My hair is shorter than my wife’s hair

So I finally cut my hair short. I have wanted to do this for a long time. I never did the big “I’m a lesbian, I’m going to shave my head like Ani Difranco.” But I have always wanted to cut it all off and I’ve always felt like I somehow missed a queer right of passage by not chopping of all my hair.

Now it is short. It is a pixie cut and still feminine. But the first time it occurred to me what we now look like (2 dykes with short hair with a baby), it made me very happy. Which doesn’t mean long hair makes you less of a dyke, but somehow for me, it felt like it did.

What I am looking for is visibility. Especially now that I am a parent. However, the haircut alone does not a visible queer make.

So I turn to you, dear reader, fellow queer, fashinistas.

How do I become a more visible queer mom?

-Rachel

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Masculine and Feminine in a two mom house

I want to talk about gender expression, clothing, and raising a girl in a two mom household. This will be a topic I revisit often and have been thinking about a lot lately.

I am constantly reminded that the way we do or do not identify our own gender is often different from how we are perceived. My wife and I are often read as Butch/Femme when we are out in the world. However, neither of us identify with either of those terms (though I did just come across the expression low-femme (as opposed to high-femme) and I think I might start using it to describe myself).

So, despite how we identify, we are seen as masculine and feminine out in the world, based on how we dress. And our daughter might see us that way. It brings up questions for me about how we present those different gender presentations to her, how we make room for her own gender exploration, and how we value both masculine and feminine, without falling into two traps.

One trap: she is a girl and many feminine/girly/pink/princess things will be pushed on her. She will learn lessons out in the world about what it means to be a girl, many of which are very limiting. However, I want to make sure that we don’t devalue feminine things. Pretty dresses are nice sometimes and tutus are so much fun. So I want to make sure she can explore and play with those things without feeling like she has to.

The other trap is the dichotomy of gender. I don’t want her to think you have to be one or another, and I sometimes worry that even though she has two moms, she will somehow see us as fitting into these two roles, masculine and feminine. Which is enforced even more by the fact that her more feminine looking mom is a stay at home mom who likes to bake. I want her to know she can be anything, and that gender presentation is something to test out, play with, and have fun with.

Future posts:

Hair, gender presentation, and gender play

Butch/Femme: the good, the bad, and the ugly

-Rachel

For more thoughts on butch/femme and amazing queer beautifulness, watch this Ivan Coyote video. It makes me cry.

Is that a boy or a girl?

I have recently had some encounters that made me think more about gender, babies, and pronouns.

I was sitting on the bus a few days ago and the person next to me was interacting with the baby. She used he/him/his for awhile and then asked me if the baby was a boy or a girl. I said that she was a girl and this person proceeded to tell me that at first she thought that the baby looked like a boy but now she could clearly see that the baby looked like a girl. I was shocked. When I was telling someone about it later I came up with the best response: “How can you tell she looks like a girl? Is her vagina showing?”

Because to me, at this age, really when someone asks, they are asking about genitalia. Because seriously, the gender socialization has only begun, there aren’t different hormones like during puberty, so what difference does it make? And she isn’t old enough yet to make any of her own decisions about her gender identity and presentation.

But I am also seeing that people ask because it dictates how they will respond to the baby. Many times it is the first question people ask and then follow up with, “oh she is so cute,” or “what a beautiful baby.” These things are all true, of course, but what would there response be if I said she was a boy? How handsome? How strong? What else?

This came up with my “moms who lunch the other day” as we constantly, I think without thinking about it, comment on how cute our babies are. One of the moms was commenting on how cute my baby was and then corrected herself by pointing out that she is also smart and clever. True, she is already smart, clever, brilliant, and perfect. I think the earlier we get in the habit of using language that reinforces positive personality characteristics, as opposed to looks, the better. See this awesome article for more on that.

I think having a baby truly embodies the way in which people use gender and gender norms to relate to one another. It is as if folks don’t know how to relate to her, or me, until they figure her out. It is also very interesting when folks call her a boy and then I use she/her/hers and they are so apologetic. As if getting it wrong is the worst thing in the world and I will be horribly offended. Why is that?

This is the world I constantly walk around in with my baby. It gets exhausting and frustrating, not to mention depressing when I think about her future. So it was a breath of fresh air to go to my volunteer meeting with her the other night. At the beginning of each meeting we say our names and what pronouns we use. I introduced myself and my pronouns. And at the end my friend said the baby’s name and that “the baby would let us know when the baby decides on their pronouns.”

That is the world I want her to live in.

-Rachel

Ruminations on the color Pink

I have been thinking a lot about the color pink.

When I was a little girl I don’t believe I wore that much of it (parents, correct me if I’m wrong.) My favorite tutu was either blue or purple, and I seemed to wear a fair amount of yellow and blue (based on photos.) Even as a teenager in my various phases, including my babydoll phase, I favored blue. And I think my goth phases speaks for itself. I think I was always turned off by pink as too “girly” or too closely related to princesses.

However, near the end of college, as I discovered my queer self, and as a femme-ish presenting queer person, I began to reclaim pink. The best and boldest being this jacket that I bought with a friend at the outlet malls soon after moving to Boston.

I mean, what is gayer than that? I know that pink is historically representative of queerness but I don’t know my gay history well enough to know why.

Anyway, I grew to love pink and now I wear it a lot. When I say pink I do not mean pastel pink, I mean that bright almost fuchsia pink. In fact, I love pink so much and believe in the power of its gayness that we got married in it:

(Note the pink tie)…

So we love pink in our household.

Enter a baby girl.

What do we do now?!?!

Anytime she is wearing anything other than pink or purple, people think she is a boy. Which doesn’t matter. But it is that limiting that makes pink such a turn off now. What is boyish about yellow? or green and blue for that matter? And the bigger question, if we had a boy, would we put him in pink the way we put her in green? I don’t want to put her in pink because people think she should wear pink. That pink is what makes her cute or beautiful. I want to put her in pink because it is awesome and fabulous and gay. But the outside world doesn’t know our intent when we put her in pink. So it is a constant exercise in intentionality when choosing what to put her in every morning.

We have found a few choice items, though, such as this pink stripped outfit:

Once she is old enough to decide that she wants (or doesn’t want) to wear pink, then we will let her decide. But until then we have to figure out that delicate balance of pink or no pink, and just the right kind of pink….

Follow up blog posts yet to be written: Masculine and feminine in a two mom household, thoughts on pretty things, and “is that a boy or a girl?”

-Rachel