Dear baby butch,
There I was, giving pieces of myself out all over the place, fake smile plastered on with a paycheck, placating, giving, laughing in all the appropriate places.
And then there you were, the last in your group. And my heart did that little stutter thing: not the kind of stutter that says strap it on and bring it over here, but the kind of stutter that says:
I see you.
Standing there with your perfect buzz cut, with your men’s t-shirt just tight enough, your jeans loose over your big black boots.
I see you.
But let me tell you what else I saw:
Your shoulders hunched, your eyes on the backs of other people’s heels. Taking up the space in that big ‘ol noisy foyer like a feather in a yard of chickens.
You disappeared into the box with your group, and it was only later, running down the hall to stop someone from pouring beer on someone else, I saw you again.
This time you were walking into the bathroom just as we ran past, and the guy in front of me, he didn’t see you. Not you, really. Just the back of your shaved head and men’s clothes staggering into the ladies loo during a drinking night out.
And he said, “hey, mate, that’s the ladies loo.”
And you turned, and I knew shame. And I grabbed his shirt and shoved him forward at the same time you said, in the softest feather voice I’ve heard from a woman with a leather studded belt, “I am a lady.”
I see you.
Your eyes didn’t meet his. Or mine, when I said, “I’m so sorry. Our apologies.” Your eyes stayed on my knees, or the carpet. Somewhere where you didn’t see people looking at you as less, as different, as something to be feared or hurt.
But you know what, baby butch? You also didn’t see me, seeing you. You didn’t see the proud femme wanting you to look up, to stare at him defiantly and make him look again. You didn’t see, because you’re afraid. And I get that.
But what are you missing by not seeing, baby butch? It’s not all about fear. There’s some goddamned beauty out there too. Claim it. Make it yours. Take up the space you want, need, deserve. Be proud of who you are and the way your represent it. You’re not just a feather. You’ve got a whole damn flock right there with you.
Look up. I see you.