My Femme Identity

If feminism is the radical idea that women are people, then femme is the radical idea that femininity is not weak.

From my perspective as a trans woman, my identity has been policed by society since birth. Femininity in any person is seen in wider society as submissive and a way to remove agency. Those assigned male at birth who show any feminine behaviour are targets for the patriarchy in similar ways to women in general; saying you want to reject a masculine body is almost unthinkable.

As a child I was already trying to reject this. They told me pink was "for girls" and so for many years pink was my "favourite" colour. They eventually beat that out of me, but I tried to resist as best I could through my teenage years. For my school ball, I refused to wear a boring masculine black suit and instead sewed my own jacket in vibrant colours with the help of my long suffering mother.

Finally coming out as trans and lesbian a year ago has finally allowed me to fully embrace my femme identity. But how do I define that identity?

To me, femme is reclaiming femininity from its subservient role in society. It's the stiletto heel standing triumphantly on the back of defeated misogyny. It's using makeup and my face as a canvas for my moods and whims, not as a way to appeal to anyone other than myself. When a straight guy tells me my lipstick is too "gaudy" I laugh in his face and wear it more often. It's wearing heels even if you're "tall enough" because it makes the street harassers the intimidated and not the intimidators. It's saying it's OK to be sexy for yourself and not just to match society's beauty standards.

Medical gatekeepers have often used femininity as a weapon against my more butch trans sisters. I turn that weapon back on them. Women don't wear pants? I wear floral print jeans to my appointments. Women don't ride motorbikes? My floral jeans are accompanied with a bright red woman's leather motorcycle jacket and my helmet under my arm.

Femme can be hard or soft, fierce or serene and is different for all people but it is never weak.