Heaven holds a sense of wonder….











{December 17, 2010}   Stupid labels. And pronouns.

I would like to see more discussion about andro lesbians. There’s an awful lot about butch-femme identity politics, and there’s a good amount on cis/trans identity politics, but I don’t hear people talking about andro politics much.

Why is that?

Is it because there’s a subtle undercurrent of expectation that lesbian relationships either mimic the exaggerated “hetero model” of masculine-feminine dynamic, or be made up of two very hot girly-girls who like to get it on in front of a camera?

My Sweet Pickle is neither butch, nor femme. She’s not a boi. She has no desire to identify as a male. And while she’s content to be a woman (that is the body she was given), she doesn’t much care to throw herself into that identity either.

Sometimes she likes to cut her hair close and spike it. Sometimes she grows it out long. Always, she wears a baseball cap or beanie over it. She’s built like a 12 year old boy – and shops in the husky 12 year old boy’s section of the store. She kinda acts like a 12 year old boy, too. Sometimes.

I read this article, When a Cis-Woman Dates a Trans-Man, which is about how a cis-woman in a relationship with a trans-man is stymied over what to call her sweetheart. He identifies as male, but to call him her “boyfriend” denies the couple their queer identity. To add in the word “trans” as a description is awkward, both structurally and socially.

In an activist community heavily focused on “people-first language” a part of me is inclined to say, “So what? You happen to be queer – you’re in love with each other first. Labels are for jars.”

But labels can be comforting. There are contexts in which it feels right, can be encouraging, to use labels. For example, I am a woman who is in love with another woman, has two children, and my body parts work differently from the average person. Awkward. But if I’m introducing myself in a Deaf Queer setting, for example, I’d want to say, “I’m a Deaf lesbian and a differently-abled mom.”

And that last sentence, reading it, it just feels so empowering. I look at that, and I’m almost in awe of myself – not to sound egotistical or anything. But in a certain setting, that sentence could do amazing things.

So I understand the struggle with labels. And as a cis-woman madly in love with another cis-woman, I know the struggle with partner-defining labels as well. I hate the word partner. Like the author of the article above, I, too, see images of suited individuals shaking hands. But she’s not my girlfriend, either – to me, people over a certain age are not girls & boys anymore, so the terms “girlfriend” and “boyfriend” become obsolete. Lover… gag. Companion leaves a little something out. Sweetheart, quaint and cute, and I can live with it… but it lacks a sense of personal identity.

And then to throw gender-politics into it.

My brother likes to refer to my Sweet Pickle as his “brother-in-law,” or “Uncle” for his kid.

I hate that. She doesn’t identify as male. She’s not trans. It seems disrespectful to all my trans friends out there who work so hard to have their identities taken seriously, and it feels disrespectful to me on her behalf (though she honestly doesn’t care), because that’s not who she is. It seems disrespectful to me because I just came out of a ten-year hetero relationship, and came out as a lesbian, and I feel like it’s my brother’s way of making sense of the whole thing without actually trying to understand it. He’s making me “straight” again.

But she doesn’t care. So why should it bother me?

Because my identity matters, too. OUR identity matters.

She’s not a girl. She’s not a boy. She’s not a man, and she just barely identifies as a woman. (If there was a 12-year-old boy status on the gender chart, she’d probably pick that one)

She’s my Sweet Pickle. She is who she is, nothing more, nothing less.

I’ve come to two conclusions: 1)I hate the gender binary. (Actually, I’d concluded that long ago, it’s just reinforced again) And 2) I want to call her something that isn’t completely devoid of attachment and feeling, and doesn’t have a bunch of other inappropriate-to-us meanings associated with it. And the only place I’ll find that is right here, with the two of us.

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