This question was actually asked by a friend of a friend about a month ago, during which we were staying at said friend’s house. It was late in the afternoon, and we were just sitting in her livingrooom bullshitting to pass the time. The topic of clothes and appearances came up, and the friend of a friend–let’s call her Shelby–looked over at me and said, “Sara, I know you’re a lesbian and all, and dressing like a guy is your style, but don’t you think that you’re reaching a point that it’s getting confusing for people to realize that you’re not actually trying to be a guy?
I thought about this for a moment and asked her what she meant, exactly. After all, everyone that knows me knows that I wear men’s clothes, and not a single one of them had ever asked or assumed that I was trying to be a man. I was okay with what was between my legs, and I was plenty happy with having my girlfriend evoke some pretty damn good feelings from those parts. I personally think dicks are gross, and I would never wish to have one near or on my body, let alone experiment with a strap-on–yet another line I’ll never cross. I completely understood that some trans men didn’t mind if they still were the owner of a vagina, either, but they still identified as male, where I did not.
You see where I’m going here?
Well, she attempted to defend her previous statement by rewording it, explaining that a good amount of people were always giving me the old “double-glance” when I would be out in public, scratching their heads and pulling friends aside for a second opinion. In fact, she recalled an incident at McDonald’s when I was walking with my friend to the restrooms one night. There had been a small group of 20-40 year old women seated near the restrooms, talking amongst themselves about some business they had to tend to later that night. As soon as my friend and I entered the building and swept past them, the conversation took a hard left and landed on a different subject. Me.
“Is that a woman?” one of them would ask. “No, no. Look at what they’re wearing,” another would pipe up. “They are totally walking like a dude.”
However, on our way back out, the women had taken a second, longer look at me, and the words “woman” and “female” were passed around with no problem. No extreme cases of shock. They simply realized that I was a female dressing and appearing in a male/masculine way, and that was the end of it.
So, exactly when do people come to the conclusion that I’m attempting to defy my sex? Yes, sex. As in, the private parts you have, a completely different thing than gender, which is a mentality.
Shelby brought up the fact that I consistently wore constricting sports bras that flattened my breasts quite a lot, and that I wouldn’t wear any items of clothing that brought attention to them whatsoever. Oh, honey. A lot of women are unhappy with their breasts, whether it be size, color, shape, etc. They then change their appearance with different tactics that include their clothing. That’s what push-up bras were made for! I just happen to be one of the women that dislikes her breasts to the point that I prefer having a flat chest, so I make due with tighter bras that compress and constrict.
“But don’t you feel like you’re offending the FtM trans community because you can pass as a male without trying to?” Shelby queried, her tone sounding almost desperate. “Some people have a lot of tough challenges to face every day, and yet you can just put on a shirt and a hat and look just like an average guy.”
I am not even a member of the trans community! I’m not “passing”, I’m being myself and dressing like myself. I know that there are people out there that are struggling, and I really feel for them, because I know it’s a hard thing to do. But the fact is, their problems are not mine, and I won’t change or lighten up the way I portray myself just because it’s possibly offending others. Shit, half my life has involved offending others, and I’m sure as hell not going to stop now or anytime soon. It’s not my fucking job to explain my lifestyle and clothing choices to anyone, and I don’t remember signing a contract that said I had to reassure people of what I was doing just because they were uncomfortable.
Shelby was now pretty embarrassed and quite red in the face at this point, struggling to come up with another statement to prove whatever the hell kind of point she’s trying to make. I tell her as gently as I can to “stop fucking talking” and I proceed to move the conversation over to a different topic.
Is there honestly a line between personality and identity, and to cross it means to make yourself into someone completely different? There are so many gray areas to fall into these days that I just can’t see there being an actual level of how much of something you can be before you fall into a totally different category.
My name is Sara and I’m a lesbian. I am a dyke, butch, boi, stud, whatever you want to call me, that’s me. I am a cisgender female and I enjoy dressing and presenting as masculine as humanly possible without having a beard or balls. I bind down my breasts because I like it. You won’t find a feminine thing on my person. My girlfriend presents just as masculine as I do, and she identifies as female, as well. That’s who I am, and you’d better get used to it, because I’ll be around for quite awhile.
Have some damn respect and stop assuming things you haven’t even comprehended yet.
PS: Here are the links to two of the poems that I have posted on my blog. They further explain my identity and how I present myself.