This week I read an essay by A.E. Osworth at Autostraddle that was so beautiful I read it four times in one day. It is a marvel of prose and craft and descriptions of gender and sexuality and identity that I want to swim in forever. I can’t wait to teach it in one of my writing classes, I love it so much.
Inscrutable genders from outer space to the front, those that can be best described as “smell of campfire” && “a great pink shape.” && those best described as “a single chandelier earring dragging across your chest while we fuck.” && those who describe themselves as “common grackle sounds” && “the sensation, but not the taste, of warm tea.” && “James Dean, but with tiddies.” && all the people with all the genders I haven’t thought of yet, that no one has thought of yet, least of all themselves.
I was so moved by the essay and its descriptions of gender that I decided to write my own and I am sending this very rough, very writing-prompty word vomit out into the world as an act of catharsis and vulnerability and an attempt to live more fully in the unknowns and the unfinished spaces I’m currently occupying within myself.
my gender is femme with edges so hard they hurt, soft body hair & giant earrings & so many layers of clothing that undressing me is like unwrapping a gift you're very lucky to get. it’s layered like an onion on the inside, too—peeling one layer back will only reveal another. it exists beyond the limits of what society told me I should be. it's a giant fuck you.
it is making my breasts smaller under my clothes and in the world but pushing them up and out and into the hands and mouths of my lovers, reveling in their size and lushness and the pleasure they provide me. let it be said that I have great tits. you would love them if I ever let you have them.
it is getting rid of all my dresses except those two or three that still sometimes feel good, just to keep things interesting. it is an impeccably tailored suit in the loudest pattern they sell. it is hair so bright you can see me from down the street, sides cut short so I can rub my fingers against the grain, so your fingers can feel my scalp, so that the speckles of gray that dot my mane sparkle like glitter in the sunlight.
my gender is maximalism: it is too much. too many colors, too many textures, too many patterns, too many truths. it is expansive, limitless, spilling out so that it cannot be contained.
my gender is not enough: not enough words, not enough frameworks, not enough models, not enough time spent allowing myself to truly know it.
my gender is not for you. or you. or you. or him.
it is a contradiction, rich in its insistence that it can be everything it wants to be and nothing that it does not. that it can choose to shrug off the prescriptions and expectations that other people put on it and instead try on the pieces that fit, that feel like they were always meant to be there.
my gender is they/them/theirs because it causes you to pause and think, to disrupt what and who you think i am, the assumptions you make about me when you look at me, an acknowledgment that the box of “woman” was always too tight, always fit me just a little bit wrong.
it is also she/her/hers but only if i say so, only if I trust you enough that I believe you truly see me, witness my inability to be categorized, read the all-encompassing femme-ness i possess but understand that I am decidedly not-woman.
as soon as I figure out the exact contours of my gender, they will change again, keeping everyone guessing—including me. and that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it?