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Frowning on Femmes: Policing Femme Gender Expression

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When a world famous drag queen is physically removed from a gay club in Paris for presenting too femininely, what does that say about the queer community’s acceptance of femme gender expression? Nothing positive, that’s for sure. The Season 7 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Violet Chachki, was physically dragged out of the gay club Le Depot in Paris this past month. While they weren’t in drag, they were wearing makeup, and were not deemed masc enough to be allowed in. Chachki agrees that the policy is transphobic, which confirms that even if a space says it is queer/trans friendly, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.

Femme Fundamentals

Le Depot is a prime example of the disgust and rejection of femininity in the queer and trans communities. To be femme means different things to different people. According to the lesbian blog Autostraddle, “femme” is a descriptor for a queer person who presents and acts in a traditionally feminine manner. Gina Tonic, a writer at media company Bustle, claims that “all femmes hit upon two key aesthetic and identity-related traits: Being feminine and falling somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum.”

For a non cis, white perspective, I asked Romeo Jackson, a 24 year old black, nonbinary femme student at the University of Utah, what femme means to them.

“Resistance; survival. To me, it is an homage to ways in which we have tried to eradicate black women from the Earth – from existence. It’s also a disposition, something you feel. Earrings, hoops, and lipstick are part of that, but more importantly, femme is owning something that is despised in our culture.”

The Power of Femme

Jackson confirms that the queer community has quite a bit of work ahead of us in regards to accepting and celebrating femme expression and culture. “We can’t be misogynistic. We have to understand what femininity looks like. That starts with people in power resisting the hyper masculine nature that we lean towards.” There are even opportunities to embrace femininity in activities as small as icebreakers for groups activities. “We do team builders in queer spaces but I’ve always wonderred, why don’t we take teen magazine quizzes and talk about those? Femininity is seen as unimportant.”

One of my personal role models is the gender non-conforming performance artist, writer, educator, and entertainer, Alok Vaid-Menon. “Their eclectic sense of style, political comedy, and poetic challenge to the gender binary have been internationally renowned. Alok was recently the youngest recipient of the prestigious Live Works Performance Act Award granted to ten performance artists across the world. They have been featured on HBO, MTV, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New York Times, and The New Yorker and have presented their work at 300 venues in more than 30 countries.” Their Facebook and Instagram posts often feature their phenomenal outfits and inspirational, personal, and poignant commentary.

The last time I wore this outfit (photo on the left) I was punched in the face by a white man who told me that “He was okay with gay people, but I was too much!” Every time I saw this outfit in my closet I thought about that man, that pain, that fear…and I couldn’t bring myself to wear it again. It’s been a year today since the incident & I decided to wear that red jumpsuit out with a big smile and a belief in something greater than myself. That man was wrong about a lot of things: but he was right about something. I AM too much! I am TOO honest, TOO beautiful, and TOO powerful to prioritize other people’s hatred over my joy. I am TOO free for fragile masculinity and I am TOO determined to end the gender binary to give up!

A post shared by ALOK ? (@alokvmenon) on

Femme: The Final Frontier

As my conversation with Jackson came to a close, it ended on a healing and inspirational note, as well as a call to action.

“Cis women, trans women, nonbinary people who are femme – there is a radical potential to build together. We could reimagine gender systems. So much of our society is based off of masculinity and capitalistic notions of femininity. Groups of femme folks working together will transform queer politics in a beautiful way.”

Sara Whittington is a genderqueer artist raised in Central Louisiana, but currently residing in Brooklyn, NY. They have had the good fortune to be able to travel across the country, as well as abroad. Some of their favorite trips thus far have been adventuring across Iceland, spending summers on Lake Michigan, and a family celebration in Mundesley, England. In their spare time, Sara enjoys writing letters to loved ones.

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Decoding Male Fragility

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The conundrum that is male toxicity and his narcissistic cousin fragility, do the most in destroying lives. The notorious duo symbolizes deep hurt and pain for others. For people embedded with the duo traits skewed wiring allows them to inflict abuse without remorse. Personality disorders and mental health are things we need to address. I don’t claim to know it all, but as a writer and social scientist, I see trends and patterns, and a deep need for dialogue and prevention.

Male Toxicity and Fragility Are Destroyers of Spirits and Lives

What I know to be fact, is that anyone can be victimized by male toxicity and fragility. Men with these issues do their best work when preying on women and children. When male toxicity and fragility hang out together, the goal is getting what they what, when they want it. If that means choking a woman out, so be it. When they’re on the scene women can count on being called out of their name, leered at, the recipient of unwanted advances including invitations to be sexed down, being raped if she’s not ”with it”, and general disrespect. If she chooses to ignore the signs she may end up a willing participant in a game of inter-partner violence and fighting for her life.

Inequality Is Real Deal Stuff

That’s real. Don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for your troubles either. The general consensus can come from men and women alike, who believe that the transgression, whatever it is, happened because of something a woman did or didn’t do. The way patriarchy is set up, men stick together on some tired ass notion that they rule. They think inequality is fine, and anyone pushing outside those restraints is the enemy.

They imagine that women should be doing something different, bigger and better perhaps, to keep him happy at all costs. If you disagree, you hate men. Even if you didn’t sweat a toxic male about the big things, small things, or anything at all, he’d still come for you. His ego is fed when he controls you. Resist that mess. Even when they say, he’s just being a man, after all. Male toxicity and fragility are currently the cause of death for half of Black women.

Women are Literally Dying At The Hands Of Male Toxicity

On June 21, 2017, report the Center for Prevention and Disease Control (CDC), shared information that states,“half of all female homicide victims experienced intimate partner violence, and that Black women die from that alone cause more than others. There are a lot of women killed by angry men.  Intimate partner violence reduces women to punching bags and a living hell where their survival eventually depends on eating abuse, in order to feed the egos of their abusers until they can flee.

How Many People Do You Know Caught Up In Abuse?

That scenario is between cis women and men, but know, that it can and does play out in queer communities as well. We know how married the queer community is to labels. With those labels come expectations which circle back, looking very hetero in nature. Part of male toxicity requires abusers to make it clear who is most dominant in the relationship. Somewhere scripture that requires men to be leaders of their households gets misinterpreted. The problem is not all men are willing or able to lead in fairness, and with respect. Hence the reasons for womanism and feminism. We’re equal baby, or we’re nothing at all.

The Fallout From Abuse Can Become Cyclical Affecting Generations

If male toxicity and fragility are responsible for the murders of queer and cis women, then all women need to know about self-worth, self-love, and self-defense. Children who see their mother’s being physically, emotionally, and verbally abused, often become victims of abuse later in life. Just as bad, they may become adults who abuse.  

Take Care Of Your Mental Health

I’m very concerned about and dedicated to raising awareness around mental health. When you experience abuse as most queers will at some point, it’s important to be aware of how living with the stress of being queer in a hetero world can wear on mental health. Trust when I tell you, being Black, Queer and Woman is becoming more dangerous every day as the current administration allows for all types of fuckery from people who dislike my whole person, and have never even met me.

Queering Straight Spaces – Bump The Haters!

I get eaten alive in comments on social media from men who measure my worth, deciding I have none when I proclaim my queerness.  They can’t fathom why I don’t have a man. As if my desire to work on me, instead of dating right now is somehow selfish. These men seem to think that they are God’s gift to the world, and maybe they could touch the hem of that realm if they’d lose the arrogance and learn how to engage women.

Trans women Face The Most Discrimination In Today’s Dating World

For trans women trying to date, the subject of late is disclosure. Should they disclose? Are they obligated to do so and at what stage of dating should they spill all? On July 23, 2016, Dwayna Hickerson, 21, fatally stabbed De Whigham, 25, 119 times when he learned she was not born a girl. He’s looking at 40 years without parole and another 15 years for going into Whigham’s purse and lifting her cell phone. Compliments of the Jacksonville, Mississippi legal system and his inability to simply walk away.

When Is It Safe For Trans women To Disclose?

I believe everyone has a right to know who they’re dealing with if sex is going to be involved. But, because male toxicity and fragility are so prevalent, it begs the question, when is a safe time for trans women to reveal she wasn’t born a girl? A fragile person is likely to react violently, regardless of when they’re told. There is a percentage of men in my social media circles who categorically say they would fuck a trans girl up for leading them on. They add if sex occurred she could expect to be choked out.

Other men said simply that it, “ain’t cool.” I think as a woman that the conversation bears more consideration. Women. Are. Dying.  Queer and Str8. That’s the realness of this twisted scenario that lets men think they have the right to control and diminish a woman, at their whim.  

Ladies, Protect Your Energy

It’s imperative that all women know how to protect their minds, hearts, and bodies from fragile ass male egos and men who hate them.  It’s up to women to do the work to figure out just who it is “you be”. Seriously, until you do, you will invite energy that includes the likes of male toxicity and his east side cousin, fragility. For trans girls who are finding your way, get yourself a good mentor. One who is compassionate, consistent, and cares about your well being. Use social media to connect with like minds. Take a break from it as needed, sometimes you need to escape the pure madness floating down your timeline.

Words For Toxic and Fragile Men

To the toxic and fragile men of the world, I hope that you deal with your demons. To live without compassion and respect for all that is woman is to be a soulless spirit. I’m sorry for your past hurts and wish you Godspeed in finding your way back. I prefer not to deal with that energy, but if I have to (we do live in a white supremacist world), I take aim with anyone who threatens my survival.

Words for Trans women

Trans women do need to understand that cis Black women have long suffered at the whims of cis men of all races. We have been dying. Find a gun class for women, by women, get a stun gun, take a self-defense class, do what you need to do to be as safe as possible. Sage advice, and what women do.

In order for allied relationships to form and work between trans, lesbian, and cis women, trans women should be at the table as women, but should come gracefully. Leave that, “I’ll take your man.” ish for the movies and House song lyrics.  For cis women, it’s enough to understand your story, without the switch being flipped and you entering with male privilege slipping through. Let’s be real, in a fair fight (without weapons) some trans women can hold their own against cis males if need be. So check your male privilege that still exists and will peep through as an embedded survival technique.

Words for Cis and Lesbian Women

At the same time, cis women you know the world is ever changing. Trans women love what you represent. The essence of woman is the sweetest and most wonderful thing on the planet. We’re warriors, every one of us. Trans sisters feel that energy, maybe get to know some new folk or at least become educated before throwing people under the bridge. For the haters know this, only someone with a fragile ego grounded in male or female toxicity (yes, some women are evil), is so wounded they can’t lovingly embrace the idea of women and what we bring to the world.  

Travel Advisory Issued

That women cis, lesbian, and trans face threats of violence on a daily, both from intimate partners and strangers in the street is abhorrent. So much so, that the Missouri NAACP  has issued a first ever travel advisory for Blacks, Queers, Women and other minorities.

Read: Anyone other than cis white men is at risk traveling to the “show me” state.  I take that as notice to be on alert wherever we are.

The bottom line is that we have to learn to co exist. Male toxicity and fragility have to be addressed with doable solutions so that murders of women stop and people are held accountable. Transphobia in our communities is a very real thing to those facing it. We can all do much better. Communication is key!

Originally posted 2017-08-11 12:26:33.

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Jared Sexton Weighs In On the Future of LGBTQ+ Under President Trump

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n July 26th, President Trump blindsided citizens and White House officials alike by announcing (via Twitter) that the US government “will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.” The people responded loudly, some with outrage, some with cries of victory. Although this tweet did not announce an official policy decision and the ban as of now has yet to take effect, the statement left many — especially those in the transgender community — wondering where the POTUS truly stands on the topic of LGBTQ+ rights.

This past week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jared Yates Sexton, to try and find some insight into these issues. Sexton, who is an author, political commentator, and professor at Georgia Southern University, agreed to provide a statement or two about what the current administration might hold for LGBTQ+ rights.  

Q: “I’m trying to get a clear idea of what might be in store for the gay community over the next four years. Trump has flip-flopped over his views of same-sex marriage since his campaign started, and this possible transgender ban seems to threaten the community as well. Do you think it’s possible that the ban will go through, or that President Trump might eventually eradicate the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage?”

A: “Honestly, I don’t think there’s any predicting what Trump will do in terms of LGBTQ rights because there’s no telling what his actual principles are. With the military ban it seemed to be he was acting for political leverage, and so what makes it most frightening is that there’s really no predicting what he might do and who he might do it to.”

Q: “Does this unpredictability apply only to LGBTQ rights, do you think?”

A: “Not necessarily, but I think it’s interesting that LGBTQ rights are one of the areas he campaigned on as being friendly toward and he’s obviously more than willing to jettison them at a moment’s notice for political capital.”

Q: “In your opinion as a political commentator, how can we in the LGBTQ+ community prepare ourselves for the next four years of this POTUS? Any closing ideas that the readers can take with them?”

A: “I think it’s a matter of continuing the fight. This president is very keen on claiming he’s pro-LGBTQ, as is his daughter, but I wouldn’t count on that at all. Assume, again, that he’s willing to sell anyone out if given the chance, so keep up the fight as if it’s already happened.”

As hard to accept as these statements are, I believe no one could have said it better. The current White House administration seems to be anything but predictable, and we in the LGBTQ+ community can’t grow lax in our fight for true equality. All we can do is support each other and stay positive. Our pride is what will keep us moving, and I for one never intend to give up any part of my identity.

Originally posted 2017-08-10 15:43:10.


Also published on Medium.

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Sex Talks For Teens Part 2 of 3

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Trans Youth Need Guidance and Love, Not Ridicule Part 2 of 3

This one is for trans youth and the people who love them. Staying safe while navigating the maze of choices during teen and young adult years requires the basics of self-love and a support system. Both are important. For trans kids who may have far fewer supports, it’s imperative they connect with conscious adults who can lend positive direction.  

Navigating Sexuality Is A Real Process For Trans Kids

I have advocated for trans women for a long time, decades. Because I worked with queer youth many of which identified as trans (m to f) or were just getting used to being gay and out, I saw their hearts. I saw tears and gave hugs to kids who were trying to find their way in a heterosexist world where they didn’t have many safe spaces.Teen rap sessions where “tea” was spilled and real issues dealt with, were part of the weekly schedule. It was and is needed. For many, safety wasn’t found at school. Not in a district where the superintendent told me to my face, that Gay Straight Alliances (GSA’s), would not happen on his watch.

Trans Kids Need Safe Spaces

For many, safety wasn’t found at home either. Kids were put out on the suspicion that they were gay, or when they were caught in sharing a kiss with a boy. Church, you already know. While LGBT churches are welcoming they may not necessarily be on the radar of teens. Many kids attended traditional churches with family in order to keep peace at home and a roof over their heads, while being beaten down emotionally and spiritually from the pulpit.

Can Trans Kids Live?

When they came to the queer youth center they didn’t get judged. Weave in all colors and lengths, nail polish, and femme geared ruled as teens swapped stories, clothes, and Lawd, the shoes! They weren’t told that they were crazy, or deranged. Nor were they told that they were boys who needed to stop acting like girls.

Let’s Deal With Disclosure

As a working queer, I was tasked with guiding youth. I think disclosure matters. The question is, when should a trans girl or woman open up with the fact that she was born a boy? Dating today is confusing in part because people don’t communicate effectively.

Text messages lose context and people live on social media and not all profiles are honest. Hell, not all pictures are honest. The point is if people are having choppy text based convos and exchanges through GIFs, it’s kind of shallow. Netflix and chill isn’t an invite to get to know another person on an intellectual level, it’s an invitation to sex. So if we agree to “hook-up,” another term for sex, the needed conversation of gender and STD’s may not happen.

Positive Role Models Needed

Let’s not get crazy and think that queer kids don’t need advice on dating and choosing suitable partners. Adults don’t even have it right all the time, or even, most of the time. Good role models are definitely needed. People with good character, who understand that mentoring means hands off. Period. Remember, Urban Bush Sista!, keeps it real. There are posers in the community who will take advantage of youth. We’re not having that!

Words of Advice: Be Your Best Self – The Universe Will Handle The Rest

What I want teens to overstand is that good sexual health requires responsibility, and moral responsibility requires honesty. What you do with that information is up to you. I’m not here to tell you when to disclose, just that I think it needs to be done before spit is swapped, or sex is on the agenda.If you need additional resources check out the list from the Gay & And Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD). Remember, it’s also about self-love and valuing who you are.

Image Credit:  Picserve

http://www.picserver.org/images/highway/phrases/dating.jpg

Originally posted 2017-08-08 22:34:25.

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