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.
There is this unspoken rule book on what it takes to be a stud or masculine presenting. It is as rigid and limiting as the rules cis-men abide by and I find it sad. What is worse is the hate I receive from the community in which I should feel comfortable expressing myself among. It saddens me more because we are “Queer!”, we should be free to define ourselves how we see fit. Now, I don’t take it personal because I understand the attack wasn’t on me it was on themselves because it must suck for such a beautiful woman be attracted to a masculine presenting sissy. I mean how dare women be attracted to my Prince vibes.
I’m sure even reading this you can see my hand gracefully rest upon my chest as I let out multiple giggles with my head tilted back like to true king queen I am.
I once tried so hard to fit in when in spaces with studs/masculine presenting women. I would try to outperform my masculinity against theirs. It was a boring battle. I didn’t last long because if you play Rihanna’s “Rude Boy”, I start singing lyrics about getting it up and if it’s big enough. I decided when I was a teen my masculinity and femininity are able to live together.
When I think the battle is over because there are so many examples of acceptance for gender non-conforming, non-binary, and expressive freedom, I turn and run into a brick wall. The ones who didn’t get the memo say foolish shit and I’m ready to pounce. The fight is still on and I’m hammering and breaking down walls that trap people in their ignorance. I fight not only for my own freedom but for others.
When will studs and masculine presenting folks be free to express themselves without judgement? Better yet when will studs and masculine presenting folks stop judging the ones who already break the mold?
Written by: Erma Breann