I Wear Lipstick and Paint My Nails, and No, I'm Not a Girl

I identify as male. Despite having luxuriously long blonde hair (when I wash it) and metallic blue nails, I am not a woman.

Last weekend I went to the bar with my friend for her birthday, and as I waited in line for the restroom, the man in front of me said “hey, the girls bathroom is over there.”

“Yes, I do have long hair and painted nails and, frankly, a penis,” I replied. “So fuck off.”

When I was a kid, I was mad that I couldn’t be a girl. In fact, being a woman is what I dreamed I could be when I grew up. I thought that if I wore enough dresses, painted my nails, and covered my lips with enough lipstick, then maybe that dream might come true. It never did. And now I am happy enough with the body that is mine.

I sometimes wonder if I wanted to be a girl so that I could justify being attracted to men. At that time in my life, my mother wouldn’t tell me why my uncle wasn’t married, because he had boyfriends. And when my cousin Jennifer started dating a girl, I think the ability to be a woman and crushing on other women was justified for me. That said, nowhere was there a gay male that I could really identify with.

Of course, I was never open with my sexual identity until my senior year of high school, which was ironic considering my life was generally free of the worry that seemed to pervade most southern households of the time. It wasn’t until middle school that I even thought of myself as less of a guy because I had none of the stereotypical masculine traits.

My best friend was everything I felt like I was supposed to be. He was the perfect example of a soon-to-be man. He was devilishly handsome and had a way with girls. He was naturally athletic, muscular, and never complained about working at the farm I grew up on. I, on the other hand, used to cry because chopping wood gave me blisters and he was better at it than me. And there was the fact that I always thought my father liked him more.

I know your parents always supposedly love you, but I’ve never connected with my father. When I was a kid I loved hanging out with him, but as I got older, and of course lazier, hanging out with him was less appealing. Even today I think he’s a little disappointed with how lazy i’ve gotten. He wasn’t fortunate enough to live in a time where working was not a persistent activity that one needed to be doing frequently on a farm.

Like, yeah, I know he loves me, but this idea of a slight disappointment from him only worsened my worry of not being masculine.

That said, I no longer give a shit about those ideals. The collective thought that lingers in the air at App State and other college campuses surrounding freedom of thought and expression is wonderful. In previous years of school, I felt like no one was really allowed to genuinely express themselves. There were always a few people here and there who died their hair or dressed in an unusual manner, but teachers were always harping on girls for wearing “too-short shorts” and leggings and the like. College grants students the freedom to wear whatever they please. I like to wear skirts and lipstick and nail polish, and I don’t have to feel so ashamed about that anymore.

It seems like people are constantly telling us that we need to care and be self-conscious of our perception by others. I definitely think that colleges are a huge breeding ground for such thoughts. In fact, I would blame my elementary education on the fact that even despite my new found freedom, I still develop anxiety when wearing lipstick.

So, take this as a finger to “the man” or the patriarchy and restricting, conservative beliefs on sexuality and expression.


For any of you App students who may still have a hard time knowing how you identify or get anxiety conveying your existence to the world, I recommend taking Queering Institutions at Appalachian State. I took it as a HON 3515 Junior/Senior Seminar, but there is a similar GWS 4600 Queer Studies class. Let’s all try to do a better job of understanding sexuality, sex, gender, and relationships.