Built Like a Brick House
Unfortunately, queer ladies find nothing more annoying than someone else being the highest of femmes in the room.
As the bar was closing after a recent birthday bender, a fifty-year-old transgender man whom I had never met before offered to take me next door to Dunkin Donuts — his treat. He bought me a kruller, and demanded the scrawny teen behind the counter produce a birthday candle to insert into it. “You deserve the best,” he explained.
You are probably thinking, “what a lovely surprise.” But while it was lovely, it wasn’t a surprise. At least, not for me.
Throughout my queer adult life, I’ve regularly had watered-down well whiskey and bottles of Miller High Life sent to me by transmasculine fellows whom I don’t know. Once, a well-dressed dandy offered me a bus swipe when I was low on change, while on another besotted occasion an OKCupid date paid my part of the cab fare home, even though I threw up out the window a little.
And whenever I ask what I’ve done to deserve such treatment, the donors of these gifts have always said the same thing: my seductive femininity and perky good looks have made their day. In the words of one particularly savant ex-boyfriend, “Girl, your tits are as hard as a fifteen-year-old’s.”
While I’m no Tiffany Amber-Theisson, I’m tall, slim, attractive and, as I’m often told, “one smoking hot piece of ass.” But there are downsides to being pretty — the main one being that other femmes hate me for no other reason than my subversively “conventional” attractiveness.
If you are a femme reading this, I’d hazard that you have already formed your own opinion about me — and it won’t be one of femme solidarity. For while many doors have been opened for me (by chivalrous “old school” butches) as a result of my good looks, just as many have been metaphorically slammed in my NARS-painted face — and usually by those of roughly my own gender.
I am no oppressor and I’m no flirt, but over the years I have been dropped by countless ladykin friends who felt threatened if I was merely in the presence of their masculine-of-center partners. If said husbutches dared to fetch me a cocktail, for instance, a chill would descend on the room.
And it’s not just jealous primary partners who have frozen me out of their lives — femme community organizers seldom remember to invite me to perform at their open mic affairs, and femmes rarely, if ever, contribute to my Kickstarter campaigns.
And, most poignantly of all, only once has any sex worker friend of mine offered to let me be an upsell third in a session with one of her regular clients. Only once.
You would think that we femmes would applaud each other for taking pride in the little things that make up (and make-up) our genders. I work on mine: I insist on cruelty-free lash extensions, I tease my hi-contrast beehive to untold heights, and I shave my legs once a month, even if I don’t feel like it. I only rarely succumb to prescription amphetamines, so I don’t end up with Fergie teeth. Unfortunately, queer ladies find nothing more annoying than someone else being the highest of femmes in the room.
Take last week — while I was at a sex party and about to light my date on fire, I saw a femme who used to live in my building. I waved, and she blatantly snubbed me. This is someone whose housebois have cleaned my toilet on countless occasions, and whom I have invited to countless vegan gluten,-nut-and-nightshade-free potlucks.
I approached a mutual ex and discreetly inquired if I had made a faux-pas. It seems the only crime I have committed is leaving the house without a gimp mask over my head. As our ex pointed out, she is shorter, heavier, older, and less radical than me. She is adamant, he tells me, that something could happen between her current fluid-bonded paramour and me, “were the right circumstances in place.” This, despite the fact that I am currently happily serially monogamized, and don’t date switches.
This isn’t the first time such paranoia has gripped the femmes around me. Once, during my late-mid twenties, I had a roommate with whom I got along famously. We often chatted over a cup of womyn’s moon cycle tea late at night about our frustration with the local dating scene and her personal evolution into a transsensual identity. She confided in me that she was frustrated with the promiscuity of her on-again, off-again lover, whom she described as quite the rascal.
I often dress down in 4-inch heels and a wholesome, albeit areola-baring, minidress.
One day, I walked into the kitchen, and was surprised to find a muscular, steel-eyed genderqueer there, in his binder, nibbling on my cookies — my roommate’s beau. Though I couldn’t remember his name, we immediately recognized each other, and I was flooded with the sensory recollection of sucking his dick in front of like fifteen people only a few weeks before. It seems this wiley broheim had taken the opportunity to get some strange with yours truly while my roommate was out of town at her grandmother’s funeral — though, to be fair, on that particular week, they were “on a break.”
Later, after he confessed our exhibitionistic tryst to her, she began to grow quite cold with me, though he kept coming around. We had undeniable chemistry, and when she inevitably caught us fucking again, she called me unspeakable names, unfriended me on Facebook, and declared her intent to move out, giving me only two weeks’ notice. The nerve!
My therapist says that even feminists often measure each other by their looks and their ability to attract partners. She says that perhaps what other people perceive as my narcissism may be merely a positive outlook on the actualization of my identity.
“People think that just because you may not face some of the same oppressions that they do, that you have a perfect life. That is not true. They may also act hostile toward you — as therapists, we call this ‘relational aggression’; in the African-American ball community, it is called ‘shade.”
She has prescribed that I take more time for self-care.
I certainly find that it is true that the fiercest “shade” I experience comes from femmes in the size-positive circles, perhaps because these lovely ladies feel the sting of butch scarcity the most sharply. Another ex of mine, for instance, a trans man who had dated a few full-figured femmes during his time amongst the lesbians, told me to shrug off the hurtful comments. “When it comes right down to it,” he said, “trans guys need validation from beautiful women. And a pretty straight-looking girl will always win over a fat dyke, every time.” I was appalled at his fatphobia and told him to check his privilege, and then we resumed our cokehead-Sarah-Lawrence-undergrad-heiress and ibanker-American-Psycho-date-rapist role play scenario.
Still, I dread the Sapphic snarkery. “Here she comes. She looks like Ke$ha fucked a donkey and threw up,” was one comment I recently overheard. As a result, I find queer dance parties and performance art pop-ups fraught, and if I can’t wriggle out of them, then I often dress down in 4-inch heels and a wholesome, albeit areola-baring, minidress.
Now that I am in my early early thirties, I welcome the decrease in my queer sexual currency. Perhaps, as I settle into the gravitas of my senior years, and the sun damage and smoker’s lines start to catch up with me, my femme systerhood will start to accept me not for the firmness of my skin, but the content of my character.
Though, maybe that’s not a good thing.