What gives me strength today is the idea that I get to undermine those unwritten rules telling women what they are supposed to look and act like –and that excites me.
There’s a unique form of strength required to walk through this world as a woman. It’s a strength I’ve always admired and sought to embody even when I wasn’t sure if I deserved to. More on that later.
I never really felt like I fit in with the other girls growing up since I didn’t like wearing dresses or make-up and didn’t really get how to attract boys. I usually would rather just be friends with them anyways. It was pretty clear from an early age that I had some awkwardness/uncertainty surrounding gender and it made me feel like I was less of a woman. I told myself I was just a “tomboy”, which is okay right? Plenty of girls like wearing pants and playing sports. I’d work with that and have a normal life with a normal boyfriend one day. No worries.
In my case, coming out as queer in college really put some pieces in place for me. Although gender and sexuality are completely separate, my epiphanies regarding gender expression and sexuality came at around the same time. I felt like I finally had some answers as to why I never really “fit in” with the other girls. Finding a community of other proud queer women I identified with was huge for me. As I came into my queer identity I decided to cut my hair short and felt comfortable finally buying those clothes from the men’s section I always gravitated towards but was always too embarrassed to actually try on or buy.
With this new found comfort in my body came a conflicting feeling of getting further away from being that proud woman I’ve always wanted to embody. I started getting mis-gendered in public spaces (especially when trying to use the restroom) which still makes me incredibly uncomfortable to this day. How do I reconcile my yearning to find my strength as a woman and also lean into my new queer identity that ends up making me look like “less of a woman”? Do I deserve to identify as a woman when I walk through the world being called “sir” and startle people in every gendered space I ever enter? Even though I’ve found a community with my queerness I still don’t “fit in” in this gendered world, and that still gets to me more than I’d like to admit.
What gives me strength today is the idea that I get to undermine those unwritten rules telling women what they are supposed to look and act like –and that excites me. Sometimes I find myself wishing I could just blend in since it would make things easier, but at the end of the day I’m proud of who I am and how I present myself to the world, and no one can take that away from me.
Let’s change the rules. Let’s celebrate that unique form of strength women call upon every day to walk through this world, revere those who embody it, and create a world where anyone can tap into that strength even if they don’t think they can, or deserve to.