The beveled edges of the mirror frame my face. I stare at my reflection and notice the slight wrinkles at the corners of my eyes, a few freckles sprinkled across my nose. This is the mingling of youth and maturity, of past and present.

I rub a small amount of gel between my hands and run them through my short grey hair. I close my eyes, giving myself over to the feel of soft hair beneath my fingers. When I open my eyes a minute later, every hair is in place and I am grateful for such simplicity.

As I’ve grown older, I have developed a fondness for black. It contrasts with my grey hair and fair skin. It strengthens my presence, makes me feel visible. When I slip into a tailored black dress shirt, I revel in the feel of the soft cotton on my skin as I slide my arms through the sleeves. I appreciate the way the cuffs hit my wrists at just the right place.  My fingers march up the row of buttons, leaving a couple undone so the neckline opens enough to expose part of my chest.

I choose a pair of dark jeans that ride low on my waist. They fit, hugging my curves and my thighs. I tuck in my shirt before slowly threading a black belt through the loops and through the silver buckle centered at the front.

I pull on a favorite pair of black socks. They are soft and my freshly shaved legs tingle at their touch. I run my hand over the blood red and grey swirls of my shoes, the leather smooth and cool as water beneath my hand. The shoes are bold and make me feel bold. I slip my feet into the soft leather and pull the black laces taught.

I wear few accessories – silver earrings, a black and silver watch, and glasses with dark, chunky frames.

Everything I do, I do with intention.




These are the brightly colored strands that I forever try to braid.

I stand before the full-length mirror in my foyer and take in my appearance. In that moment, I hold the strands tightly in my hands but when I step out into the world, they are picked loose and unraveled.

There have been many moments when I have felt the schism between who I am and who the world expects me to be. So many that they blend together and lose distinction. The edges of each individual experience are worn away until they cease to be memorable incidents and simply become my life. People call me “sir” until they notice my breasts or the high pitch of my voice. People define me as “butch” without ever asking how I define myself.

For years, I had long hair.  I permed it and curled it and spent hours trying to style it. I wanted to look like all the other girls and didn’t want to be different. After coming out, I went to a barbershop and got a flattop - an act of rebellion against my past, an act of conformity to what I thought a lesbian had to be.

Now, the days of perms and flat tops are gone. I keep my hair short because it fits me.

For years, I shaved my legs because that’s what I was told to do. Then, I stopped shaving because I was told that I was conforming to traditional femininity though my hairy legs never did bring down the patriarchy.

Now, I shave because I want to, because the act of doing so connects me to my body and, when I finish, I run my hands over my legs simply because I enjoy the feel of my own skin.

For years, I was at war with my body. My shoulders were too broad, my arms too long, my breasts too big, my stomach too soft, my thighs too thick. Every part of me was just too much. I tried to change the things I could and hated the things I couldn’t. I starved myself. I wore clothes that were too big so that I could hide.

Now, my tailored shirt, the bra that accentuates my rack, my fitted jeans – these are the peace offerings I make to my self after years spent trying to look like someone I’m not.

This is the real me. I am recreating femininity in my own image.




These are the brightly colored strands that I forever try to braid.

Each day before leaving the house, I stand before that full-length mirror and whisper, “Be yourself.”

I take a deep breath and add,  “I dare you.”