January 6th, 2003

Mr. Gruff
  • aldente


So I had this icky conversation with my friends yesterday...it wasn't meant to be icky, but it left me feeling that way. First, let me say that my friends are all queer and very savvy about gender and identity and all that, and share most of my feelings on these subjects. Anyway, the conversation revolved around polycystic ovarian syndrome, which two of them suspect they have and for which they are being tested. One of them had done all sorts of poking around online and was presenting us with the info she found. Among the gems: that there is some extraordinarily high occurrence of PCOS among FTMs and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, and that one way to tell if you are at risk for PCOS is if the ring finger on your right hand is longer than the index finger on that hand (because the length of that finger allegedly has something to do with testosterone levels). Everyone then started talking about all the butches/FTMs we know who have PCOS (which is quite a few), and then we compared fingers. Unlike everyone else in the group who either IDs as butch/genderqueer or has PCOS, my two fingers in question were exactly the same length. When everyone else saw this, my friend Ari patted me on the shoulder and said, "Don't worry Mart, you're still queer."

Okay, so I know it's silly to feel like your identity is being invalidated by something as idiotic as the length of your finger (especially since I don't think the finger test is scientific proof of jack shit) but, well, it's bugging me. After all the talk yesterday, I realized how many of the characteristics that people associate with butchness (masculine body shape, facial hair) are also symptoms of PCOS. I don't have PCOS. I am small and unhairy and not terribly masculing-looking...the most I can hope for is to pass as a prepubescent boy. My claims of being "butch" have always been met with skepticism. You're not butch, I've been told, butch means big and manly and aggressive and scary. I haven't fit too well in the trans category either, since besides not looking terribly manly I'm not unhappy with my body and don't intend to change it... Anyway, I'm not even sure I know what my point is, except that it was really disturbing to be part of a conversation where people were looking (even jokingly) for some sort of physical proof of who they are, and even more disturbing that I let myself feel left out of the club. It's not like I need to have dysfunctional ovaries to be butch or queer (even if it makes you more recognizable as such)...and it's not like having dysfunctional ovaries makes you butch/queer (I know femmes and straight girls who have it, too), so there's no reason for me to feel weird about it, but I did and do. So I thought I'd vent here, since I haven't really posted anything thought-provoking since the community started, and see what y'all have to say :)