Note from Stacey: yeah so this was meant to go in the bodies issue of the zine but I’m hella unorganised so I screwed that up. But Zula’s submission is something you should read so here it is anyway.
The first “serious” relationship I ever had happened when I was a sophomore in high school. I was sixteen years old. I didn’t know it at the time, but this would also be my first encounter with an abusive relationship.
My ex-boyfriend had a huge influence on my body image. I’m a tiny person. My arms and legs are really skinny, and my friends love to tease me when I can’t open a bottle or jar. I don’t really care about this, though. It’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about. What little weight I gain all goes to my stomach. When I sit down, it hangs over my pants a little. I spend a lot of time thinking about this. My ex-boyfriend told me he wanted me to start working out and get rid of my little belly. “We could do it together!” he told me. So I went out and bought a pair of $70 running shoes. He said I would need them. I didn’t. Those shoes still sit in my closet. Instead of going out for a morning jog like we had originally planned, he convinced me there were other ways I could lose weight. “Funner” ways. Ways that involved me not needing to leave bed. Catch my drift? He would somehow make everything a way to have sex. But all this talk of working out and losing weight was all for me, he assured me. People would find me more attractive if I did this! HE would think I was hotter! It was all for me, all for me, all for me….
The shaving was all for me, too. Almost every day, I would take a razor and shave my legs, armpits, and vulva. My ex didn’t like feeling stubble during sex. He would stop and tell me he could feel it. I apologized every time. It didn’t matter that this caused me to get razor burn and ingrown hairs. That shaving my armpits made them ache for some reason (I still don’t know why that happened maybe I should look into it). I had to be perfect for him. So I shaved. And I wore push-up bras. And I would wear certain items of clothing if he told me he wanted me to. I couldn’t “overdo” my makeup because he hated that. He even told me how much affection I should show him in public. He told me I shouldn’t get a tattoo on my back because “Think of how that would look in a wedding dress.” The perfect picture of femininity. All for me, all for me, all for me….
I spent five months with my ex-boyfriend. It sounds like a short amount of time, but it was enough to wreck my self-esteem. I thought I wasn’t good enough. That my efforts to be what he wanted me to be fell too short and that it was my fault he dumped me. That because of my imperfect body he left me to find someone who had what I lacked. I cried and I moped. Then, a small light of hope! He wanted to see me again! Naïvely, I thought that maybe if I just tried hard enough he would take me back and everything would be fine. But no. I was just good for sex. I cried again and told myself that would be the last time.
In my junior year of high school, I dropped out and went on an independent study program. By this time, I had fallen into a deep depression, and I had to go on alternative education because of excessive absences and bad grades. Now equipped with a lot of free time and an internet connection, I found myself spending hours online. During this time, I started using Tumblr. On Tumblr I found a large trans* and queer community. I spent so much time reading and learning. Finding more blogs on and off the site. Reading article upon article. And then there it was. One little word that changed my life. Bigender. This was the word that described me perfectly, but I was hesitant to use it at first. I experimented with binding and packing and using makeup to make my eyebrows look thicker. I hid my hair under hats and tried to lower my voice. I still wasn’t happy with myself.
Then I found another word. Femme. And I was ecstatic. I didn’t have to hide my hair and I didn’t have to not wear makeup and I didn’t have to (badly) try to hide my curves with loose clothes and layers. Femme means something different for everybody, but for me it gave me comfort with my trans* identity. And through my trans* identity I found comfort with my body. I don’t have to shave. I don’t have to wear uncomfortable bras that push up breasts I don’t even want. Finding femme and finding bigender gave me back my control. Gave me a way to present myself the way I wanted, instead of the way I expected people to want me to. I felt like I had autonomy again. There’s a sense of security I get when I tell someone about this part of myself. Like I don’t need someone telling me how I should look and behave and hold myself because I don’t need validation through another person’s perception of me.
After finding and accepting my trans* self, I don’t feel like I’m performing a certain kind femininity anymore. I’m comfortable with any amount of makeup, as a boy or a girl. I don’t hate the stretch marks on my hips that I once thought made me unattractive and invalidated my boyness (I like to tell myself they’re guidelines for someone’s fingers because being touched there is awesome). My little belly doesn’t hurt anyone. I cut my hair short because I like the way it looks. I plan on getting top surgery. I want to start working out my arms because okay, maybe not being able to open stuff gets to me a little. How am I going to open jars when I am living alone and I want to make a sandwich? I’m going to get a back tattoo because fuck tattoos being “unladylike”. If I do anything to my body, it won’t be for a current partner or to please a future one. It’s all for me.
Hey everyone! I thought I’d introduce myself real quick. I’m Zula, and I’m a new mod here at FY!TF. Sorry this picture of me isn’t very cheerful, I’m bad at giving genuine smiles for pictures. I identify as bigender, and I prefer singular they as a pronoun. On my personal blog you will find some social justice posts with the occasional fanfemming over My Little Pony and Depeche Mode.
Anyway, I’m here to help with submissions and things, but we’re running low on those! So click here and submit your lovely selves!
We really want to expand the range of fat bodies we cover. So if you are dapper, butch, hard femme, trans, dandy, soft butch, disabled, queer, felt invisible, other, othered, non-normative even beyond your fat identity we wanna see you!
We only have photos to last us until Sunday so please submit!
"Fuck Yeah, Trans Femmes" is looking for another mod!
We’re looking for a trans*, intersectionality-minded mod (preferably POC, as white people tend to dominate tumblr trans* spaces) who wants to help out with boosting publicity, writing image descriptions, and running the site.
If you’re interested, please contact us. And if you want to, please signal-boost!!
[alt text: white, trans/genderqueer femme person sitting infront of the camera, looking into it, and their hand is flat, underneath their chin. They have medium length, straight-ish brown hair, and is wearing red lipstick and dangly brown earrings.]
Hi, my name’s John and I identify as trans/genderqueer, with genders ranging from non-binary to femme. I love dangly earrings, riotgrrl/doom metal/pop punk/post-rock music, left movement building, SF Pride @ Work / HAVOQ’s vision of queer organizing as fabulousity, and visions of liberation. Super stoked this site exists.
[Image: a genderqueer person in combat boots, fishnets, a denim skirt, a brown top, glasses, and a black cap. They are curled up on the floor with their shoulders propped up and one arm curled in towards their chest. They are looking straight ahead and are holding a cellphone.]
I'm genderfluid and sometimes want to present in a femme manner, but I hate the fact that it makes people think I'm cisgender. How can I be a femme without losing my gender/queer identity?
I’m sorry that you’ve been experiencing that. Unfortunately, a lot of us who identify as (non-binary) trans* experiences that a lot. That’s one of the goals of this group: to provide support and visibility to those of us who experience misgendering and cissexism with regards to femme trans* identities.
Your question in itself is a bit complicated. There is no one way to be femme—not even in a way that prevents people’s cissexism—because, really, that’s there issue. Not yours. My advice is to do and be what feels right to you and know that there are people who support you and affirm your identity however you choose to express it on any given day.
I feel this way too, sometimes. But I guess the first thing to remember is that no one has the right to take away your identity or impose their mistaken and bigoted ideas about gender/presentation on you. You can be femme and still be genderqueer/genderfluid/trans*/pretty much anything. But that does fly in the face of the andro-centric [white, skinny, transmisogynistic, generally kyriarchal] model of what a nonbinary person looks like—which means that nonbinary trans* femmes of all stripes are hard pressed for much validation.
My advice is to preserve your identity by defending it from other people’s -isms and ignorance first and foremost. You don’t need to internalize anyone else’s BS about the “most trans*” way of doing things.
And if it helps, both L and I talk about our femme(/ish) identities as being a form of gender-fuck or even reclamation of coercively assigned gender roles.
[Note to fellow mods (and other followers, for that matter): if you have anything else to add to this, please feel free to to do it. Followers, if you wish to express your support to this specifically, feel free to submit an ask and one of the mods can add it to this one or publish a new post. Let’s affirm each other with tons of femme trans* solidarity and love. :)]
This place is great!!! Although admittedly, among seeing the title I thought this was an MAAB-only space, and I didn't want to feel like an intruder. Thanks for welcoming all femme-identified trans people. :)
(I'll definitely be submitting, although I'm fluid in my presentation but generally tend toward being more femme than butch.)
Hi! Sorry about your initial confusion, but I’m glad you’re definitely welcome here. Our About page explains further what we mean concerning the breadth of trans* fremme identities. And we definitely look forward to your submission! :D
Hi folks. Your tumblr is awesome. I've been looking through some of the photos and noticed something that I find a bit curious. In the tags and some of the image descriptions, you qualify the subject of the photo as being "non-binary femme." I think I understand what you mean when you use this qualifier, but forgive me if I'm wrong. I think you mean trans, genderqueer, or otherwise "not cisgendered" femmes. I agree whole-heartedly that the complex and multi-faceted narratives of trans and genderqueer femmes are very underrepresented in femme community and conversations about femme identity. I think this tumblr is really great for making some of those stories and representations visible. I do, however, feel like using the term "non-binary" as a qualifier of trans or genderqueer femme leaves a very interesting space in the silence. If femmes who are not cisgendered are "non-binary" then it would logically follow that femmes who are cisgendered occupy space within a binary identity or gender presentation. I feel like this is a dangerous distinction to make, since often there are arguments and criticisms that femmes (or anyone who utilizes femininity as a means of expression) are simply defaulting to their "natural" place on the gender binary. What comes to follow then, is often an argument or deeply held belief that femmes or feminine presenting people are not inherently queer or radical. Utilizing this descriptor feels a little like a new binary and categorical rating system is being set up to think and talk about identity, creating the conditions where identity policing is acceptable, and mutual solidarity is hard to find. In no way do I believe that there shouldn't be space dedicated to representing gender expressions of femme that exist in trans* and genderqueer communities. But i believe that "femme" itself has room to be a non-binary category, and that the qualifier isn't that necessary.
I think I can clarify a few things for you, Anon:
Firstly, your understanding of the term “nonbinary” is a little off. Nonbinary essentially means “outside the male-female binary,” which includes people who’re genderqueer, agender, bigender, a combination of genders, etc. Nonbinary people generally consider themselves trans*, but you can be trans* and not nonbinary if you are solely male or female.
Since this is a site exclusive to trans* people, the “nonbinary” tag is helpful for the purposes of intersectionality, but a nonbinary label doesn’t apply to every submitter. Otherwise, why would we bother tagging some entries with “nonbinary” and not others? All of our submitters are trans*.
Secondly, we use our tags so that followers can search for femmes of intersecting identities. That’s why you see tags like “POC femme,” “young femme,” etc. Recognizing and valuing our (racial, age, gender, etc.) differences does not impede mutual solidarity, it’s a necessary step to take if we’re to establish solidarity at all. I wouldn’t feel comfortable in a trans*, femme space where my disabilities, age or nonbinary-ness were swept under the rug because refusing to allow me the space I need with other nonbinaries, disabled people, and younger people would be an act of marginalization. Similarly, it isn’t fair for me, as a white person with middle-class upbringing, to refuse POC and people I’m class-privileged over the space they need to recognize their own identities beyond “trans*” and “femme.”
It’s also worth noting that no one is inherently radical by virtue of their identity. Femme is not inherently radical. There are non-radical femmes, both cis and trans*. Pretending otherwise leaves room for a lot of dangerous “well I’m [insert identity here] so I can’t be perpetuating [insert corresponding -ism]!!” which is very destructive.
Femme is also NOT inherently nonbinary. Nonbinary is a gender identity that can be claimed by people who aren’t exclusively male or exclusively female. To say that “femme” itself has room to be a non-binary category” is to say that people who identify as both femme and exclusively male or exclusively female are somehow wrong in their binary-only-identity. That really isn’t fair to them, and it sounds as if you’re trying to co-opt the term “nonbinary” as we use it.
hello! I'm working on a project on femme fashion and I have a quick survey that I'd love if you could post since I'd love to have answers from all femme identified folks! Here's the link to my blog post : http://www.creativexicana.com/2011/06/new-project-femme-fashion-community.html
I'm a cis-Xicana-Femme so I didn't want to put this under "submission" since I'm not a Trans* Femme but would love it if you could spread the word. Thanks!!!! <3
[Image: a genderqueer person with light olive-tonned skin and short brown hair. She is wearing eye-makeup and a purple scarf over her dark blue top. She is looking into the camera and has one hand rested on the side of her head.]
Hi! My names Kaia. Trans-femme genderqueer mahu. Hapa: Filipina and White with Hawaiian and Californian cultural influences. Currently reside in from the depths of Orange County, attending the University of California, Irvine. Pursuing a degree in dance. About 6 months of hormones as of right now. Prefers the pronoun “She” .
I hope to become a movement / performance artist, probably heading to the Bay Area after I graduate. Very committed to trans activism and social justice on a larger scale.
My blog typically deals with exposing feelings of trans embodiment.
hello! thank y'all for this incredible space you've created, and for the magnificent femme expression in all the people here.
question: is it okay to reblog these images, or are they primarily for display on this page? could that be a yes/no question on the submission page? I don't want to use or move someone's image against their wishes.
As per most other trans* tumblrs, reblogging is fine as long as it’s respectful (and as long as you don’t steal the image and re-post it on a different entry). You should be fine :p
(As a note to any current/future contributors: if you do *not* want your photo reblogged, please say so in your submission.)