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Studs and Their Fragile Masculinity

Ten years ago, when I came out labeling yourself was a monumental moment in the coming out process. Placing yourself in a category helped others decide how to interact with you. It's like heteronormative gender roles but for lesbians. Over the years those around me have labeled me everything from stud to femme and all those labels in between. Due to the freeing manner in which I navigate my life, labels tend to fall away. The confusion others have about how I present is often comical but can be extremely harming. I’m too femme to be a stud and the way I dress doesn’t fit femme terms. “What are you?” they ask. I reject stem and no label and often answer questions about how I identify as simply replying “I’m Erma”. That usually works because as you get to know me or see me, you learn I don’t fit any mold. As a masculine presenting person who breaks the rules I often hear the most ridiculous comments and often these negative comments come from studs or masculine presenting women or people.

Recently a masculine presenting woman told my girlfriend she needed a “hood nigga.” referring to herself. The undertone of this comment comes across as if I’m not deserving of my girlfriend because I’m not masculine enough. Now I laughed because it seems the freedom to express my femininity is intimidating. Honestly I feel bad for those who have to attempt to belittle someone else’s expression in order to shoot their shot. I can only imagine how trapped a person feels who is holding on to dear life for their masculinity that they must be strategic about how they dance in clubs, how they look at their nails, how much they use their hands when they talk, if they cross their legs, etc. Not to mention which emotions they are allowed to express. I take it for granted that since I’m able to be free that so are others but every now and then I learn, there are still people who are afraid to live outside the box. Sadly they will hate you for living outside of it also.

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