

 

These are all things I’ve noticed from my experience, but other queer women may have different experiences.¬† If you are a femme LGBTQIA+ woman, do any of these things happen to you? What’s the most annoying thing you deal with because you’re femme?

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Trans Day of Visibility 2018

Today, March 31st, is Trans Day of Visibility!

This years theme, hosted by Trans Student Educational Resources or TSER, is “surviving, thriving.” Aiming to acknowledge all of the wonderful accomplishments made by trans people in the past twelve months.

We are not only surviving the Trump regime but we are making strides to transform how people think about gender around the world. In the increasingly transphobic global political climate, we must use our newfound visibility to mobilize trans people against oppression. Speaking out, taking direct action, and educating others is critical to our safety and wellbeing. This recognizes that while visibility is important, we must take action against transphobia. (TSER)

Since I am not trans, I want to highlight some amazing trans people whose content I follow!

Youtubers:

Ash Hardell: Ash is a non-binary, pansexual youtuber who creates educational LGBTQIA+ content. They also wrote a book called the ABC’s of LGBT, and are a fierce ally for the whole LGBTQIA+ community.

Jackson Bird: Jackson is a bisexual, trans man, who creates youtube videos covering a wide variety of topics, including books and being LGBTQIA+. He also has a very successful series called “Will it Waffle?” where he puts different foods on a waffle iron to see what happens, and his reactions are always priceless.

Stef Sanjati: Stef is a trans woman who makes videos about style and beauty, as well as documenting her journey transitioning. She has also recently become vocal about her eating disorder, and is an advocate for those with mental illnesses.

Podcasts:

You’re so Brave: You’re so Brave is hosted by Chase Ross and Aaron Ansuini, both of which are tans men. Their podcast talks about tans issues and the trans experience in general. Chase also identifies as pansexual and Aaron identifies as asexual.

How to Not: How to Not is a podcast where Kaitlyn Alexander and Rob Moden read Wikihow articles and discuss the nonsense that comes along with them. Kaitlyn identifies as non-binary and queer. This is one of my favorite podcasts, because it always makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood. Kaitlyn also makes youtube videos, including a web-series that they wrote and starred in, and they starred in the web-series Carmilla.

WordPress Bloggers:

Color it Queer: I had the honor of having Jess from Color it queer guest post on my blog a couple of weeks ago. She is both queer and disabled like myself, and blogs about a plethora of things including being LGBTQIA+, disability, and activism.

Almost, Almost: I really love the blog Almost, Almost! They are non-binary and post about LGBTQIA+ representation in books. They are the reason I read Dress Codes for Small Towns, which is now one of my favorite books, and they always inspire me to read more Queer YA fiction.

I hope you all check out some of these amazing trans people! Leave some of your favorite trans content creators below, so we can all support even more talented trans folks!

tdov 2018

Should Non-Queer People Play Queer Characters?

There’s nothing more disappointing to me than enjoying a queer character in a show, looking up the actor, and finding out they aren’t a part of the LGBTQIA+ community at all. It’s not like there’s a shortage of talented queer actors; Hollywood just doesn’t cast them. With over 10% of the population being LGBTQIA+ in some capacity, there’s definitely a plethora of talented queer actors, probably even some that identify the same way as their character does.

Representation is incredibly important for every minority group. While there’s been more LGBTQIA+ representation in the media in 2017 than ever before, we still have a lot of progress that needs to be made. It would be ridiculous and wrong for someone to play a black character if they weren’t black, so why do we treat sexuality and gender that way? Sure, some non-queer actors do a pretty damn good job playing queer characters, but they just don’t have the experience. They don’t know the struggle, and it really shows when they do interviews about their show/movie. As much as I think we really need to support queer media as a whole, I would rather support queer artists making LGBTQIA+ content.

As a young queer person, I often find myself finding other LGBTQIA+ identifying people, mainly queer women, to look up to. I really needed solid representation when I was figuring everything out, and straight women playing lesbians on TV just wasn’t what I wanted or needed. I also have a problem with the specific type of cis-straight-heteroromantic people that are casted. They are almost always white, able-bodied, and financially privileged. The real LGBTQIA+ community is diverse in every sense of the word. Hot white gays are not the majority, and their stories are not the most important ones to be told. Queer people of color, and disabled queer people’s stories and accomplishments are constantly being erased.

The history behind the character is important. People who are figuring out their gender and/or sexuality need to see queer people living “normal” lives. Straight-Cis-Heteroromantic actors just can’t possibly convey that, or be that representation off the show. Recently, Stephanie Beatriz’s Character Rosa, on the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, came out as bisexual. The only thing that’s cooler than Hollywood actually letting someone say the word “bisexual” on TV, is that Stephanie is bisexual. She is a perfect example of good queer representation. I wish we saw this more often.

Do you think non-queer people should play queer characters? Who are some of your favorite LGBTQIA+ actors?

How did you know you were gay?

Even though I’ve been out for a few years now, I’ve never really had anyone ask me “How did you know you were gay?” until a few weeks ago. One of my lab partners (who’s also gay) asked me this kind of out of the blue while we were working on our lab report after class. Honestly, I didn’t have a great answer prepared.

I told her about an experience I had sophomore year of high school, where I randomly had a huge crush on this girl I didn’t really know in my Chemistry class. I wrote about that crush a long time ago, but I’ve since come to some other realizations. I think she could have been replaced with a thousand different people and it wouldn’t have made a difference. It’s not that I don’t have standards, or that I’m attracted to every girl I come in contact with – that’s far from the truth. It was just a period of time where I was questioning and figuring everything out, and she just so happened to be in the same class as me.

Now, my lab partner wasn’t exactly satisfied with this story. “But how do you know it wasn’t just her?” That question threw me for a loop a little bit. There’s no good answer, I just do. It’s a feeling that, I don’t feel the need to question anymore. For me, sexuality isn’t a complicated part of my life. I know how I feel, and who I like. It’s just that simple. It wasn’t that easy in the beginning, but over time the doubts left and I feel perfectly content with the conclusion. I don’t have some great story about being swept off my feet by the love of my life, and I don’t think having that kind of story is necessary. I wanted the experience to be casual and simple, and it was.

Her questions came from a place of curiosity, but they definitely made me think about a few things. Why are people so obsessed with knowing every thought that goes through queer people’s minds when questioning their sexuality or gender? Also, why do they feel the need to question it’s authenticity? One of my favorite qutoes from Denice Frohman’s poem “Dear Straight People” is:

” Dear Straight People, I’m tired of proving my love is authentic, so I’m calling the reparations on your ass. When did you realize you were straight? Who taught you?Did it happen because your parents are divorced? Did it happen because your parents are not divorced? Did it happen because you sniffed too much glue in fifth grade? Dear Straight People, why do I have to prove my love is authentic? Why do I have to prove my love is authentic? Why do I have to prove my love is authentic?”

I get a whole lot of “I would have never known” and “Really???” This has to do with the fact that I don’t look queer enough in straight people’s eyes. I wear makeup, have shoulder length hair, and generally act feminine enough to be shoved (forcefully) into the straight box. I can look in the mirror and think, “wow I look really gay today” (in a proud way) and still no one suspects a damn thing. The authenticity of my gayness is questioned because I don’t look the part or fit perfectly into the tiny box created for the stereotypical lesbian.

I don’t mind answering these questions, or most questions for that matter. However, I am tired of both people in my day to day life as well as society as a whole questioning who I am because I don’t fit the mold. So, how did I know I was gay? I trusted myself, and through lots of introspection discovered the answer to this aspect of my life. Maybe it’s not the best answer, or the answer people want to hear, but it’s the most honest one.

National Coming Out Day 2017

Happy National Coming Out Day!

For those who do not know, National Coming Out Day began on October 11th, 1987 when half a million people marched on Washington for LGBT Rights. Since that day, October 11th has been used to celebrate coming out and being out. Many people also use this day to come out for the very first time, or come out to a new person/group.

I remember when national coming out day came around while I was still in the closet. I felt a sense of urgency to do it that day, but got nervous and waited some more. National Coming Out Day is not supposed to pressure anyone to come out when they’re not ready, so if you’re in the closet and don’t feel ready – don’t come out today! This day did give me a little nudge to bit the bullet and tell my parents. I think it was beneficial to me to have national coming out day take place during the time I was deciding when to come out.

Part of me feels like we shouldn’t have to “come out” per se. We should be able to just start seeing someone, or have it come up in conversation. A big dramatic “let’s sit down and cry moment” isn’t always necessary or wanted. If that is your experience, there isn’t anything wrong with that, coming out to my parents was mildly dramatic, but if that’s not the experience you want then it doesn’t have to be that way.

For me, being out is liberating and incredibly important. I always try to be the “out person” that I needed when I was questioning my sexuality. Being out for me can also be very political, especially right now. Having out role models is crucial for people in the closet. It’s also really important for everyone else to see that LGBTQIA+ people are not some far off distant idea, but rather are your neighbors, friends, colleagues, and family members.

I hope everyone has an incredible National Coming Out Day, and is able to celebrate being LGBTQIA+!

Gender and Chronic Illness

Most abled people assume that if you get sick there will be a doctor there full of empathy and ready to save the day – this however is not the narrative of many people who have chronic illnesses.

While I personally have never been straight up told I’m faking it, it’s been implied and stated multiple times that I was being dramatic or “just had anxiety.” I feel like it’s important to note that every time this has happened, it was coming from a man. I came to the realization a long time ago that a lot of medical professionals see me as a teenage girl who’s over dramatic and just wants to get a few days off school. This profiling happens before I open my mouth and once that decision has been made in their mind it is nearly impossible to change it.

Many people who end of being diagnosed with endometriosis or ovarian cysts are told that it’s “just their period” and that they need to learn how to deal with cramps.Women and feminine presenting people are disproportionally targeted when it comes to doctors disbelief of their symptoms. Men and masculine presenting people on the other hand often try to “tough it out” and don’t go to the doctor until long after it’s necessary due to being afraid of not “taking it like a man” ; or they do go to the doctor and the doctor essentially tells them to “man up.” These gender stereotypes are incredibly harmful, especially within the medical world.

Back in February of this year I had an electrophysiology study, and the experience was less than pleasant. After the study I had a reaction to the medication they gave me to speed up my heart rate, and my whole body began to tremor. A rapid response team was called and all of the nurses were visibly concerned, and knew something was wrong. The doctor who came in however, was super nonchalant about everything and left the room while I was still having the tremors.

Later the next morning when my doctor (at the time) came to see me he said he thought I had anxiety and that’s why the whole incident occurred. Obviously that was not the case, and he just didn’t want to figure out what is actually wrong with me. There are two conclusions I’ve drawn from this situation: 1) because I’m a teenage girl he thought I was being dramatic, 2) it was going to take time and testing to figure out what’s wrong with my heart (plus I’m considered a “complicated care”) so my situation would not be easy money for him.

This is just one of many events where men downplayed my symptoms / disability and reduced me to “just an anxious teenage girl.” Not all chronic illnesses are created equally and not all experiences with chronic illness are the same. Gender and Sex can be a huge factor is getting a diagnosis, even when your illness has nothing to do with either of those. Have you ever had a bad medical experience due to your gender? Did gender or sex affect your diagnosis process?

 

The Language of Disability

Not that long ago I didn’t consider myself disabled. Society had taught me disabled people were in wheelchairs, had some level of impaired mobility, or had moderate to severe cognitive disabilities. Sure chronic illness had completely taken over my life, but in my eyes I wasn’t disabled enough.

Fast forward to maybe nine months ago, I realized I was in fact disabled by my chronic illnesses and took on the label with pride. For me disabled is both a description of how chronic illness affects my life and a political label. I don’t have a problem with being referred to as disabled, because it’s true.

A lot of people however don’t seem to like the word “disabled.” When I was in high school I applied to become a “Best Buddy” which is a program where you befriend someone in the special education program. Fortunately or unfortunately for me (depending on how you look at it) they didn’t have enough special ed kids for all of the volunteers to have a buddy, so I never got one.

I did go to a training class after school one day, and something from it has stuck with me. They talked about how you shouldn’t ever say someone is disabled, instead say “a person with a disability, differently abled, or handi-capable.” The funny thing about the language of disability is I only see parents/caretakers asking people not to say disabled, never actual disabled people. I’m sure there are disabled people out there who don’t like the term, but I personally haven’t run across any. Many people take on the label with pride and try to advocate for themselves and others with disabilities.

I personally have a problem with the term “differently abled.” Disabled people aren’t differently abled, they are disabled. There are things we can’t do, point blank, end of story. For me some days I can do something and the next day I can’t, but there are also things that I’m never abled to do no matter the circumstances. “A person with a disability” isn’t offensive, I just find it unnecessary. The argument for the other side is that you should put the person before the disability. I feel you don’t have to take that literally. As long as someone is being respectful and isn’t ¬†using a demonizing or belittling tone, then there isn’t anything wrong with saying “disabled people” or a “disabled person.”

Of course you should treat someone like a human being, and not reduce them to their diagnosis. However I don’t fid it necessary to say “person with a disability” every time you speak about disabilities. What are your thoughts? Do you use the term disabled to describe yourself?