Looking beyond gender
(with a bisexual woman)
Whenever I tell someone I’m bisexual, the usual response is “WHAT?!?”.
But here’s the truth…
At age 6 I fell violently in love with Hendrik (a boy). I cried my eyes out. I forced my mom to call his mom and arrange a playdate because Hendrik had the audacity to play with Analyn (the little bitch).
When he came over, I took him to the 3rd story of my wooden playhouse and gave him the ultimatum: no more playing with Analyn, or else…
And at age 8 I remember a playdate with Hadewich (a girl). My brother had just introduced me to the sapphic arts, by playing out elaborate girl-on-girl scenes with my barbies.
Hadewich also had a bunch of barbies and I decided to show her the “hot stuff”.
And it was AWESOME.
Then there was an Esther. A Gawein. A Keith…
But despite the fact that I have the Superpower of being able to fall in love regardless of gender…
… I don’t look the part.
I don’t wear “healthy looking shoes”. I don’t have short hair… I don’t even have the “gender neutral”, fluid, ambivalent-ish hipster look that’s so popular with my generation.
I look, dress and behave super feminine. Like a Hollywood star from the 50s kinda feminine.
An essential part of my identity is completely under the radar (and definitely off the “gay-dar”), because of the way I look, behave and identify.
Everyone assumes I’m straight. Including bisexual and gay women.
But the real problem isn’t the assumptions of other people. It’s me.
I’ve got a big, fat “gender story” goin’ on myself.
And it goes something like this:
“Ok, Merel. Whazzit going to be? Butch lesbo, or gorgeous straight woman?”
The moment I consciously realized I could go from wanting to rub barbie Malibu between her legs… to having the hots for my gym-teacher (a man), fantasizing about us making out in a tent at summer camp (OMG. Inappropriate)....
I thought I had to choose.
Perhaps it’s because my grandfather prematurely told me stories of how my grandmother had turned “unwomanly” and left him for a girl, causing a deeply traumatic divorce (her side of the story is a little different)...
Perhaps it was the onslaught of “innocent” but mindless jokes of family members, making fun of effeminate men, and butch lesbos with short, grey hair, deep voices and pubic hair so long it peeked out from under their jeans.
Innocent or not…
... the result of my gender story was that I almost died, desperately trying to “make sense”.
Because I couldn’t change who I was (trust me… I tried).
I could only hide.
And the only thing I learned from trying to force myself into a “gender box” is that it can break a soul, make a child hang itself, cut itself or, in my case, starve herself…
By age 14, I had to quit high school and drag my full 99 pounds (I’m 6 feet tall) to an Anorexia clinic. All in the hope I would realize this:
being dead wasn’t better than being me.
That spring, death scared the crap out o’ me so hard… I decided that even if I was “half man - half woman” (or any other messed up way I tried to label myself), I still would be worthy of life
Even worthy of love.
Late March, I got my period back. After 8 long months. Till the very last day I’m alive, I’ll remember my tears of profound gratitude melt away my feelings of unworthiness.
But not all stories end this well.
And so, in the name of all the glorious “misfits”, I challenge you:
Instead of seeing men and women today… see people. And while you’re at it, look in the mirror with curiosity and wonder, “Who are you?”, instead of seeing a thick layer (or thin crust) of gender stereotype staring back at you.
You will save lives.
You will save the disowned parts of yourself that never fit the box.
About the Author:
Merel Kriegsman is a high-end copywriter to influencers, visionaries and bestselling authors - making them (virtually) beyond compare with high-converting copy and messaging that gives total strangers full body chills. Merel lives on a farm in Canada - so everything she does comes wrapped in a “fresh perspective” and with an undeniable “cool factor”.