Is How I Identify Problematic?

Being genderqueer and not having a preference over pronouns seems to be problematic.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. I felt like a member of the club on one hand, and on the other I felt very much on the outside. Identifying as a woman is almost out of respect to the way I was raised and the connection I have with women, in particular Black women. I do an extra finger snap when women are being acknowledged for being extraordinary; I feel as though I’m standing in their womanhood halo.  

At sixteen in a small city in Alabama, I didn’t think I could be anything other than what was assigned to me at birth. I was a woman.

Over the years, I have had many conversation regarding how I identify and why. It started when it took me years to place the label ‘lesbian’ on my sleeve. A badge I acknowledge and use to describe my life and those in the lesbian community, with that being said, I never thought it fit properly.  I partially felt lesbian only identifies cis women loving cis women, it also sounds very white.


The first time someone asked, “What are you?”, I was sixteen and straddling the fence on being out and being in the closet. “What are you?”, ended up being a question I put in a box in the back of the closet because I was busy trying to understand my attraction to women. Basically, I didn't think about it for a while. At sixteen in a small city in Alabama, I didn’t think I could be anything other than what was assigned to me at birth. I was a woman.


It wasn't until I was nineteen, new to Chicago with plenty of time on my hands, when I began to truly question how I identified my gender. Even at the time, I didn’t think gender. I thought I was just trying to find a better word than “stud”, “stem”, or “fem” to describe my fashion sense and my behavior. I felt labels placed too many restriction on how I needed to act, but I wanted to date. In particular, I wanted to date Black women which meant I had to pick a label because Black queer women subscribe to heteronormative roles to the letter.


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