As a lesbian, I am a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, but there are micro-aggressions that I face as a lesbian woman that are different than those against each “letter” in the LGBTQIA+ community. I have lived as an out lesbian woman for the past four years, and previously identified as bisexual, as well as pansexual in my teenage years.
How can you know you are a lesbian for sure if you identified as those sexual orientations previously? How can you have identified as pansexual and bisexual in the past if you identify as lesbian now? The answer to both of these questions is that
sexuality is fluid, in that it is a spectrum and each individual falls on the spectrum of who they are attracted to. Who you are attracted to can change because people change; you are constantly growing. However, when you do find a label to identify with and that you find pride in, it is important to express that to the world. Continue reading “Learn Your L, G, B’s”→
When I was in 6th grade, I cut my hair short for the first time in years. I had been discussing the idea of donating it with my mom, and it was finally long enough. After weeks of asking her to cut it, she took me to a hole-in-the-wall salon that offered the cheapest haircuts. I was so excited and nervous that I was shaking. The stylist began to trim my hair into a very blunt A-line bob. I didn’t ask for that part, but I figured I wouldn’t say anything. I told myself to be excited, especially since Mom looked excited, and Dad said it was cute. The next morning, I tried to get ready for school with a positive attitude, but I could not tame my hair. One side was curly, and one side was straight. One side flipped out and the other side flipped in. I didn’t have anything but a butterfly barrette to keep it flat against my head, but that failed about 15 minutes into the day. The next few months consisted of tear-filled mornings as I could not style my hair the way I wanted to. Perhaps the worst of it all was that there was not one other girl in school with short hair. There was not a single part of me that cared my hair had gone to someone who needed it far more than I did. I wanted it back.
My hair eventually grew out, and I kept it as long as possible for the remainder of high school. Even the idea of haircuts made me nervous. I fried my hair to a crisp with a straightener every morning just to emphasize the length. I could live with the split ends as long as my hair was flat against my head and the boys thought I looked pretty.
The next time I cut my hair was this last summer. It was unintentional, and a bit of a funny story. My best friend and I decided to cut each other’s hair, and she snipped a bit more off than I was expecting. In a “why-the-hell-not” moment, I had my mom snip off the remainder, and I was left with a pixie cut. Now I’m battling with the idea of keeping it short, or growing it out, but I’ve realized that every time I consider growing it out it’s to make up for the femininity I’ve convinced myself I lack.
This brings me to the question: Does your hair length define femininity? Society and media have bought into the idea of gender roles and have taught us that, yes, the longer and shinier your hair, the more of a woman you are considered to be. There are so many articles that teach women how to “look feminine” in short hair, and we rarely see female celebrities sporting short hair cuts. When we do see them shaving their hair off or cutting it short, the first headlines to come out consist of the words “mental” and/or “breakdown.” Take Britney Spears, or Miley Cyrus for example. When people and the media refer to 2007 Britney, or Miley’s Bangerz phase, they’re typically referring to periods of time when their choices weren’t considered admirable. Both of these women had short hair during these periods.
We’re even conditioned to see longer hair as desirable from young ages. Just think: What do all Disney princesses have in common? They have long, shiny, easy-to-blow-in-the-wind, hair. Even our Barbie dolls, and American-Girl dolls have long hair that we can brush and braid. Through this type of exposure we, as females, are indirectly, and sometimes directly, told not to cut our hair.
Many women, including myself for a while, make the decision not to cut their hair because of stereotypical gender and sexuality roles. They don’t want to be mistaken for a boy, or (insert dramatic gasp here) a lesbian. There are a number of things wrong with this thought process, the first being the association between negativity and lesbians or boys. Kat Lazo states in her article, “3 Bullsh*t Reasons Why Women Are Taught To Not Cut Our Hair Short (And Why You Can Do It Anyway)” that, “Being a lesbian is only thought of as negative in our society because it challenges hegemonic masculinity. The idea that a woman can be happy with another woman is threatening to male dominance and power. So why take it as an insult?” She also states very eloquently, “Gender is a social construct. And it’s complicated. Besides, it’s my choice to express my gender in whichever way I choose.”
Even now I still worry that my short hair is unrepresentative of my womanhood. I often find myself trying to exaggerate my femininity through other materials, like large earrings, makeup, and trendy fashion, which is all fine and dandy. However, something I’ve learned is that it’s incredibly liberating to break society’s construct for what defines my beauty as a woman. It has led me to reconsider many of the stereotypes I associated with femininity, and what it really boils down to is that it is your hair and can do whatever you please with it. You will be just as beautiful of a woman with or without it.
When it comes to the bodily autonomy of someone with a female reproductive system, there are certain hoops they have to go through in order to obtain certain medical procedures, such as sterilization. There are various reasons as to why a person would want to undergo the varying kinds such as a hysterectomy or tubal ligation, like not wanting children, being a transgender man, cancer and/or to escape a painful uterine condition. Regardless of why people want to have these procedures, it seems the journey is profoundly long. People under 35 do not typically have a hysterectomy, and while there is no strict minimum age for people to be in order to have the procedure, depending on the insurance and the opinion of medical professionals, people under 35 are not usually accepted. For example, people who utilize Medicaid and seek sterilization for non-medical reasons will not be covered. Since it is federally funded, people who do have serious medical conditions are inclined to wait 30 days between signing the consent form and having the procedure. While private insurance is more willing to help cover the cost of hysterectomies, I talked with a couple of people who said their private insurance will not help cover it despite immense suffering. Even for having private insurance, my dear friend Anai Bell, 23, insurance provider will not help cover the cost of a hysterectomy and despite have undergone alternate procedures, she said. “I’ve been fighting to get one due to my endo and adeno and I can’t until I have at least 3 children.”
My old friend Zade Coronado, 27, was rejected by a surgeon who said she was not comfortable performing the surgery because even though he is transgender he could still want children of his own later. Zade switched providers, went through a series of counseling, signed a waiver stating he does not want children, and then was approved for a hysterectomy. He said, “This surgery was one of the most important surgeries… I was at higher risk for ovarian cancer because of the hormone treatments I am on.” He even mentioned how the surgeon and staff of St. Luke’s took very good care of him and were all around professional of the whole situation. Hearing of Zade’s experience as a transman was very interesting because I think it reflects a progressive world of doctors accepting dysphoria. On the other hand, it makes me question the lack of opportunity for young women to go about doing something they also feel is the answer to their discomfort. Of course, it is a good idea to thoroughly think about the risks when it comes to any procedure, for there are always side effects no matter the severity, but I also believe it’s important to respect someone’s choice to do whatever they want with their body. If someone is physically suffering for years and keeps going through the pain of trying to have a child, then why make them go through that because of that small chance they may have a child later? I asked Anai if she thought this reflected an internal bias and she said, “Yes and no. Goes back to really understating the circumstances of having a hysterectomy. Many people think it’s due to the ability to have children, but it goes more in-depth like how it affects your body and your mental well being.” I think the backlash emanates from a patriarchal stand point as well as a lack of understanding the mental and physical pain people go through at the hands of their uterus.
Hysterectomies are considered a last resort for all people considering or seeking one because of how invasive these procedures are, as well as the potential mental or physical side effects that could develop afterwards. Because of the potential physical and mental risks of undergoing sterilization, doctors try to encourage patients to seek other avenues that may not be as invasive, especially if someone is under 35. People who want a hysterectomy or their tubes tied are denied for these risks, but I think it’s deeper than wanting patients to be safe. The main reason people with or without serious medical issues are denied appears to be because of the notion of regret that might come later, for that person may want children in the future. My dear friend Jean Kel, 24, explained how some of her female family members are sterile, but have become pregnant and end up miscarrying and she believes she is the same way. She said, “I miscarried twice in my life, both times at 2 months in. The second time caused me to have my first ever seizure from losing so much blood. It was so traumatizing and hormonally I was a mess.” Jean is not alone in her experience of excruciating mental and physical pain of trying to go through a pregnancy, miscarrying, and then having her doctors still deny her sterilization. The collective of stories make me think of how much weight is put on people to have children of their own. It’s as if people and doctors do not want to accept that people, let alone women, are confident in their decisions to not want to conceive.
“I don’t want to conceive, I’d rather adopt. My periods are painful and heavy, and I don’t understand why I should have to go through this when I’m not trying to be pregnant. They always say, “you’re so young, what if you change your mind?” That’s okay but I don’t think I will. I know I won’t, actually. And I hate that I can’t just request it. I don’t understand why the government and medical industry has say over me and my tubes!”
Jean has not been diagnosed due to her financial situation, but hearing her experience alone is enough for me to believe something is wrong and she knows she wants/needs medical attention.
The National Women’s Health Network believes all other options should be exhausted before someone undergoes a hysterectomy, which is understandable, but how long must we make people suffer because of what could or could not happen? Even for all the backlash people hear and may continue to go through for their choice to undergo a hysterectomy, what ultimately matters is doctors listen to their patients’ concerns, doing the best they can without bias, and that the person undergoing the procedure is happy. Everyone’s relationship to their uterus is different and Allie Niemiec of HuffPost was glad to go through a hysterectomy. She wrote a piece on her mental and physical strain before she made it to the surgery table and she shared some powerful words that may help others who are struggling with what may feel like loss, “I want everyone to know I had a hysterectomy, and I am still just as much of a woman as I was before.”
Cosplay is one of my greatest passions and encompasses so many games, shows, books, animes, and more. I am a cosplayer and one complication I have encountered over my years of con going is that, often times, I relate to or like the design more of the male characters than the females. I tend to genderbend the male characters due to my body type, but another option exists for more daring or more comfortable cosplayers: crossplay.
Crossplay is loosely defined as someone cosplaying as a character of a different gender, like a woman cosplaying Deku from My Hero Academia or a man cosplaying Sailor Moon. Seeing as many people do choose to crossplay, it’s about time some positivity rained down upon this unique form of expression! I created a survey about crossplay and asked questions to three different amazing cosplay communities using Facebook (Anime Oasis, Sakuracon, and Kumoricon). Of the 73 responses, 53 people explained that they have crossplayed, 6 people said they plan to or have thought about it, 4 people identify as non-binary, and the rest have not and do not currently plan to crossplay.
Sometimes situations happen and you feel like they are so out of touch with reality, that they aren’t really happening to you. I dated the most toxic person I have ever met in my life, and I am still wondering how I let him treat me the way that he did, with no repercussions. I endured a level of power and psychological manipulation that is almost unreal to even think about.
Music is something most of us can really connect with and bond over. Sharing our feelings and experiences through lyrics and sounds is an art form people have been actively taking part in for centuries, but women in the spotlight as producers are not heard of as often as male producers. There is a gender gap in the tech side of the music industry, which reflects how women make up only 5-7% of audio engineers and producers. Beyond the tech, the music industry are very low in comparison to their male counterparts. According to a study done by the researchers from USC Annenberg, women make up 21.7% of artists, 12.3% of songwriters, and only 2.1% of producers, which makes for a ratio of 47 men to 1 woman producing music. This interesting study also discovered how from 2013-2019, only 10.4% of Grammy nominees were female, while 89.6% were male. They brought s of a male dominated space through the experience of 75 females in songwriting and producing positions. 43% said their skills were discounted and 28% said they were dismissed. 39% said they were stereotyped and sexualized, which further instills this notion that women are only seen as one thing, something to look at vs someone to be listened to, let alone handle and distribute the logistics of making music.
I recently watched a show that really spoke to me. The show is titled, ‘In a Man’s world’ and it’s shown on Bravo. The premise behind the show is to expose how people react differently to men and women in similar situations. Le’dor, the focus of the episode, put on prosthetics and professional makeup to undergo a full body makeover to look like a man. She was completely unrecognizable as a man, she named her male alter ego “Roy” which I’ll be referring to later on in the article.
Le’dor wanted to pursue a career in politics. Her family dynamic shifted while she was campaigning for the position she wanted, she said that her house fell apart because ‘mom’ wasn’t there to make everything perfect. Her biggest opponent was a woman whose campaign centered around the fact that her children were already grown and out of the house, therefore she would have more time to dedicate to her community compared to Le’dor who still has two young children at home. She lost that election to the woman who no longer had children living in her home. This experience led her to explore the idea of mom bias. The mom bias, otherwise known as the maternal wall bias, is a form of discrimination that working mothers endure.