Lesbian Gender Aesthetic

The other day I was on a panel for a sex therapist class and I described my ideal gender presentation as “lesbian.” Now I know that lesbian is a sexuality, not a gender, and that lesbians have a very broad range of gender expressions from high femme to hard butch. But as a kid, I was always drawn to lesbians because of how often those were the people I saw in society breaking down gender norms. Where “tomboy” wasn’t just a phase as a kid but something you could be every day throughout your life. Where you could have short hair and wear plaid shirts and still be feminine. Where the people you slept with wasn’t dependent on how you dressed but it could still be a way of expressing your sexuality through clothing.

The closer I get to being a lesbian, the happier I am. Even though I know both my gender and sexuality are more complicated than that, it’s the person I always wanted to be as a kid.

To be or to love

My deepest truth is that I have never been able to disentangle my desire to be with women from my desire to be a woman.

I have always been most comfortable in the company of women and had a hard time connecting to masculinity. The only men I have been able to get close to are the ones who are more effeminate in their interests and presentation as well. As a kid and as an adult I frequently find myself being the only non-woman in a classroom or workplace, especially since I work in a career path that is 95% women. And now, as I prepare to take feminizing hormones, I find myself having to come to grips with that fact once more.

For the past few years I have entertained the fantasy that I am queer enough to date across the full gender spectrum. But if I’m being honest with myself I can look back and realize that beyond the trends of convenience there is the sad fact that I just don’t connect as deeply with masculine people. As much as I love my transmasculine siblings, I don’t have the same chemistry with them as I do with femmes. And I always feel terribly awkward around cis men and out of place in gay male culture.

I’ve frequently joked about being a lesbian to cover up the fact that I desperately wish I could truly be considered one. And when I think about transition, this is really the biggest thing that draws me to doing a more binary route. My femininity has always been about how I relate and want to relate to women, not about my relationship to men. Which I think is why I’ve always been drawn to feminist circles even when that was highly taboo for my culture.

As terrible as the world is around us, the part that saddens me the most is the bigots within our own movement who seek to exclude people like me – the TERFs (Trans Exclusionary “Radical Feminists”). I can kinda understand why the world at large has a hard time wrapping its head around me and how I defy categories. But for a group of people who spend so much time thinking about gender and the constructs surrounding it to pretend like it is so impermeable that I can never cross that threshold really does hold me back. I desperately want to be included in everything as “one of the girls” but I know that no matter how hard I fight, I can never pass enough to do so.

I am so grateful for my friends who have made conscious efforts at inclusivity. I recently was invited to a gaming group that a friend expanded to include women and femmes. And every time someone lumps me in with a group that is primarily women I get warm fuzzy feelings. Does this mean that I am a trans woman and genderqueer is just a waypoint on my journey? I honestly don’t know.

What I do know is that I can only take it one step at a time. I am excited to start estrogen and see what effect that has on my brain and my body. A lot of the things people talk about experiencing are already commonplace for me like the readily accessible emotions, the frequent crying, and the mood cycles. So if I am already like this without hormones, what will that look like? Who knows. Maybe I will eventually become the lesbian I’ve always dreamed of being.

Gem Fusion

I don’t know how I’ve made it this long without gushing about Steven Universe! If you haven’t watched it yet you really should because it is THE best animated show on TV. It seems like a kids show at first but it has deep themes of queer representation, non-traditional families and gender roles, nonbinary characters, authentic relationship building skills, and self awareness.

As a nonbinary person I often feel like a gem fusion is the best way to describe what it is like to be me. Stevonnie, the nonbinary character who is a fusion of the titular Steven and his girlfriend Connie, is the most obvious analogy as it is a blend of their features, personalities, and genders meeting somewhere in the middle as a tall, attractive, dark haired androgyne.

But more often these days I find myself feeling like Garnet – a semi-permanent fusion between the volatile and aggressive Ruby and the prescient and peaceful Sapphire. They are both considered women but they represent very different ends of the gender presentation and behavior spectrum within femininity. Ruby wears pants and has a temper and personality that would typically be associated with masculinity. Sapphire wears a long dress, speaks softly, and is both kind and firm at the same time. Their relationship is a very obvious metaphor for queerness as the fusion of two different types of gems (as compared to two Rubies) is a taboo which results in them being shunned and hunted by the militaristic and colonizing Homeworld Gems.

While I could never aspire to be as cool and collected as Garnet herself, I really resonate with these two aspects of myself, the masculine and the feminine, blending together and co-existing in a single body while still being a woman. I’m much more of a lesbian than I want to admit, despite admiring some men physically, and the enduring romance between Ruby and Sapphire always gives me big feels. I hope that someday I can fully embody their values of flexibility, love, and trust in both myself and my relationships.