Presenting as Masculine isn’t a Lesbian Requirement

On finding and expressing my true self.

Jai Burgette
Human Parts
Published in
5 min readNov 20

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The author on her 1st birthday.

“You’re not man enough for me,” she said with disgust. I placed my phone on the brown leather couch and listened as she told me my voice was too high and I didn’t dress masculinely enough. No amount of backward-fitted caps could make me “manly” enough for her. I furrowed my brow and scanned the room, trying to make sense of her words. I thought lesbian meant women with exclusive attraction to other women. This meant there was no room for the relationship to include a man and a woman.

I hung up the phone and sat in shock. I didn’t know if she still liked me or if I wasn’t enough. I got my answer a few days later, when she told me she cheated on me. I received a picture of a masculine presenting woman and her. My heart felt heavy, and I was crushed.

I had always been labeled as a “tomboy” as a child. I blamed this on the fact that the doctors told my mother she was having a baby boy, she thought it was true and got a surprise during birth. But as I grew, that changed. I spent more time in the mirror, making sure my bun was perfect and my headband matched the color of my shoes. My favorite color became pink instead of blue, and I wore dresses every once in a while.

However, I still loved sports and getting dirty outside. My legs were full of scars from falling off bikes and crawling in the rocks and dirt. I loved wearing comfortable clothing like tennis shoes and T-shirts and took pride in my muscles and strength. I wondered if I would have been enough if I stayed that “tomboy.” Then, I looked in the mirror and knew I didn’t want to limit myself to a masculine look. Still, I went to college with the idea I had to present masculinely to be a lesbian.

I knew I was more attracted to feminine-presenting women, however I had never seen two of them in a romantic couple. This led me to believe that feminine-presenting women were only attracted to masculine-presenting women. Society didn’t help me combat this thought. I realized society had a significant influence on the idea of relationships.

With heterosexual relationships being considered the “norm,” some people didn’t understand the concept of relationships outside that “norm.” It was natural that in a…

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Jai Burgette
Human Parts

An individual with a passion for capturing life’s moments through writing. I believe everyone should be heard, but I like to be read instead.