IDAHOT

Today, May 17th, IDAHOT, Chelsea Manning is to be released from prison.

On a personal level I am so so happy for her and I hope she is safe, loved and supported and has a chance to rest, to heal, to overcome. I hope the shit media leave her alone and I hope the first image of her that gets blasted in every newspaper is one that she is happy about.

On a community level, I keep in mind that this is the work of a dedicated group of activists, who kept on pushing, who didn’t give up and didn’t let go, who did the work of pressing for her freedom even after most people had moved on to other things.

And I keep in my heart all the people who didn’t get there, who never got liberty, safety, healing. All whose cases were ‘too complicated’ for most activist groups to stand behind them. All who were left behind because our movements are not consistant and principled enough to leave no one behind and there is a tendency to focus on a few famous cases.

This IDAHOT I think of every prisoner that is not free yet.

What Is Beauty?

When I was younger, a lot of people would approach me awkwardly. “Wow, you’d be so pretty if you stopped wearing all those boy’s clothes!” or “Wow, you’d be so pretty if you’d let me give you a makeover!” Sometimes, these people had somewhat good intentions, others were waiting for the moment to join the crowd that bullied me. I experienced all the fake smiles and snickers behind my back. We all know how this goes. Your friends and your family tell you you’re beautiful. They tell you, “oh, honey, don’t listen to them.” You’ve grown accustomed to thinking “well, they are my family/friends, of course they say this to me.” Well, reality check sweetcheeks, you are indeed beautiful. After many years of soul searching and trying to figure out my self worth, sexuality, and gender identity, I’ve finally embraced my own version of beauty.

I’ve mostly presented masculine during my lifetime. However, it comes to a shock to people when I discuss my dating history with men. I’m pansexual/omnisexual, which means I experience attraction despite someone’s biological sex or gender identity. So with that being said, with being masculine presenting, and dating women, the word dyke was heard a lot. I was told to stop lying about my sexuality, to stop looking at men, to stop dating men, because it was a mere cover-up for my lesbianism. This, however, was before discovering my gender identity. I felt stupid not being able to explain how being boyish didn’t correlate whether or not I could be attracted to men or be deserving of any man taking a second look at me. I was made to believe I needed to prove my femininity, which made it even less believable for some.

I love the feel of sweatpants and tank tops, but I also find myself in lust with the “girlish” things in life; make-up, cuddling, teddy bears, cute throw pillows on the bed. Even in same-sex relationships, I have found myself wanting to be the little spoon or be the one to take 30 minutes to look pretty. The only response I would receive is “oh, that’s kind of weird.” I researched for years what this could’ve been called. At first, I was almost willing to give people what they wanted, and acknowledge myself as a boy trapped in a girl’s boy, but that didn’t feel right. I dressed in drag a few times and it felt great. It felt great when I was dolled up too though. I realized with time and research that I was genderfluid but was unfortunately quiet about it for a very long time.

More specifically, the type of genderfluidity I experience is called being fluidflux. This means my gender and the intensity of my gender changes. I loved days where I was feminine, I loved days where I was masculine, I loved days where I was a little in between, or days I didn’t really feel like either. It felt like a balancing scale that my brain would tip in whichever direction it felt like, but I learned to enjoy the ride, though tough at times. Midday switches can suck!

My version of beauty is different than what most are used to. So let me take a second to say this: fuck your standards of beauty. What is beauty to you? Is beauty painting your face everyday with endless amounts of make-up? Is it laying down at just the right angle when you take a selfie so your cleavage shows? Is it pouting your lips and poking out your hips when an attractive fellow walks by? Is it filtering your speech so you don’t offend anyone with your somehow masculine tone and language? Here’s an idea: maybe this is only considered beauty to you because this is what society has conditioned you to believe is beauty. As cliche as it sounds, we all have our own brand of beauty.

So you might ask… what do I believe is beauty? Beauty is being confident in who you are no matter how you present or what kind of clothes you wear. When I present female, I’m beautiful. When I present male, I’m beautiful (and hella handsome, might I add!). When I present female with a touch of masculinity, I’m beautiful. When I present male with a touch of femininity, I’m beautiful. When I present a mix of both female and male, I’m beautiful. When I walk out of the house in plain attire, not really sure where I am on the scale that day, leaving the world to decide what the hell I am, I’m still beautiful.

Beauty is leggings, beauty is jeans, beauty is sweatpants, beauty is skirts, beauty is basketball shorts. Beauty is a bun, a fohawk, a ponytail, hair straightened, hair curly, hair spiky. Beauty is make-up, beauty is natural. Beauty is baggy clothes, beauty is skin tight. Beauty sees no specific sexual orientation. Beauty sees no specific gender. Beauty is whatever you decide. Beauty is whatever you make it. Beauty, my dear, is your invention, and do with that beauty as you will. You are beautiful as you are, don’t be told otherwise.