Feminine Expression and Acceptance

'No fem.'

'Masc only.'

'Straight acting.'

'I'm a dude you should be one too.'

These are all things I've encountered on Grindr (a "dating" app for men interested in other men). On things like Tinder, the more straight inclined version, women tend to be eloquent and subtle about their denial for those men who have a more feminine expression, offering things about how they're not into "sensitive" guys or just aggressively pushing on how they themselves enjoy fishing and hunting and beer and how any fella interested in them should feel the same.

This sort of segregation and denial of feminine men exists in my personal life even, with friends of mine saying how they prefer extremely masculine men. Of course, this is not something targeted at me specifically and shouldn't be read as being purposefully hurtful but, occasionally, it is.

I find myself constantly failing in regards to what society expects me to be. If I was a cisman (one who identifies with the male gender they were assigned at birth) they would still expect this, though not as excessively as they do when I identify as a transman. Then I should be extra masculine, shouldn't I? After all, that is my "chosen identity" so it's what makes sense, right? Wrong. I'm fed up with this femme silencing.

It seems that a guy like me can't ever really get a break. I'm now consistently male passing even in a skirt or makeup (mostly due to a refusal to shave my beard, one of the few reasons that I pass so well) but I am almost instantly taken out of what little dating pool I fall into because of this, especially while living in a more rural community.

I'm too feminine for most 'manly men' who feel the need to be as masculine as possible to somehow make up for liking other men (and expect their partners to feel the same) and I'm nowhere near masculine enough for most women as, once again, if they're going to date a guy he's gotta act, dress, and speak like a real man.

Falling in the middle, both in body and with how I dress, is what makes me comfortable. I feel attractive when I take time to do makeup or sculpt my facial hair, I feel desirable in a flippy skirt or click-clacking boots.

In the same respect, I love my lower voice, the soft scratch of my facial hair, and I'm just as likely to be in plaid and jeans as I am to be in anything covered in sequins or lace.

I still listen to practicality when living in Montana, pay attention to the weather and where I plan on going that day because I don't have any intention of getting the crap beaten out of me if I can help it. Thanks to this, people see me in public or in a photo and start making assumptions based off an aged stereotype -- they assume I'm dumb, dramatic, and "girly" in everything I do.

In truth the only thing "girly" (whatever that really means these days) about me is the genitalia I still possess and how I dress sometimes. Both of which shouldn't be gendered. Gender should be about what you're most comfortable identifying as and, when I get home to the safety of my apartment you'll find me in shorts, a t-shirt, with no makeup and playing with my dog. Because at the end of the day I'm just human, albeit a more flexible, fluid one.

My opinion isn't shared by most people. They still will make judgements based on how I dress (for example, I'm always considered completely gay -- and admit to playing up to that role just because it's easier -- even though I identify as bisexual), thinking that they know my personality or what I'm more likely to enjoy.

The only people that seem to find me attractive are those that fetishize everything about me, from my transgender status to my 'cross-dressing tendencies'. Now I don't want all of this to come off as me complaining that I'm not getting laid as much as I want to. This isn't about that, I'm just using dating as framework to talk about a bigger issue. Being feminine is considered undesirable and weak. In so many ways women are still considered weak and frivolous.

For someone that passes as male to "lower" themselves to be like a woman is considered downright scandalous. It's this root of sexism that I want to address with this post and make you think about.

If there is nothing wrong with being a woman then there shouldn't be anything wrong with dressing in clothes marketed towards them. Sure, I like makeup -- I also like going to the gym and am looking at increasing muscle definition. Heels make me feel like a king and I know nothing about fixing a car but that doesn't make me any less of a man or any less attractive as a possible partner. Doesn't make me lesser than the sum of my parts or worse than any person on this earth.

All I ask is that my dear readers think about this. I want you to question the notions that you have and what you see when you look at people. It's impossible to tell what is going on in the mind of others, something that I highlight again and again in this blog. Don't ever feel guilty about your own preferences in your sexuality but do question why you might have those preferences.

Never judge someone based on how they prefer to dress or how they have to dress -- there have been countless times in my life that a combination between no money and living out of a single bag meant I was, as my father once put it, 'a bag lady', looking ironically enough like the homeless person I was.

Other times I doll up and glitz as much as possible but even now I guarantee that no total outfit cost more than a hundred dollars when all is said and done. All I want is to be comfortable and to make others question what they think of as 'normal' or 'right'. At the end of the day, that's exactly what I do. So go out, ask questions -- you'll be surprised by what you find.