When I was five years old, I found myself on a muddy, cold football field. I was in kindergarten playing flag football in Saginaw, Michigan. I was the only girl. That day, I didn’t think about being the only girl on the field, I only remembered being forced onto my back by an illegal tackle and scoring a touchdown the following play. My anger seemed to propel me to the end zone, my father screaming for joy when I crossed the threshold unscaved.
From five years old, I’ve loved the ruggedness of contact sports and the masculinity associated with such sporting events. I’ve found solace in the volatility of a basketball game, the ebb and flow of organized sports. I fell in love with the way my father communicated with me through the analysis of a turnover or a missed shot. Sports was my language, my love. But, as I became older, I realized that my masculinity was only supposed to be regulated within the lines of a basketball court or flag football field.
Growing up, I always felt more like one of the “boys” than the “girls.” Back then, I thought my masculinity was weird and wrong. It was often times critiqued by the extremely heterosexual, feminine Christian women that I grew up around. I was not girl enough. To them, my body language screamed masculine, while my body screamed feminine. To them, my actions screamed man, while my words screamed woman. At that age, I didn’t understand the magnitude of the restrictions being placed on me, of the incorrectness associated with those statements, and how they would affect me in the future. It took me sixteen years to perform the mental gymnastics to evade the language spewed to misinform my true identity, and it may take me many more to stick the landing.
At twenty-one years old, I can say with complete assurance FUCK THE BINARY! The binary system that we’ve created within our society is trash. In this regard, it focuses on gender, but we’ve done ourselves a great disservice in every aspect of binaristic life. We live in a world where there are usually two choices: right or wrong, good or bad, straight or gay, man or woman. We restrict our mobility so much that our muscles begin to atrophy into binaristic semblances of once healthy tissue. Life cannot be a binary whether you’re talking about gender or anything else. The shades of grey that we live within are so vivid, yet society hates to admit that they exist.
My biological female frame does not inform how I must live my life; I don’t have to reside within the confines of a socially constructed binary to fit the aesthetic of “woman.” I am womxn because I feel innately womxn. I am womxn with the coarse hair that grows throughout my body, with the wide hips that extend back to generations of Black bodies. I am womxn with my snapback and my baggy shorts. I am womxn with my tight black shirt and my close-fitting denim. I am womxn with oversized hoodies and loose-fitting denim. I am womxn with a constant sweater-to-boot-to-tennis shoe ratio.
I am womxn without a fresh face of the latest foundation. I am womxn without grooming my eyebrows or shaving my armpit hair. I am womxn with my stud earrings. I am womxn with my thick 4c hair. I am womxn with braids extending from the front of my head to the very back. I am womxn with mini twists that morph into gorgeous locs. I am womxn without manipulating my tight curls after I arise from my slumber. I am womxn with a freshly shaven bald head. I am womxn with my arms wrapped around another womxn, she/them lying on my chest in the warmest embrace, our heartbeats producing a melodic symphony of revolutionary love and anti-binaristic, holistically-loving badassery.
I AM WOMXN BECAUSE I SAY I AM.
And however my masculine and feminine energies decide to reside in my biologically female frame, I’ll let them. Since I was five years old, my body restricted the binary because it was never made to live within it, but wherever it wanted to.