What comes to mind when you think of the word “queer”? For many, there is a strong reliance on visual signifiers to distinguish queer folks from the crowd. Many cling to stereotypes, expecting a gay man to dress in heels and a lesbian to dress in flannel.
But, of course, a person’s identity is not entirely decipherable by what they’re wearing or whether or not they wear make-up. We usually think heterosexuals are the ones perpetuating this stereotype, and while heterosexist culture does certainly play a hand in this, queer communities also tend to reaffirm these notions the “queer look.”
In this recent article by Jeannette Young, she describes her femme identity, or how she presents as very feminine, which often leads other queer womyn to not see her as queer, or see her as not queer enough:
Femmes have also theorized our own feminist understandings of femininity. We know that the construct of “femininity” is often exclusionary because it has been defined according to certain standards of white, heterosexual, middle-class, able, and cisgendered (non-trans) female bodies of a certain size and shape.
For some queer people who don’t fit into these categories, identifying as femme allows us to access, reclaim, and redefine femininity on our own terms—in ways that are incredibly empowering.
Young makes a great point here. What is beautiful about queer spaces is that the possibilities of gender identity and presentation are limitless, and in those limitless possibilities comes acceptance within the space. Queer communities should not be marginalizing femme identifying individuals because they don’t meet a certain standard of queer. Queer has no definition and no dress code.