‘under a genderqueering microscope’

The more comfortable I get with my girlhood, after seriously striving to embody masculinity for almost a decade, the less able I am to describe it — girlhood — with any kind of precision: Well, a girl’s a female-bodied person, unless she’s male-bodied, and she likes dresses and pink unless she hates them and prefers skinned knees and tree climbing or none of the above or all. Well, it’s clear, isn’t it, that the girl’s the softer one, right? Except I’ve stroked some pretty soft boys — and met girls rocked hard like stone and the girls are the ones who cry right except when they don’t and the boys do and I’m done with layering on description and definition: femininity likes frills and adornment and paint and frivolity up to and until and unless and and it digs its unpainted nails into thick rocky soil or, yes, knows perfectly well how to turn a phrase between a girl’s or a boi’s legs and sings its songs with abandon until and unless it remains silent.

There’s no sure thing about femininity and masculinity for me anymore — not about either except in the know-it-when-i-see-it sorts of ways and even that is all up for interpretation and assumption, those kinds of grabs. The things that say boys are strong and girls get carried have never seen me (or you, or him, or hir) carry a box of books wearing four-inch heels and who cares if its girl or not except

I do. I thicken into the femininity my stepfather wrought for me, the tough bitch smart broad high femme ball buster prima donna that he was always just the right man for: it’s that last part, of course, that leaves me nauseous, that wrote me into boyhood, into all the masculinity I’d always already carried, all my life — they just called it tomboy but I took it out of my back pocket, fluffed it out, slicked it on and called that leather jacket and jeans and boots and shorn shorn head strong and safe

girlhood was the stuff that smeared his palms and yes, greased his chin, and I wanted to get myself far away from the staining thing that I had been. I drove a straight sharp line down between butch and femme, masculine and feminine, girl and boy and always I meant to bend myself toward the unlayerable side, unbreakable side, unbroad side, ungirl side. ‘Cause boy is always and only not girl, right? We can say that at least for sure,


Not in the world I come from, the dancers I live within, who question every frilly tail-marker under a genderqueering microscope. Some boys will be boys and girls will be women but other girls stripe their butts with Marilyn Monroe panties and dance on the stage with barbells in each hand and some boys like to bend at the waist when they sob or lay open to the receiving they were never supposed to want and all the lists of what’s feminine and what’s masculine just ends up being make believe or stereotype for me now, jogging my memory around what the folks outside the Bay Area Bubble say is good for gooses and ganders. It’s longing for play I frill into, glitter that doesn’t stain the eye and a kind of strong-fisted handshake that makes a grown butch do a double take.

We make our own lists every day anyway, stripped around society’s damage, and when we come back home now and again, the bois will be girls will be femmes will be right

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