I identify as a woman because it is an identity that I grew into. Woman is an identity that I chose to take pride in and nurture and heal myself with. It’s both something I had to fight for, and ease into. There is a lot of culture and history associated with being a black woman, and it’s something that I found a lot of community and sense of belonging within during my journey. Woman resonates with me.
However, I also understand that for me, woman is not an all-encompassing label or description of my gender identity.
Over the course of my life, I have come to embrace myself as being more gender-fluid by nature. I have a male energy, female energy. Masculine, feminine, and androgynous energies. I naturally shape-shift depending on how I feel.
I like to envision that there is a blank canvas available, which I gratuitously fill up with my presence.
There have been quite a few times when people casually mistook me for a man, or they genuinely asked whether I’m a boy or girl–and I never really “corrected” them or gave them a clear answer, because I just felt that there was nothing much to say. I quietly enjoyed their compliments on my handsomeness and moved along my way.
They were just picking up on the energy I was giving off that day…and they were not wrong.
I do not even truly have a preferred pronoun-nor do I feel the need to choose or announce one. I just prefer that people see and engage me with a genuine heart, and use whatever feels most natural to them.
In a holistic sense, I would say that I teeter along a spectrum of gender that falls more toward the androgynous and feminine sides. And I’ve grown to embrace that.
There’s a lot of trauma that women collectively experience in this world, and I’ve seen many young people in the LGBTQ community choosing to push away their former identities as women, in favor of other options that have presented themselves.
I am not disregarding people’s authentic experiences or identities…
I am speaking to a general trend. The availability of new pronouns and labels makes it as easy to don a new gender identity as wearing a new hat, and I feel a lot of people have taken advantage of that in an effort to appear “non-normative” or occupy marginalized spaces. Some have found it to be a convenient step away from any negative associations with womanhood. In many circles, it is now passé to identify as a woman or lesbian, particularly if you were born female.
Everybody wants to be a they/them.
I think this new freedom can be beautiful and liberating–but I also know that it hasn’t erased the fact that many of us are still hurting from what it has meant for many of us to be female, and a girl or woman in this society. Departing from that identity without working through the trauma associated with it–doesn’t provide space for recognition and healing.
I do not feel the need to depart from my identity as a woman in order to feel whole or true to myself. I do feel that my identity, in all of my variation and difference, can expand the definition of what it means to be a woman.
I know that I could easily identify as non-binary, as many others have done, but that label (and using they/them pronouns) feels foreign to me. Actually, most LGBT labels, including the term “queer” feel somewhat foreign.
Aside from the fact that they’re not culturally or historically relevant to me and people who look like me, I just don’t feel that I’ve developed a deeply personal relationship with those words. They never quite sunk in-I never quite made myself at home.
If there were any phrase that could adequately describe my relationship with gender, it would be Two Spirit. I really like the essence of this word. But as a Native American term with its own cultural context and meaning, “two-spirit” doesn’t feel like it truly belongs to me. So, I don’t openly identify that way, either.
I am simply–a woman.
What I don’t very much like, is how some people, upon hearing that I identify as just a woman–like to expand upon it and add the word “cis-gender”.
It has often been used as a patronizing way of naming, placing, and correcting me. This especially happens when people want to be quick to categorize me in an “us” against “them” manner in the name of transgender politics. Of course, such behavior is not about me-so it is nothing personal.
But, I do not like or feel resonance with the word “cis-gender”–especially not to describe myself. It is generally not a part of my vocabulary, unless someone explicitly asks me to refer to them in that way.
And, I have always wondered if such people who choose to call me “cis-gender” for their own purposes have considered that, in forcing an identity upon women who have not chosen this term for themselves, and shaming them into accepting it, they are doing to others what they do not want done unto them?
To me, most of these terms just feel like they were created by white academics in an Ivory Tower, and they slowly trickled down to the rest of us.
Despite how stuffy and inaccessible much of this language is, there’s still a lot of policing in LGBT communities to use them to describe one’s self and others. English is already a colonial language. In my lineage, we are encouraged to have English names and learn to wield the language so that we can have a seat at the table.
But sexuality is my intimate space. It’s not necessary for me to internally force this new language upon myself and then advertise my political correctness to the world, to keep up with the joneses and make my presence more easily digestible.
I did not wake up and decide to write this piece. For the past few years, I have been a quiet observer, finding great comfort and freedom in my relative silence on these topics. This writing came from a private discussion I was having with myself about gender inclusivity on Haus of Isis. That, I’m sure-will be another discussion for another day.
Ultimately, I decided that, the most important thing is not that I try to appease or accommodate everyone else–but that I first make my platform feel more authentic and welcoming to me in all of my expression and variance.
Then, outpoured this.
My heart and hands moved in spite of my mind’s burgeoning resistance, to bring these words in front of your eyes. I was simply called here–to use my vessel for its intended purpose.
I heeded the call.
Over the years, I have grown content with just being. I have not found the English language to be sufficient in terms of describing something about me that is so intimate and beautiful and fluid.
I am still growing and discovering who I am everyday, and I have required some level of privacy from the noise of society in order to flourish.
My gender and sexuality is something I radiate through my choice to be who I am and cultivate my spiritual and sexual energy. I’d rather it be what it is, and speak for itself.
I’d rather be who I be, and let that speak for itself.