Fluidity as a Part of My Queer Identity

Jun 1, 2024 | 2024 Summer - More than One Letter

By Amber Mclaughlin

I knew I was bisexual by the time I turned 18, but I did not acquire the vocabulary to accurately describe my gender until years later. I have never felt 100% like a woman, as my birth certificate would argue, but I also never really had a way to understand or articulate those feelings. Now, at the age of 24, I identify as a fluidflux transmasc femme bisexual. 

When nearly everything shut down due to COVID, I was living in an apartment at college. It was my first time living away from home. This unique experience of combined independence and isolation actually benefited me by giving me a deeper understanding of myself. When I was alone and didn’t feel the need to be anyone but my pure self, I realized that those feelings I have always felt inside me were linked to my gender identity. I started to explore, conduct research, and test new things out. Without fear of judgment, just me inside my room, I began to think about my connection to masculinity. 

After a year and a half of self-discovery, I came to find that my gender is fluid. I do not always feel like a woman, and I do not always feel like a man. My gender itself fluctuates, and so does its intensity. Because of this I have found the labels transmasc femme work best to describe me. I am transmasc because I identify heavily with masculinity and I have a deep connection to that part of myself that is not aligned with the gender assigned to me at birth. I use femme because that is how I present much of the time. I am not fully a man, nor always one, so the term femme affirms my femininity and female identity connection, without losing the masculinity I hold so dear. 

This can be tricky sometimes, because I do not always fit into an easily identifiable category. This can make people confused or uncomfortable. Are you a boy or a girl? So many people have asked me this. My initial thought is to reply “Both,” “Yes,” or “It depends,” but most of the time, I fall back into whatever they assume me to be. This is the easier path, and not one I always want to take. I choose this response out of both worry and weariness. I worry about what others might think of me, but also about what may occur if I do not fit into a box. 

Also, I feel so tired of explaining myself to everyone. Responding the way I want comes with follow-up questions that end up with me trying to explain my whole self to someone. Plus, having to do that for those who do not understand, and sometimes do not want to understand, can be exhausting for my mental health. I have already gone through a journey to learn about myself, and do not always want to put everyone around me through that journey just because they do not like that my vocabulary is not what they expected. I can still be male, even when I wear a dress or makeup, but in my experience, people seldom agree. 

Being bisexual in addition to my fluid gender identity tends to be both positive for myself and difficult to navigate. When going on dates, I found myself leaning into my femininity whenever I would go out with a woman or a straight man. This never left me feeling good about myself. I was scared to present a more masculine side when seeing a woman, who was expecting to be going out with another woman. I was also nervous to come off as “too queer” to straight men. Being bisexual did not faze anyone, but not being a clear-cut cis or trans person raised some complications. I did find that when interacting socially with other gender-diverse people and non-straight men that I was more immediately accepted for who I am. Luckily, I eventually met a wonderful person to be my partner. 

My boyfriend is a cisgender bisexual man, and he wholly accepts and respects my identity. He has always been open and caring towards me, completely supporting my identity in every way. Having him beside me has helped my confidence, and has taught me that I can be loved exactly as I am. Though I am grateful for my support system, presenting myself to others is still a struggle. 

When I am in queer spaces, I tend to feel not queer enough. I feel this way when my own insecurity meets the fluidity of my identity. Being a bisexual person, who is often thought of as a woman, in a relationship with a man, I tend to feel not queer enough even in bi+ spaces. In addition to this, when I am feeling more masculine and am trying to present as such, but am still thought of as a woman, I end up feeling like a fraud within the very spaces that I thought would embrace me. I feel “not trans enough” because I am still a woman, and “not queer enough” because I am a woman dating a man. Although I know myself, within queer spaces I often end up feeling like an outsider. To be able to be in a queer space where everyone understands and respects that some people’s identities are fluid, and that they are still mighty queer, would be a dream for me. 

I want to make queer friends that I can talk to, relate to, and spend time within queer spaces where no one feels less valid for who they are. I believe that I will be able to enter such a space, but I also believe it will take time. Until then, I know who I am and that I have great people by my side to support me. 

Amber Mclaughlin is a graduate student in California, U.S., who loves to write about all things queer.

Related Articles

You Gayyy?

By Janie Kang “You gayyy?!” My eemo drew the words out with a guttural emphasis on the last word like a woman giving birth.  Well, there was no going back now. “Yes.” I blew my bangs out of my eyes, wiping the sweat from my face as the humidity made my “Yankee baby”...

read more