My whole life, I thought of myself as butch. I grew up in a strictly religious family, and I didn't have a model for a woman who liked women. Those didn't exist—so what was I? I must be a boy. That's how I saw myself when I was a kid, and I kept seeing myself that way into adulthood.

Then a few years ago I dated an artist who did a piece exploring the clitoris, and I saw how little we understand the parts of our bodies that offer pleasure. Did you know the clitoris can be as long as a penis—it's just that most of its structure is inside our bodies? I didn't. We think of it as this tiny bundle of nerves, but it's not. It's big and complex. I realized there were things about me I didn't even know that I didn't know. Maybe I was also more complex than I'd thought. Maybe I wasn't butch—whatever that meant—at all. Maybe I was someone who looked feminine and dressed masculine. Maybe I shouldn't build an entire identity around a fondness for gorgeously tailored suits masquerading as power.

I'd been living by these rigidly drawn gender boundaries, believing that there were Men and there were Women and I had to be one or the other, and since I didn't feel like the latter, I must be the former. It hadn't occurred to me that I could be both, somewhere in between. I'd also been thinking rigidly about sex—thinking that if I enjoyed this, I must be that. We all get stuck in that kind of reasoning: I like being dominated, so I must not be a feminist. Or, I like missionary, so I must be boring. Or, I don't want to have sex, so I must be frigid. None of that is true. What we like is not who we are. The ways we enjoy sex, the things we like and want, are as individual as fingerprints.

Now I see myself simply as a queer woman who likes what she likes. No more, no less. Nothing to envy, nothing to hide.

I'd wish some version of that for everyone.


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