Friday, 7 February 2020


“male femme” — my blog title says.
“genderqueer femme” — my profile says.
“non-binary femme” — Jam Rostron says.
“sissy femme” — Jacob Tobia says.

Actually: sissy comma femme. That is: “sissy, femme, queer, and proud”, the title of a chapter in Jacob's book: ‘Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story’. I've reduced it to “sissy femme” because... well, just because I wanted to add it to that list. I like lists.

But the key word this time isn't “femme”, it's sissy, which is a label I've been trying on for size lately. I've even got the t-shirt:

As with all reclaimed words, there's a proper fuck off quality to it.
Sissy as in fuck off – channelling “femme as in fuck you” (if you know that expression?)

It also has multiple connotations, something Jacob alludes to in their book:

I used to think that my gender was a voyage that needed a destination, but as I've gotten older, I've come to embrace that my gender is more like an onion. It doesn't have a center, a core, a discernable middle. It's layer upon layer upon layer, veiled beneath a thin skin. Sometimes the act of peeling apart the layers (...) can make your eyes sting. (...) But each layer is meaningful, and with enough time and proper preparation, each layer is delicious.

In other words, our genders are often plural, revealed slowly and delicately, rather than being fixed and singular.

And I like another of Jacob's metaphors:

When a person hides in The Closet, we act as if it is their responsibility to come out. But when a snail hides in its shell, we don't delegate responsibility the same way. A snail only hides in its shell because the world outside feels hostile. If a snail recoils at the sight of you, it's not because the snail is cowardly or lying or deviant or withholding, it's because you've scared it.

That instead of a closet we're obliged to escape, we have ornate shells for our required protection, usually ones we've grown from childhood. Yes, a snail may well be happier shuffling along with its head out. That doesn't mean it wants to discard the shell entirely and be a slug. So I'll keep my shell too, thanks.

Btw, it's my ninth blog anniversary today. Hello. I'm Jonathan. I'm a sissy :)


  1. Congratulations on the blog anniversary. I think nine years is quite the achievement.

    As to the journey or layers of gender: I'm so with you on this. Sometimes it seems that as we move through life, new things are revealed and things that once felt true or right, don't quite fit.

    1. Thanks, Lynn x

      Yes, gender is a many splendored thing. It's the April rose that only grows in the early Spring. Or something ;)

  2. I think you have hit the nail on the head here, as we go through life and a new part of our identity reveals itself we then find another different facet to out lives becomes apparent and so it goes on, as you say just like pealing an onion. As we come to terms with each layer our life changes, sometimes by very little, but other times by a great deal, it's a fantastic journey that will lead us to our ultimate destiny. Who knows if we will ever get to the core, but that matters not providing you enjoy the journey!

    1. Hi Andrea :)

      Yes, it's a nice metaphor. And especially for those of us who work to understand things (about ourselves) by writing them down. I try not to say "we" very much about gender (and when I do, it's always an optional "we"), but my "I" has also changed substantially, so much so that the posts I wrote in earlier years now strike me as – very often – being by someone else entirely. Not that I think what I wrote was wrong necessarily, it's just... well... a few layers have come off since then ;)

  3. Congratulations on 9 years of blogging. Thanks for the quotes and references which are certainly food for thought. Our perception of our place in the world of gender is always fluid, I find, as is our response to it. I guess that's only to be expected and I find the ebb and flow doesn't bother me as much as it used to. Sue x

    1. Thanks, Sue x

      Re the quotes: they're probably the best bits in the book. A lot of it is... I dunno... a bit self-obsessed. I suppose that's an odd thing to say about an autobiography, but personally I wasn't all that interested in Jacob's every little feeling about themself, nor every slight they've suffered in an otherwise quite privileged life.