Columns / Discourse / October 18, 2017

The F-Word: Femme and non-binary poc deserve this column

We deserve to heal. We deserve to look in the mirror and see something other than the white capitalist image of who we are supposed to be. Femme and non-binary folk of color are marginalized within their own communities, no doubt, but this article is about the context outside. It is about the whiteness that surrounds us in the U.S. every day.


Ode to your hair

Part your hair. Wash it. Cut it. Braid it. European gender roles assign short hair to men and long hair to women, but do not be fooled. Communities of color have been different. If you are in the closet, remain patient with yourself and wear your hair like the non-conventional crown it is, regardless of what gender whiteness gives it.


Ode to your binder

Our bodies have long been sexualized. Our hips, our breasts and our legs are tropes to white folk. So when the image of the androgynous godx is a skinny, flat-chested, white person, do not feel invalid when you are misgendered. Feel resilient. It is not because you look like a girl or a boy, it is because white folk have been using our bodies as caves and decorating them however they please ever since they colonized us.


Ode to your scale

Much like our hips, our genetics have also been sexualized. While white women have been fragile and skinny, some of us have been working in egalitarian societies and eating good! If you are fat or tall or big, do not fall to how whiteness wants you to be small, to be femme or non-binary. You are not white.


Ode to your language

Speak your tongue like it is the only one you know. Yes, I know it is gendered. Do not take it to heart when someone marks you with the gender that is not yours. After all, who decides which river is feminine and which chair is masculine? Who says trees are feminine? Change whichever word you want and refer to yourself as you please but do not let the “limitations” you feel in your tongue compared to those in English make it less favorable for you.


Ode to your family

Families of color are often in multigenerational homes. If your grandparents or a great-aunt are not in a nursing home, you might not have the luxury of safety or secrecy. We like to be close and we like to share things. Give your grandparents credit for trying to understand and support your identities. But do not cut them slack when they hurt or disrespect you.


Ode to your social media

I know what it is you see. Skinny. White. Androgynous. Pale. Blonde. Buzz cut. Find the folk who represent you and follow them. Support your local fat femmes of color and stan your non-binary friends of color. Fill your virtual space with how you look and people you can look up to or serve as an example for.


Ode to your culture

Yeah, yeah, it sucks that so many traditions can be binary or limiting. Do not give them up altogether. Find ways to challenge gender expectations within your culture. Practice crafts meant for genders other than your own and research how your community might have been accepting of non-binary gender roles before colonization.


Ode to your labor

Charge white folk and men for your labor. Period. Capitalism sucks, but we live in it. And white men benefit from it most, so they can afford the extra dollars. Charge folk for the gender and race education you might be giving out for free. Ask for gigs, for jobs, for connections, for opportunities, for dollars. Anything you want. Because you should not be working for free.


Ode to your mirror

Bear with your skin. Love it. Look at your acne and your baby hair, your stretch marks and your hips the way they are. Do not let the mirror distort what you see. Look at yourself as you are. Objectively. For one minute a day, do not poke and pull on the reflection, just let it float in the mirror and leave it be.


Ode to your gender

It is NOT fake. Maybe your language has no word for it. Maybe your great-aunt does not get it. Maybe you are misgendered often. While your gender interacts with the world and with your community, it also exists within you. And that is where you can find the validation you need: inside yourself and other femme/non-binary folk like yourself.


Eden Sarkisian, Discourse Editor
Eden Sarkisian ‘19 was Discourse Editor for The Knox Student from May 2017 to June 2019.

Tags:  F-Word feminism femme Non-binary people of color

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