My Dearest Brookland,
It’s Womxn’s History Month, and as you know, within recent years, the very concept of the celebration felt trite, causing me to wrinkle my nose in annoyance. In my experience, those who post on social media and have store sales in this month’s honor are folks who say women and really mean, “Women who look like me.” The same women who wear pink pussy hats, spell the word “woman” with a “womb,” and only think about QTPOC (queer and trans people of color) communities when it’s time to apply for grant money. Yeah, those women.
I’m intentional about removing the “e.” Given, there are varied opinions of gender-inclusive language that is built off of terms within the binary, such as womxn or Latinx. I personally appreciate the term, as it encompasses myriad identities. For me, womxn encapsulates cis women, regardless of gender expression. It includes trans women, non-binary femmes, and non-binary transmasc folks who are comfortable disclosing their AFAB (assigned female at birth) identities.
I push back against this idea that womanhood is tied to one’s uterus, vagina, period, ability to conceive a child, or virginity. If we have a daughter, in no way will she “be a woman” because she’s started to menstruate. She will be a woman when she is 18, and an adult that identifies as such. Period.
I push back against this idea that womanhood is tied to one’s uterus, vagina, period, ability to conceive a child, or virginity.
Working in sexuality and gender inclusive anti-violence spaces have made me more appreciative of the many ways an individual can show up in this world, despite the varied factors attempting to push us back into predetermined boxes.
You, too, have made me appreciate the ways in which we are allowed to show up as our full, authentic selves, regardless of the opposition.
I think back to our first professional meeting, when I was told that “Brooke” was on their way over. Admittedly, I expected a petite white woman with long blonde hair and a floral skirt to round the corner. Instead, I was met with a broad-shouldered stud in a button-down and dress shoes, and was instantly reduced to the equivalent of a heart eye emoji.
Back then, you let folks use she/her pronouns even though we both knew that wasn’t your preference. You’d floated the concept of a trans identity, and I waited patiently for you to be fully comfortable with coming out to me, and you did. I know I had nothing to do with it, but I was very proud of you for leaning into who you were always supposed to be—someone who rejects convention and is 100-percent assured in who they are, regardless of how it makes anyone else feel. You agree to let people be who they are, and refuse to get bent out of shape when folks slip on utilizing they/them pronouns. But it’s fine—that’s what I’m here for. I’ll always back you up.
In your brutal but always spot-on honesty, you are vocal about the many facets that may seem contradictory to some, but make up who you are. Your love of Black women. Your belief in a higher power. Your openness to all spiritualities. Your commitment to the community. Your adherence to telling the entire truth. Your belief in the importance of education and hard work. Your wearing of your giant heart on your sleeve.
I have always been deemed too loud, too smart for my own good, too big, too much. You don’t let anyone else’s opinion determine how tall you stand—shown through that exceptional tall energy you have.
You have been open about your strong kinship to the Black lesbian community, and how that in no way interferes with your security in your masculinity. Without dismissing the questions or struggles that anyone may have, it speaks to your strength and your confidence—two of the things that immediately drew me to you. There has been plenty stacked against you, and you have come out on the other side, each and every time.
While we do not share a gender identity or expression, your complete lack of fear in being who you are has emboldened me to do the same. As Black folks, especially Black AFAB folks, there is an expectation of how we are meant to show up in this world. I have always been deemed too loud, too smart for my own good, too big, too much. You don’t let anyone else’s opinion determine how tall you stand—shown through that exceptional tall energy you have.
This Womxn’s History Month is for all of the folks that are often left out of this month’s acknowledgements because they are trans, masculine, non-native English speakers, fat, differently-abled, houseless—or whatever unjustified reason. This month is for you, in all of your Southern, cat-loving, broad-shouldered glory.