Non-Fiction

Queer4Queer

Photo of Sage, a white non-binary person with short red hair, smiling slightly and wearing a blue baseball cap, jean jacket, and necklace with a quartz crystal. There is a bi pride flag hanging on the wall behind them.

I am Queer4Queer.

I’m a queer person. I identify as queer. If you want to get technical about it, I’m bisexual. I am attracted to people of all genders.

At this point in my life, I am prioritizing sexual and romantic connections with women and non-binary people.

Though I am attracted to them, I have complicated feelings about dating men. There have been periods in my life where I’ve stopped dating men entirely in order to explore my queerness, prioritize relationships with non-men, and not feel like such a “bad” queer for consorting with them (though I recognize this last one comes from internalized biphobia).

I often go back and forth on whether or not I should keep dating men. Do I actually want to? Am I really attracted to them? I’m pretty sure that I am, but something as simple as going on a dating app causes me to question my sexuality. As I swipe through prospective male matches, I wonder, am I even attracted to men? I frequently look at their photos with disinterest, jokingly thinking to myself, all of these men are just so . . . men. I don’t think that’s what I mean though. I think what I mean is: all of these men are just so straight.

I think that might be the issue. Most of the time, I’m not attracted to your typical cishet dude. I don’t often find myself drawn to straight women either. I’m a queer person. I resonate with queerness. I’m attracted to queer energy.

What I’ve been coming to realize over the past few years is that I have no interest in pursuing sexual or romantic connections with people who aren’t a part of the LGBTQ2S+ community. I’m attracted to people of all genders, yes, but the majority of the people I find myself attracted to are some flavour of queer—whether they be lesbians, enbies, bi dudes, etcetera. I’m Queer4Queer. That’s it. That’s my sexual orientation.

It’s not that I’m not attracted to men at all, it’s that the vast majority of cishet guys just don’t do it for me.

I also just want to be with other queer people, other people who carry queer energy and experiences. In general, I’ve had a better time dating queer folks than I have dating straight cis guys. I won’t list all of the reasons why in this piece, but suffice it to say that queer dating has felt more comfortable, intimate, and safe for me.

Is this it then? Has the ever-questioning bisexual finally figured out their sexuality? Probably not, but I feel like I’m closer to understanding it now than I’ve ever been.


Note: I’m using “queer” in this piece as an umbrella term for members of the LGBTQ2S+ community. I recognize that not everyone vibes with or uses this word, and that’s totally fine. I wouldn’t refer to a specific member of the community as queer unless they identified that way. However, I believe in all of the reclamation work that’s gone into it and see it as an acceptable umbrella. It’s also a useful shorthand to use when referring to the community rather than awkwardly writing out LGBTQ2S+ each time.

Poetry

I’m on Testosterone, You’re in a Corset

Close-up photo of pink flowers and green leaves on branches of a tree.

Content note: this piece discusses transphobia.


I’m on testosterone.
You’re in a corset.
You’re more visible than me,
So you’re treated differently
At this event, within this scene.
It’s like people don’t quite know
What to do with you.
They think they know what to do with me,
But they call me a girl,
Indicating they really don’t.

Is it a warm welcome
If they do not see me?
Is it acceptance
If it comes with erasure?
Is it friendly
If they keep saying she?

They show me how they treat trans people
With how they treat you.
It’s subtle, but it’s there.
They show me how they treat trans people
With how they treat me.
It’s subtle, but I’m here.

Non-Fiction

Gender Expression, Revisited

Torso clad in a blue shirt with a pink arrow pattern, pink front pocket, necklace, and black shorts.

Content note: this piece contains discussion of misogyny and transphobia.


I attended a queer zine fair in Tio’tia:ke/Montreal last weekend. There were so many people in attendance expressing gender in defiance of the binary, with beards and glitter and leg hair and lingerie and jewelry and shaved heads and colourful outfits. It was really affirming. Seeing so many gender variant people made me want to vary my gender expression more. I’ve been getting boxed in by the binary again, this time on the other side. I recently started “passing” as male and so have been leaning into that more, but I realized that I don’t want to move through the world looking like a straight, cis man. I’m uncomfortable with that. Sure, the targets that come with being read as female, as queer, as trans, and as gender non-conforming may be gone, but walking around looking like an average straight white guy isn’t for me—that isn’t who I am and it’s not how I want to take up space in the world.

My friend, after reading my first zine, suggested that my gender may be like a bent spoon. I have wanted to be read as male because I’ve been unbending the spoon. In order to “straighten” (no pun intended) the spoon out, I’ve needed to bend it in the other direction. I’ve needed to be misgendered as a man in order to compensate for being misgendered as a woman for so long, but even now “he” pronouns are starting to feel uncomfortable. They don’t upset me the way “she” pronouns do, but they also don’t fit perfectly. “They” fits best. It always has, ever since I first learned it was a viable option.

Seeing the rich array of gender nonconformity at the zine fair made me ask what my ideal expression of gender looks like. The answer is complicated. There is a part of me that loves presenting masculinely and being read as male, but even then I still like things that are colourful and cute, outside of what’s typically deemed masculine. I like blue-and-pink t-shirts, flower patterns, and quartz-stone necklaces. I like adding a touch of non-normative masculinity to what I wear, even when I want to be read as male.

Torso clad in a short black lace dress that goes in at the waist.

I also like dresses. I bought a black lace dress from Value Village the other week and it’s absolutely adorable. I haven’t worn it out anywhere, though. I feel nervous. The people who know and are used to the more masc version of me might not “get” it. I’m worried that some may assume my wearing a dress means I’m “not really trans” or that I’ve “de-transitioned”. I’m worried that people will use it as another reason to intentionally misgender me. It’s tough. I feel like I’ve given up the ability to wear dresses, which wasn’t the point of my transition at all—I wanted more options for expression, not less. It’s easier if I wear a dress as a “costume,” like at a themed party or drag event. That feels easier to justify, not that I should have to justify it, but somehow, I feel like I do.

I worked at a summer camp after I’d just come out in 2015 where I presented almost exclusively masculinely. Near the end of the season, I threw on a dress because I wanted to and missed wearing dresses. The people I’d worked with all summer were mostly polite about it, but it did draw a lot of attention. There were many smiles, surprised expressions, and compliments. One individual, however, became distressed and confronted me, saying, “I’m sorry, I want to be supportive, but I’m really confused right now because you’re dressed as only one gender”. I can’t remember what I said in response, only how I felt: disappointed and frustrated. The implication of their words was that clothing is inherently gendered, and also, that my wearing men’s clothing was me somehow “wearing two genders,” the one I was assigned at birth being one of them. I’m not cross-dressing when I’m wearing men’s clothing. Neither am I presenting as a “single” gender when I’m in a dress. I’m just me, Sage, not more or less of one or another gender. Dresses are dresses, pieces of fabric cut in a specific way. You don’t have to be a woman to wear them. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say that, that it shouldn’t be a radical statement these days, but I do and it is.

Torso clad in a pink shirt with colourful dinosaur graphics on it and black shorts.

I want to wear my black dress but I don’t want to deal with people’s reactions. Even if they’re not negative, I don’t want the attention: the surprise, the stares, the compliments, the questions, the opinions. Masculinity has afforded me the privilege of invisibility and I’ve grown attached to that. I remember what it was like to leave the house with long red hair and a summer dress. I remember I couldn’t do it without at least one catcall, stare, threat, or physical invasion of my space. That was before I grew facial hair and lowered my voice through testosterone. I know the added element of my genderqueerness will only make it worse.

In my ideal world, the world I hope we are slowly working towards, I could leave the house in a dress and not be met with shock, accusations of de-transitioning or being a “fake” trans person, invasive questions, misgendering, confusion, anger, or catcalls. I could leave the house in a dress and be met with not much more than a smile or, “Hey, nice dress”. In my ideal world, I could leave the house in a dress with a beard and not be met with violence. In my ideal world, I could play around with masculinity and femininity in whatever way pleases me and still be called “they”. I could be read as male, female, or ambiguously and be “they” regardless.

One day, one day.