Being a Queer Queer

TW: discussion of eating disorders, talk of dysphoria

I’ve been trying to accept myself as someone who is queer and know that that’s not a thing I can ever change. But hanging out in queer spaces make me feel like I’m being queer in the wrong way, that everyone has to be throwing out rainbow pride and explicitly say “I’M GAY” and because of it I feel invalidated. So I hang around my straight female friends who, despite accepting my sexuality fully, remind me that I will never be satisfied with the body I was born into and no matter how many surgeries I undergo, I will never be a cis masculine man. I guess my main question would be how do I get rid of this low self-worth?

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Asexuality in Spades

Welcome to a collection of questions that are near and dear to my queer heart! Asexuality and its fifty shades of grey, how do you figure out whether or not you fall into the valley of asexuality? How do you navigate dating and weirdness if you’re asexual? How does it fit into questions of coming out? And something that, sadly, is a common question: am I asexual or just terrified of sex? Asexuality doesn’t get talked about a whole lot, so pardon me in advance for inevitably rambling on and on.

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Oly’s Back to School Special

It’s September! The leaves are beginning to change color, the air is starting to feel brisker, and school is back in session. This compilation of answers covers a few topics that are more pertinent for the dawn of a new academic era, such as: how do I deal with living in a mixed-gender dorm full of straight cis people? How do I find a good queer-friendly university? And a throwback to last year, how do I meet other queer people if I’m not out? Continue reading

its not funny

When Friends are Gross

I am a cis female who is pretty feminine and recently came out as bi to some of my closest friends. A lot of them are men. Do you have any experience with or advice about combatting comments like “Can I watch?” or “That’s so hot!” when it comes to sex between two women? It makes me really uncomfortable and is pretty hurtful, but I am usually at a loss of how to tell them these comments are not okay. Help me!

That’s so gross! That’s so disrespectful to you and they absolutely need to know that they’re being atrocious friends! I wish I could say that I haven’t experienced this (or something like this) before, but being a DFAB person in a social circle of mostly boys unfortunately puts you in a shitty position for emotional affirmation. Such is sexism. When I say “such is sexism,” that in no way translates to, “Oh well! That’s life!” I’m saying that this is something that happens because men are taught that they deserve access to women’s bodies and sexual experiences and it’s awful and needs to be called the hell out. In high school I was a part of a group of friends that was hyper male-dominated. While I had a ton of fun with them and in a lot of situations they made me feel incredibly supported and safe, it felt so often that my body was on display for them, and they totally took advantage of that. It’s really easy to pretend it’s not happening or that it isn’t an issue for the sake of retaining friendships that matter to you, but I’m really glad that you want to put a stop to it now. There are a few ways to handle it and this is something that definitely requires fine tuning depending on the actual people… you know how your friends respond to confrontation better than I do. There’s a big part of me that wants to say screw ‘em but friendships are important! Wrongs can be repaired sometimes! Ignorance can result in some hurtful stuff but it doesn’t come from a place of maliciousness, learning can happen, and if it’s something that you think is worth a shot I want to support you in that. So. Here are some possibilities:

  1. Pull them aside some time or do it over the phone if that’d make you more comfortable. Say that there’s something you want to talk about, and it’s important to you that they listen. Tell them they’ve hurt your feelings with the way that they responded to you coming out. Tell them that they’ve been really disrespectful and rude. Tell them you’re not a sexual object and the fact that they’re treating you as such when they’re supposed to be your friends is messed up to all hell. Tell them they’re being sexist and homophobic because they completely are. Tell them that if you have a relationship with another girl it’s for you and her, not for them.
  2. If they’re not responding well, maybe rephrase some things. Why do you assume I would let you observe a intimacy between me and a girl when I (presumably) haven’t let you observe intimacy between me and a guy? Why do you think a relationship between myself and a girl would be intrinsically different? Why do you think you are entitled to that part of me past what I have shared with you? Why do you think this involves you at all?
  3. I think it’s important that if nothing’s working at this point, you make it about yourself a bit. Coming out to them was a big deal. You know that and I know that and if they don’t know that, tell them. You took a big step and they’re tarnishing it and that sucks. They hurt you, and you need to know if they’re going to try to be more respectful of that in the future. Are they going to make an effort to not be total assholes about the fact that you’re not straight? Accountability and support from your friends is really, really important! You really deserve that from the people you’re close to!
  4. If you’re not getting good feedback at all like… dump these dudes. They’re not the kind of people who are going to treat you with the kind of respect that you need to have from your friends. It’s not cool that they responded to you coming out that way and if they can’t see that, aren’t willing to listen and apologize, aren’t willing to work to make you more comfortable, those are relationships you need out of. Ending relationships is not fun and kind of scary but you’re doing yourself a favor in removing toxic people from your life.

This is such a hard situation but I have a lot of regrets about letting my friends get away with the way that they treated me. A handful of them apologized down the line and made up for it with really strong support in other ways, but those who didn’t definitely turned out to be not so great friends in the long run anyway. You have to think about yourself here, and you have to know that you deserve comfort and safety from those you’re close to. That’s not an added benefit of friendship, it should be a guarantee.

I wish you a LOT OF LUCK and a LOT OF LOVE!


P.S. The featured picture is from this, mostly because it’s really cute :( Relevant! Applicable! But most just so cute :(

To Flirt or Not To Flirt?

if i like another girl and im not sure she’s gay should i tell her/hit on her? im not really experienced at all

Yeah! Why not. As I’ve addressed before, it’s not super easy to tell if someone’s queer or not. Someone can line up with all of your preconceived notions about what being queer looks like and be straight as an arrow, and vice versa. While there are totally little queer signals you can send out through your appearance, not seeing those doesn’t automatically mean someone ain’t queer. So, you don’t know if she’s gay. If that’s not a conversation you two have had, you don’t know if she’s straight, either.

This is a bit of a side note, but I’m not super into the term “hit on” because it seems like one in hundreds of phrases that treat romance and violence like they’re interchangeable. Also when I hear that someone’s being hit on, I’m tooootally given the mental image of some unsubtle, over-confident ass using a pick up line that lands somewhere between annoying and gross. Flirting, though, I am totally here for. Smile, compliment, show interest, and be genuine about it! Don’t touch without consent, keep their comfort in mind, and be earnest. I’m going to quote myself in that past DQ I just linked you, because I still 1000% agree with it. “Watch body language, listen to what they say, keep your intentions on the table.” I don’t think that hiding the fact that you’re interested in her is a good idea, I’m a huge supporter of honesty and candid conversations. If she is clearly not reciprocating, vocalizes her lack of interest, whatever, step back! Maybe take some time to emotionally move on from the mess of feelings that come with having a crush on someone, and then if you want to, go back and be her friend.

But unless you’re in a situation where you don’t feel safe, flirting is pretty harmless. And even if she isn’t interested, she might be flattered! And you’ll bulk up on your flirting skills. Not really a bad situation in my book. So, go for it. Don’t let not knowing prevent you from doing something that could make you happy!

Good luck!



Bathroom Politics

Hi Oly! I have an etiquette question for you. I am thrilled that UW is starting to designate some restrooms as gender-neutral. It’s a change that’s a long time in coming, and I’m sure it helps make the lives of trans* people a little easier. However, I’m cisgender, and I’m wondering if it’s ok for me to also use these restrooms. I want to respect the needs of the trans* community, but it seems like a lot of people avoid using them, and I think it would be terrible if “gender neutral” started getting a stigma. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks!

Hi! Good question! Bathroom politics are weird!

There are two different types of trans(*) inclusive bathrooms, and with that in mind there are two different answers to this question.

1. all-gender bathrooms – By this I mean multiple stalled bathrooms that are open to all people (like at the Vera Project or the basement of the art building). These bathrooms are ones that I’d encourage all people to use. I think it’s important to attempt to normalize these bathrooms! Please feel free! I think that these sorts of public restrooms are places where stigma can be questioned and combatted. It’s a situation where you can realize, “oh, this really… isn’t a big deal at all.” Use those bathrooms, encourage others to use them. Make a new normal.

2. universal bathrooms – Universal bathrooms are single stall bathrooms that are accessible to people who use mobility devices and they also provide changing tables for families. Don’t use these if there are other options. If it’s the only option in a building, go ahead, but they usually exist as an alternative to gendered, multi-stalled bathrooms. Like on the third floor of the HUB, about fifteen steps away from the standard bathroom option, there’s a universal bathroom. Don’t use this one! It’s definitely made to be available to everyone, but who needs it more? Who needed to fight for it? A lot of people use the universal bathroom in the HUB to change clothes, apply perfume (this isn’t chill, don’t make an accessible space inaccessible), drop a deuce, whatever. You can do that in other bathrooms. Don’t take away spaces designed to right wrongs!

As a reminder to everyone else, we have a growing list of gender neutral bathrooms on our website here! Another fun thing to pay attention to, if by fun you mean mind-boggling and irritating, is restaurants and the like that have single stall gendered bathrooms. WHY! WHY!!!!!! It makes absolutely no sense!

I’m glad you asked this because it’s definitely not so cut and dry, so thanks for being considerate of that. I hope this helped clear your confusion up!



Inadequacy and Affirmation

Hello! I’m an amab transwoman, and I recently opened up to a few friends regarding it, and it feels good to have someone know! But, as good as it feels, I still worry and feel inadequate, especially when I compare myself to what seems to be everyone else’s idea of what a transwoman looks like or how she should be. I’m not incredibly masculine, but I have facial and body hair that I just plain don’t feel like dealing with sometimes, and a lot of my clothes read masculine. I’m not curvy in the slightest, and my shoulders and chest are way too broad. I feel a gross contrast between my appearance and what I feel should be my appearance. I want people to know that I’m female upon seeing me, but I feel like, even with changing my appearance in a conceivable way (clothes, makeup, et cetera), people aren’t going to recognize my identity.

First of all: congratulations! That’s such a huge deal and it’s really awesome that you’re in a place where you could do that.

Really disappointing answer: not everyone is going to recognize and validate your gender the way you deserve. Such is life in a shitty cis-normative/cis-centric culture. The satisfaction and comfort you’re going to find will be from Q communities, from understandings you build and conversations you have with your friends, from agency you dig out of yourself every time you affirm your identity as a woman on your own terms. I’m not going to give you platitudes of “don’t care what other people think!!!” because it’s not that easy, and we both know that. Trans women are getting a hell of a lot more visibility right now, and that’s beginning to change the conversation of gender in dominant narratives, but there’s still a lot of focus on the body and physicality (something Laverne Cox has complained about with regards to the objectification of trans women) and that doesn’t put us in a great place to have our emotional needs satisfied by people who aren’t super involved in queer discussions. A lot of people will recognize your identity and affirm your womanhood, and there are a lot of people who won’t. That sucks and I wish it wasn’t something I felt I needed to say. Of the people who don’t treat you the way you deserve and need to be treated, some will change! Some will educate themselves and reevaluate the way in which they interact with gender. But others, others whose brains are wrapped in layers of transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, and hate, might not. It’s not easy to cast their opinions aside. It’s infinitely easier to ruminate on the people in your life who deal you nothing but negativity. That said, I don’t think it’s going to be hard to convince you that doing so won’t be healthy, satisfying, or productive. So let yourself build community with people who do affirm your identity, and when you have the emotional stamina, work with the people in your life whose support matters to you.


In this video Janet Mock calls out the bullshit that is “passing”; you don’t pass as a woman, you are a woman.

I hate the term passing, and if you watch the video linked in the photo caption, you’ll get an idea as to why. But. I am without a better phrase. “Passing” is really fuckin’ hard. It is expensive and stressful and requires so much time and energy… and it isn’t necessarily pay off! The way that you can gender yourself to the world is infinite, from using certain deodorants to hairstyles to color palettes, etc. It’s not any one way, and if you focus on the women you see around you, it’s easy to see that despite whatever stereotypes and standards we hold dear, there’s no one way to be a woman. Don’t hold yourself to a standard that isn’t mandatory, is harmful, is unrealistic and is not even really adhered to by cis women. Call people out when they question your authenticity as a woman because it’s misogynistic drivel and you deserve better. Try to not let people away with inflicting emotional violence on you — and let your friends stand by your side. There’s not one thing you can do to be the “right” kind of trans woman because that… doesn’t exist. Find power in the ways in which you have been able to become comfortable with identifying yourself that way, because that’s amazing. I hope this helps. I know that I’m not exactly known for giving concrete, step-by-step advice, but ideally something in this mess of words will help in some way.

Good luck, so much love to you, and again, congratulations on telling some of your friends.



Kissing Complications

I’ve always considered myself asexual and I’ve never kissed someone but I thought that I would want to! Today a guy that I enjoy spending time went to kiss me (as was appropriate I believe for the time in our relationship) and I didn’t want to do it. I have no experience so I don’t know if it’s normal to not want to be physically involved at all at the beginning of a relationship and if that comes or if I might just not like him / like kissing people at all. I’m so confused.

Write the word “normal” on a sheet of paper, crumple it up, and toss it in the trash. Or something else decidedly dramatic. Don’t judge yourself based on the norms of others, create your own norms. Maybe not liking kissing is a norm for you! That’s really not unheard of! Assuming you want to pursue a relationship with him (but seriously, don’t beat yourself up over it if you don’t), this is going to be a conversation that you need to have with him. Establishing boundaries is hard but it’s really important in building something that’s healthy and supportive and just generally not awful. Is kissing something that you actively don’t want to do? Or are you apathetic to kissing? Does it gross you out? Could you care less? Do you like one way of kissing more than others? I’m going to use myself as an example, only because I think you’ll benefit from it a bit. I don’t always like kissing. As of recently, I really don’t. I’ve only been in one relationship where I actively wanted to kiss/ be kissed/ etc, and in that relationship that made me feel really, really good. Outside of that one case, though, I don’t mind kissing. Nothing about it makes me uncomfortable or unhappy, so I’m almost always game to kiss a partner of mine if I know it’s something that would make them happy. And I like making my partners happy! I feel good knowing that there’s something I can do that will make them feel good, even if it’s something that I could care less about on a personal level.


It’s not for everyone, seriously.

That’s me, though! You need to assess your own feelings, your own needs, as well as his feelings and his needs in order to sort out a situation that makes you both pretty happy. Put yourself first, but in healthy relationships you absolutely need to think about how your partner’s needs interact with your own. I’m almost positive I’ve linked to this video before, but I really like it and I think it’s something that should be applied to relationships in general, not just sexual ones. There are an infinite number of ways to be intimate with someone. Those ways can be physical, emotional, whatever. But your comfort is more important than trying to force intimacy when you’re not feelin’ it. If you like this guy and want to work out some ways for you all to become romantically (?) closer, that’s an ongoing discussion worth having. Don’t let the question of your comfort leave the table, establish with him what to do if you begin to feel uncomfortable, figure out what makes you feel safe, etc. All of my past partners asked me before they kissed me for the first time, and then proceeded to check in on me throughout the remainder of our relationships. It’s something I will never, ever take for granted and it helped me feel safe and happy in those relationships. Create a tone for that kind of communication. If you do some soul searching and come to the understanding that what you want and what he wants out of this relationship just doesn’t line up, don’t force it. Process and then compromise, or don’t, or whatever, but communication is vital and you could get something really nice for the both of you out of it.

Now that that’s out of the way, there actually is a word within the asexual community for people who find their desires and likes changing after having established an emotional connection. On the romance side of it, people who experience romantic attraction after developing an emotional connection use the term demi-romantic. There’s a parallel in the term demi-sexual, which boils down to people who experience sexual attraction after having established a [romantic] emotional connection. It’s a thing, so don’t stress out. Asexuality is as much of an umbrella term as sexuality is. Your individual experience is your individual experience, and that’s what you want to focus on. I hope you come out of this feeling a little more settled and a lot less like you need to figure out whether you’re “normal” or not. Just focus now on working out what it means for the two of you.

Good luck!


Treat yourself

Exploring Queerness

Over the past 4 years I have been struggling with coming to terms with my sexuality. It was always clear to me that I was straight until high school when I started to develop feelings that I wasn’t comfortable with. Now that I have thought about it a lot even after trying to suppress it I’m still not sure and I’m afraid of potentially being bisexual or pansexual just because I don’t know if i’ll ever be sure of it. It feels pretty set in stone that I am not straight but I have no idea what I am or what it means. I fear that if I tell others and later find out its not who I am they will think it was just for attention or I just “couldn’t choose a side”. I need any and all advice you can give me please.

Well, the long and short of it is that sexuality is really a fluid thing, which I don’t really think is what you want to hear. But it’s something that changes as you do, as apparent in your own experience. It’s something that can expand and contract, linked to how your own understanding of gender/sexuality grows, linked to the experiences you encounter with different people in sexual contexts. Words can help give you a ballpark idea, a schema that you can touch base with, but no word will ever really be a 100% match to who you are – you’re a complex person! I think that can be as scary as it is freeing, knowing that you are similar to some but still your own person. That you can affiliate with some words while still being an entity that exists independently of that.

Your concern for others judging you is, unfortunately, really valid. People are historically really horrible at affirming anything that isn’t monosexual (which is preference for one gender regardless of your own identity). There’s not a lot of support outside of the community, and even within the queer community conversation is lacking and flawed. But that’s not your fault, it’s theirs! And it’s the fault of the history that went into recognizing non-heterosexual identities. It’s a fault of homophobia, a fault of a cultural obsession with binaries, etc. I want you to know that you can change your mind RE: how you identify, and that doesn’t invalidate your past decisions and feelings. If my opinion of a movie can change drastically over the course of a year, my relationship with my own sexuality and gender definitely can; an intrinsic part of who I am and how I interact with the world is decidedly more nuanced than even the most complex of films. I really encourage you to focus more on what feels right in the moment, and I hope that the people in your life can support you through that. Try to find strength in the fact that you’re being true to yourself in the present tense! That’s really important in being your own advocate. It might change, it might not. But I definitely think it would be better to explore that part of yourself and see what you need right now than to pretend it doesn’t exist for fear of it not panning out. You’ll definitely learn something knew about yourself, regardless of the verdict, and it’ll be massively rewarding in the long run.

Treat yourself

Treat yourself and your various identities. I have no regrets using this picture with such a serious conversation. I love treat yourself and I love self care. Give yourself a break! You sincerely deserve it.

Some words you might find something in (and readers, feel free to help me augment this because I only know so much):

bisexuality: my understanding of the word is based on their community’s definition, which is “same and other genders.” It has been explained to me that gender plays a big role in this identity. There’s a fluidity, but attraction is very much woven through one’s own understanding of gender, and there are preferences therein.
pansexuality: my understanding of the word is that gender doesn’t play a huge part in attraction. To say gender is an afterthought isn’t correct, but it’s definitely not at the forefront of the mental process. Pansexuality is more “I like this person, they happen to be this gender” that “This person is this gender and I like them,” if that makes sense.
queer: instead of giving my understanding, I’m going to quote Brandon Wint, who is a Canadian based write and poet: “Not queer like gay. Queer like, escaping definition. Queer like some sort of fluidity and limitlessness at once. Queer like a freedom too strange to be conquered. Queer like the fearlessness to imagine what love can look like… and pursue it.” Queer isn’t necessarily as accessible as the two other words (bisexuality is, I feel comfortable saying, the most known word outside of queer circles), and I would say it’s more a lifestyle and politic than an identity, but I personally feel a lot of comfort in the word because it doesn’t ask me for permanence in the way I choose to think of myself. Queer knows that sexuality is fluid, and gives me room to find out what that means for me.

People discrediting your identity and experience can’t stop it from being your identity and experience. So, let it be yours. Find what’s right in the moment and allow yourself room to change and grow. Try not to restrict yourself to something if it’s gonna make you feel like shit. I really hope something in here helps. Good luck good luck good luck!