I identify as a femme. It’s perhaps a strange thing to identify as, given I’m neither a woman nor a lesbian (and yes, one doesn’t require the other).
I’m not going to talk about what femme is. That’s been covered by many other people, far more knowledgeable than I. I’ll put some resources at the bottom, for those unfamiliar.
Instead, I’m going to talk about what femme means to me. Femme is a term that encompasses both my presentation and identity, blurring the lines between who I am and how the world perceives me.
Femme is about being seen. I am highly visible by my nature, with both the normative public and my queer community seeing me on the front lines by how I dress and act. To be seen by people as defying the gender norms is to invite scrutiny and hatred, and to be seen as female in this world is to invite attention. I cannot escape that, nor do I wish to.
Femme is about being invisible. To the world and my queer community, I am seen as a trans woman before anything else. I love my trans sisters, but I do not count myself among them. In my non-binary community, I find my voice often ignored. I do not fault my community for this, as we are all products of a system that does it’s best to put us where we belong.
Femme is about queerness. From its roots as fem in lesbian bars in the 60s and 70s to today, femme has been an intentional construct for queers by queers. It is about putting my energy and aesthetic into something that is not for the straight world, but for my world to appreciate and admire.
Femme is about sex. Historically it has been about breaking free of the stigma of women’s sexuality, to accept and embrace one’s queer desires. For me, it is also strongly about breaking free of masculine sexuality, to emphasize being objectified over objectifying, to give and take power as equals outside of the confining construct of heterosexuality. As a femme, I can embrace my pleasure as I never could before.
Femme is about softness. It’s about healing, about connection, and it’s about growth. It’s about finding the broken things in this world and opening your heart to them. It’s about being hurt over and over again as you try to heal the world’s hurts. It’s about caring.
Femme is about hardness. It’s about defying society to do it’s worst. It’s about spitting in the eye of the world which tries to shove you into a box, about taking the punches without flinching. It’s about surviving anything sent your way with a smile and a wink. It’s about being brave in the face of everything. It’s about kicking ass without breaking a nail.
Being femme is about living with contradictions. It’s about embracing the conflicts within myself and the world at large and building something fabulous from it.
I hope I can live up to these words. I know I’ll look great doing them, though. 😉