Also.Also.Also: A Link Roundup with Gifs and Lesbians and At Least One Controversial Essay, Plus More Stuff

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I bought more swimsuits in the last week than I have in the last five years combined. Y’all, these high-waisted bottoms are a whole new world! They cover up my ill-advised tattoo decision from 1999 AND make me look like a glamorous motherfucker. Good job, whoever decided this was the direction we’d be going in re: bikinis!

Queer as in F*ck You

+ Queer and Undocumented: A Powerful Force in the Dreamer Movement.

+ My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy.

+ The LGBT Trump Fallacy.

+ UK’s Most Senior Police Officer, Cressida Dick, Is In a Same-Sex Relationship.

+ The New “Equality Project” Wants To Make The LGBTI Community Stronger.

+ There are just a few days left to help launch Aisha Sabatini Sloan‘s new essay collection, “Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit,”, which, by the way, was chosen by Maggie Nelson as the winner of 1913’s Open Prose Book Contest!

1913 is responsible for publishing some of the most dynamic voices in print. Your contribution will enable Aisha to hire Lithub “Oscar nominated” publicist, Kima Jones, a pioneer at promoting writers of color.


Welcome to the Hellmouth


Doll Parts

+ My Mother the Punk Rocker Poly Styrene.

+ New Study Exposes Barriers That Block Girls of Color From Opportunity.

+ NYPD Is Reportedly Investigating Death of Trailblazing New York Judge As ‘Suspicious’.

+ Three Trans Women Who Support Republicans. Huh.


Keep Up

+ This New Tool Will Make It Easier to Spot Hidden Conflicts of Interest in Scientific Stories.

+ How Gentrification is Killing US Cities and Black Lives.

+ Mystery Memory Loss among Illicit-Drug Users Spurs Health Action.


Saw This, Thought of You

+ The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black.


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Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and she thinks you're fucking rad. She's 36, has two kids, two dogs, one Megan, some personal essays and a lot of emails in her inbox. More at LaneiaJones.com.

Laneia has written 649 articles for us.

52 Comments

  1. 21

    I like the tomboy article a lot. It’s really important that we own the fact that girlhood/womanhood doesn’t have to be just one thing. I am so excited that the notion of trans identities has hit the mainstream so that trans people are met with more understanding and inclusion when they come out – seriously, it’s great! But dressing or playing or behaving in a way that’s not gender-normative doesn’t have to mean that someone isn’t a woman. It’s just as important that we broaden the box of what girlhood and womanhood can mean as it is for us to let more people come in and stand with us, yeah?

      • 10

        That article is bonkers. It goes from “my daughter says she’s a boy” to “I read about princess culture and that made me think she’s just a girl with low self-esteem” to “not only do I still think of my kid as a girl, now I force her to wear skirts as well.” What???

        • 10

          This woman is unbelievable. She’s obsessed with her child’s gender and gender performance.

          “Enna has made me realize how conservative and old-fashioned some of my ideas about girlhood are. Like most parents, especially parents of girls, I have conflicting desires for my child. I want her to be exceptional, and yet I want her to fit in. I don’t want her to be judged or defined by her looks, but I want her to be adorable. I don’t want her to need male approval, but I want her to have it. It’s embarrassing how relieved I was to hear that one of the boys in her school wanted to marry her, even as I was so unhappy that, at ages 3 and 4, they’re already discussing this subject.”

          AND

          “There’s really only one remaining objection to Enna’s proclivity: we have the loveliest assortment of hand-me-down dresses, ones that currently Enna refuses to wear but that I don’t want to waste. For this, though, I have clear-cut solutions. We wear dresses on Thursdays, and any time she wants to wear her tie, she has to wear a skirt, too. Which she does, as long as she can wear jeans underneath and, as always, her Spiderman shoes.”

          • 12

            If my mother had made me wear a dress on Thursdays I would’ve lit something on fire. And I liked dresses! But WTF? Why would you ever force your child to wear less practical clothing because you want her to look cute, or because you don’t want to ‘waste’ dresses?

          • 24

            I am so angry now. I hope her child grows up to be a dragon who sticks up for that child voice inside them that always knew what was right and they wear exactly whatever the fuck they want for the rest of their life.

    • 3

      I wish this article had been written with more care so it could be discussed more seriously. It is an interesting conversation, this assumption in very select circles that any afab girl or woman who expresses on the masc side is trans, even as children across the world are denied acknowledgement of their actual transness. What is the right way to proactively affirm transness while still keeping womanhood a broad and open category anyone can lay claim to? This author seems like the wrong person to kick off this conversation, but it’s an interesting one.

  2. 5

    Did I read an article where a trans woman uses the same exact rhetoric transphobic people use when trying to pass bathroom bills? Like you do realize many Republicans rather have you use the guys bathroom because we trans people are seen as immoral and wrong. Ugh she sounds self-hating.

  3. 11

    Eek.

    Of course tomboys can ‘just’ be tomboys. The concept of the tomboy is not new to our society – it’s decades old at least, and fairly well-accepted throughout many of our subcultures. I don’t think that we’re at the point where we need an article ‘in defense of the tomboy.’

    I wonder about the fact that this woman finds it important enough to defend her daughter’s girlhood that she would write a public essay about it. It sends a very clear message, one in which there’s not much room for future ambiguity for her child.

    What M says above is true – a person (particularly a child) who dresses or plays in non-gender normative ways may not be any more or less likely to be trans, of course! But I wonder at the mother’s need to draw this line in the sand. Surely the pendulum hasn’t swung so far over that her child’s girlhood actually needs defending…

    • 8

      I understand and agree with what you’re saying. I think the genre of parent blogging turns up a lot of very decisively written personal pieces that may or may not hold up as the children grow older. Of course, it’s better when these pieces speak in a way that’s meant to be thought-provoking and inquisitive rather than tying bows around a story that’s not finished yet. I think the mom behind this piece alludes slightly to the possibility that her child might turn out to be trans later on, but the headline and the tone are maybe unfairly certain about her child’s future. Mirah is right as well that the mother’s other article is more troublesome and raises other questions about whether she’s really listening to everything her child is saying. However, if I may, I want to consider her argument on its own outside of these more troublesome elements.

      Trans still isn’t the assumption most people jump to when they see a girl wearing shorts and playing in the dirt. We have a long way to go before every parent understands and supports trans children in that way, whereas we’ve understood the notion of tomboys for a while. As queer women, though, I think we know that girls and women dressing and acting in a way that isn’t “girly” is usually permissible up to a certain age but then becomes less so. We see the erasure of gender-nonconforming women even in queer communities! Mey’s fashion breakdown for the A-Camp dance included only models wearing makeup, and every bare leg shown, no matter whether it was clad in a skirt, dress or shorts, was shaved. Even though the risks facing trans people, and especially trans kids, are incredible severe and worthy of our immediate advocacy, I think we can fight for trans folks and for cis-but-gender-nonconforming people all at the same time.

      • 8

        Hi M! I agree that we can fight on behalf of both trans people and cis people who don’t conform to or perform gender normativity. I just don’t think “hey everyone, by the by, my child is not trans, here are multiple articles in defense of that belief” is the way to do that.

        • 6

          I think there are some pretty concerning things in this particular mom’s earlier piece, but I do agree with her that the idea of a tomboy (in the US at least) only goes so far,

          When I was a kid in the 90s, I wore my suit to school every day and wanted whatever haircut my brother had. I was constantly muddy and begging for McDonald’s boy toys. Despite the fact that I hated that my mom would correct people who thought I was a boy, I have always identified as female.

          For the most part, my family, teachers, and peers accepted my gender identity and expression, though there was a lot of speculation over whether I was trans or gay from the adults in my life, and a lot of discussion about which gender soccer team I could play on. And then when I hit my last year of elementary school, everyone decided it was time for me to scoot on out of that tomboy phase. And I did, because I was 12 and afraid of doing anything that others would consider strange.

          I am glad people talk and think about these things now, but it was incredibly confusing for me as a child to have adults discuss my gender when I was pretty clear on how I felt.

          My sense is that there is an idea that little girls can be tomboys, but that they grow out of it when they hit puberty. And a girl who likes trucks might be a tomboy, but a girl who wears a suit is probably trans.

          Granted, I’m in my 20s now so my perspective is a bit outdated. I hope that kid gets to be whoever she is, now and forever.

          • 7

            “I am glad people talk and think about these things now, but it was incredibly confusing for me as a child to have adults discuss my gender when I was pretty clear on how I felt.”

            Totally! And this mom is not only discussing her child’s gender, but bringing the discussion to a national stage.

            Being the parent of a child who may or may not have Feelings about gender doesn’t make you uniquely qualified to write for the Times. BEING that child yourself might…

  4. 18

    oof, i have so many Feelings™ about that nyt piece. first, i feel like it is so, so weird for a parent to write about their kid’s identity on a platform as huge and permanent as nyt. i have reservations in general about parents speaking for/over their children and the ways mommy-blogging can turn kids into props or accessories, and being at the center of a controversial viral op-ed about your gender is a lot of weight for a kid to have hanging over them for the rest of their life. what your parents say about you when you’re young has huge staying power — my relatives are still stuck on ideas about who i am based on what my mom told them i liked and disliked over a decade ago, and that’s mostly inconsequential shit like music tastes that i can brush off. i can’t imagine people holding your mom’s interpretation of gender politics over your head for the rest of your natural life. jeez.
    i don’t doubt that what she writes about is a real experience — i don’t get the feeling that she’s making this up for clicks or to “prove a point” — but i do doubt whether this is a widespread phenomenon in elementary education that urgently needs to be addressed before it sprials out of control or that it warrants a national op-ed. i don’t buy that the “outside world” is so attuned to transness that they’re chomping at the bit to treat kids as trans despite their protestations. the wide world is just not that trans-positive yet.
    where i get hung up, though, is that i DO feel that kind of gender pressure that she describes, not in the “outside” world, but in queer spaces. again, i’m not sure that it’s a widespread phenomenon. it may be just a personal anecdote. but i do find that when i’m dressed femme and say my pronouns are she/her, everyone uses she/her. when i’m dressed more butch/masc and say my pronouns are she/her, people are inclined to use they/them. even though i’m strongly attached to female identity and being called by the gender-neutral pronoun is profoundly uncomfortable for me. i don’t think this is some kind of malicious denial of my right to womanhood when i’m masc of center as much as it’s people maybe trying to be sensitive to trans/nb people who aren’t yet comfortable enough to come out or insist on they/them? like wanting to let them feel seen even if they aren’t ready to insist on visibility themselves? which is a noble impulse but can also lead you astray in attempts to help people who don’t want/didn’t ask/don’t need help. but it still feels weird that queer spaces will call me something other than she/her when i’m not strictly gender-conforming in my presentation and i bristle at having to insist repeatedly that i am, in fact, a she/her person despite the wrangler jeans and the hairy legs. i don’t know. navigating gender is such a hot mess, y’all.

    • 12

      I agree that the phenomenon of referring to someone as “they” even after someone has explained that she identifies as “she” is weird and def happens in queer spaces. I have one friend who refers to everyone all of the time as “they,” which is actually just plain misgendering, friend!

      • 16

        i totally agree with this, Emily: “where i get hung up, though, is that i DO feel that kind of gender pressure that she describes, not in the “outside” world, but in queer spaces.”

        that’s what the nytimes article made me think of, if we moved it into a grown-up queer space. outside of queer spaces, basically we’re all assumed to be boys or girls, usually based entirely on gender presentation, and it’s almost always fucked up and weird. and non-binary people are completely erased and rarely seen as legitimate.

        but within queer spaces, moc women are, more and more and more and more, assumed to be non-binary, often to the degree that they feel genuine pressure to identify that way, and uncomfortable that it’s apparently not okay to identify as female and present in a masculine way. which is us putting each other into the same boxes we want society to stop putting us in! I see it on A-Camp evaluations, even — butch and masculine-of-center staff members who identify as women and use “she” pronouns are consistently referred to with “they” pronouns by campers. i’ve always dated moc women, and whenever we’re in queer spaces together, they’re asked for their pronouns. i never am.

        so there is some type of overcorrection that does happen in certain spaces, and probably a lot of people who reacted favorably to the nytimes piece, which reading other comments here i can see clearly has some issues!, by projecting their own experiences onto it. i know that i did, at first, as a former tomboy who struggled with a lot of internalized misogyny and was often mistaken for a boy, and often shamed for not being good at girlhood. i was teased for wearing boys clothes and liking “boy things.” even though i’m not a masculine-of-center adult, a lot of those feelings linger w/r/t how i feel around other women who are super-feminine (INADEQUATE). i just thought as i was reading it, “well, if this had happened to me i would’ve felt even worse about my failure to be a proper girl than i already did!” but also like i was very privileged in other ways and am, like that my parents let me express myself however i wanted, it was just the rest of the world that had an opinion. of course there are other issues at stake… and that parenting.com piece puts this whole debate in uhhh… a very different light.

        • 6

          Everything you’ve written here resonates with me. Your A-Camp example reminds me of a workshop I went to where there were about 20 people there who I had never met, all of differing pronouns and genders, and it became very clear after the initial go-around that I would not remember everyone’s pronouns, just as I am bad at remembering names in a group setting. I wonder if the A-Campers were in a similar position and decided to use ‘they’ instead of just asking.

          I use she/her and people they/them me relatively often. It’s clear that some do it to be neutral, because they don’t want to make an assumption, while others assume I use ‘they’ in a non-binary way because they see it as my only option. As a MOC looking person I definitely encounter pressure to officially identify as not a woman and it feels reductive.

          • 4

            oh i mean the same a-campers use “she” for feminine-presenting staff, so i’m pretty sure it’s a conscious choice… and i’ve literally never seen anyone make the same mistake with femme staff members.

          • 4

            Yeah, I guess that’s not really the same. I was definitely unsure about everyone’s pronouns, because there were quite a few femmes using ‘they’.

            ‘They’ is totally projected onto butch or more MOC women while being denied to femmes.

        • 8

          ” i’ve always dated moc women, and whenever we’re in queer spaces together, they’re asked for their pronouns. i never am.”

          Yeah, and the flipside of that is that AFAB femme (or at least not very obviously butch) people who are some flavour non-binary AREN’T RECOGNISED as non-binary. I’m femme of center, though I dress mostly like anybody else rather than have a particularly queer aesthetic, and I have pretty much given up on being recognised as non-binary because even OTHER NON-BINARY PEOPLE don’t see me or remember me as such. And yet others parse me as male because I don’t look “feminine” enough (especially when you take my cultural heritage into account – apparently short hair on a Desi woman makes you a guy, somehow).

          • 4

            Thanks for this! Me too! Short hair, even a buzzcut, makes somewhat FOC me look femme (this is true for some celebrities too, like Sinead O’Conner and Demi Moore in the 80s/90s), and yet people consistently think I’m a dude when I have short hair. I think it’s because brown women “don’t” or “can’t” have short hair, so you’re a dude by default. (The exception is a subset of brown dudes who want to police my womanhood as if it were their property.)

          • 3

            THAT 100x.
            I’m she/her but I’m content to let the world assume what it will. It doesn’t throw off my groove when someone gets my pronouns wrong.
            But the irony isn’t lost on me that this is an assignment of they. That this is in response to how I look, rather than people trying to work on their conversation skills. That people who actually use this identity are at the same time being dismissed because of their appearance.

        • 2

          I want to print Riese’s comment on flyers and hand them out

          Yes, I am a woman and I really like it, even though I mess with patriarchal stereotypical notions of what a woman dresses, acts, feels, is like!
          You know, FEMINISM

        • 5

          yep. in queer spaces, especially young queer spaces like college campuses, i’m feeling this weird, often implicit but sometimes explicit anti-butch and anti-lesbian sentiment — things like assigning nonbinary identities to moc women who aren’t nonbinary; compulsory use of they for people who don’t use they; claims that women aren’t oppressed as a class; using sexual fluidity to insist not that some people *can* experience sexuality as fluid but that sexuality *IS* fluid, full stop, and therefore if you’re not willing to have sex with anyone of any gender or sexuality then you’re narrow-minded and bigoted, etc.; rhetoric that lesbianism is old-fashioned and “outdated”; insisting that everyone be comfortable with calling themselves queer; refusing to say “gay” or “lesbian” and reducing everyone to non-specified “queer.”
          are other people experiencing this or am i just touchy? is this a result of people reading queer theory without really understanding it? is it a result of people getting all of their understanding of gender and sexuality from random bloggers/literal children on tumblr? is this just youthful “more radical than thou/screw the earlier generation” posturing? is this just the particular group of queers i come into contact with? what is this?

          • 2

            emily, i see this everywhere and it drives me nuts! it concerns me, deeply. w/r/t the future of our community and w/r/t the role internalized misogyny plays in all of these phenomenons…

    • 8

      THANK YOU for this, because it’s literally exactly how I feel but I’ve had such a hard time articulating it. I always feel like queer spaces do weirdly try to impose a nonbinary/trans identity on me but like…no??? I’m fairly butch (i.e. kinda masculine in my style, but sometimes I wear very femmey makeup idk) and it’s like, really tiring to have to assert that I use she/her. I understand the impulse and I appreciate the attempts at inclusivity for trans/nb folks to whom this actually applies, but like, please stop assuming I’m a “they” pronouns kinda girl just because I wear button-down shirts, thanks.

    • 0

      Adding to this long but very insightful thread that touches on a lot of the things I’ve been thinking about:
      I use she/her pronouns. I often dress masculine-of-center, soft butch, or something around there. If I had to describe my style without the use of labels that often confuse me, I’d say: I wear mens shoes and mens T-shirts/sweaters, but I also wear neutral womens shirts, and in the summer I add womens tanks to my mens shirts rotation. Earrings vs. no earrings and regular bra vs. sports bra depend on the day, and I wish it were easier to find slim pants that aren’t skinny jeans. My business wear is also moc, but I tend to dress femme at parties because I like patterned tights!

      I don’t mind getting sir’d by others, but it’s annoying when they realize that maybe I’m not a sir and they get flustered and ask me, “Or m’am? which one is it?”
      Oddly, although I don’t mind getting sir’d, I do mind getting m’am’d (lol, apostrophes). When people call me miss or m’am to get my attention, it kind of annoys me. I’ve considered whether this could be attributed to internalized misogyny or to the gender pressure from queer spaces that you mention. I really don’t know, but it was good to read everyone’s perspectives in this thread.

  5. 9

    When considered alongside her earlier piece, the “My daughter is a tomboy” op-ed just reads like another version of The Agenda where it’s the misguided individuals who are leading your child astray and away from their “true” identity which you, their parent, have unparalleled insight into. She is denying her child’s identity and wishes by projecting them onto others, when it would seem they are in fact trying to free the child from the mother’s domineering grasp.

    Even before reading her earlier piece, it struck me as odd that she would have looked into hormone therapy if her child was really truly a girl who had never self-identified as a boy. If your child is confident in their identity of a girl and it’s everyone else who’s the problem, you’d be foolish to even consider hormone blockers. Now I see that the situation is different from how she describes it in the op-ed which I can now only describe as underhanded and deliberately misleading.

  6. 7

    The NYT piece made me have lots of conflicted feelings™.

    She isn’t wrong that repeatedly asking a girl if she wouldn’t prefer to be considered a a boy is probably sending the message that girls shouldn’t look and act like her.

    On the other hand, my experience of frequent childhood misgendering is that there’s no need to ask insistent questions for that impression to come across. And I didn’t experience that nearly as often as this child seems to, since I went to a small school where everyone knew everyone.

    It’s a good thing that adults are open enough to gender variance that they ask questions. The writer may feel that they shouldn’t insist, because that sends the wrong idea, but if a teacher asked me if I wanted to be called a boy I would have been mortified, ashamed, and I would have said no… but if I had been allowed to think about that option and been asked again, I might have had a different answer.

    And I seriously doubt my mother could tell you that. Because her knowing about my six year old “penis fell off in the womb” fantasies, or the gender dysphoric reasons I hid my period from her for over a year at age 12, I would have been equally mortified.

    Adults shouldn’t seem to have a vested interest in the answer to gender questions, but not every child can stand up for themselves and not every mother knows their child’s innermost feelings. Asking is overall a good thing.

  7. 4

    I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT THE PRONOUNS THING that I cannot articulate because, while my feelings towards gender as a whole are generally positive, my feelings about gender as it relates to me are sort of like the sound one makes when they’re trying not to vomit in public

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