I’ve got a surgery coming up on Monday, March 2nd, as I talked about in my last post, and since tomorrow will be largely dedicated to blood work and the weekend to getting a few last things done, I decided today to get my hair cut. I hadn’t done that since before GRL Atlanta, so a year and a half ago, and it had grown out long, past my shoulders, a symbol of how much I don’t care about myself or what people see when they look at me… more or less.
The problem is that in order to not care what others think of me, I have to choose not to care what I think about me. That’s a slippery slope. In a world in which many people refuse to simply let me be me without demanding explanations for why I’d “be like this,” it’s often simpler just to let things slide. To just stop wasting precious energy on appearances when the best I can hope for is to make someone wonder if I’m a man or a woman before defaulting back to “ma’am”.
When I showed Clancy a pic of my new haircut, her response was “looking good!” followed by, in further conversation, reminding me guys can have long hair too. It’s true, and it’s glorious, and I am the last person to deny my passion for long-haired men. Unf.
My answer, though?
i prefer to look more butch for my own sanity. […] with long hair no one hesitates before they ma’am me. short hair i get that moment of “…is that–” and it’s good for my dysphoria. all the knowing “guys have long hair too” in the world doesn’t fix that deep down something in me is busted and gets wounded by people’s certainty i’m not a guy haha. if the best i can do is make them doubt for a minute, then i’ll take it. that’s sad, isn’t it? haha
The eternally awesome Clancy replied that it was more sad that it’s so important to people to know whether someone else is male or female. That it’s more sad that society trains us to categorize people–to define them–ourselves instead of just asking their pronouns.
Breaking out of the binary is desperately important, but not just for trans* individuals… Imagine how much more open our minds would be as a culture if our first thought on seeing someone else wasn’t “what’s in their undies?” but instead “how does that person see themself?”
This, like so many problems, could fall under the umbrella of intersectional feminism. Picture a world in which whether or not you have a vagina has no bearing on how you are viewed or defined as a worker, a parent, a voter, or a consumer. Picture a world in which the way you define yourself is the first impression someone else receives of you rather than the arbitrary box they’ve chosen to shove you in.
Those concepts may seem loosely related, but gender as a construct is used to empower people who support and uphold the patriarchal framework, turning some people into gender police who receive social kickbacks for “keeping the freaks in their places” or even just for criticizing cis women who step outside the narrow paths the Good Ole Boy network deems fit for their dainty lil selves.
Someday we’ll stop doing this to ourselves. Someday we’ll stop pretending that cunt or cock or something else is what makes us who we are. We’ll accept that some very feminine people love football and that some very masculine people love ballet. We’ll start to ask questions about each other before we form easy judgments and then enforce them because we’d feel foolish had we been wrong in that instant opinion. Maybe asking people who they are instead of just assuming isn’t such a crazy idea, huh?
Maybe all we need is a new approach. Next time someone’s gender presentation makes you curious or uncomfortable, instead of trying to figure out whether to say sir or ma’am, maybe you should ask, “What are your pronouns?” You just might be part of a revolution that gives you a better life too.