By Jo

Now I’ve permitted it,

Not to hate myself for the thought

Not wanting to be a woman.

Even if that’s what I should have been,

after all, I carry the chromosomes.

So why does it feel like a lie

when I say: I am a woman?

If I’m honest, I’ve known for a while,

exactly that,

I am not.

That’s how I see my female face,

and I don’t mind it.

I just thought that as I grew up

the word “woman” would one day make sense.

But it didn’t.

So I played dress up,

just to avoid showing that I wasn’t one of them.

Maybe it’s also internalized misogyny speaking through me.

The burden of women, their history.

The constant struggle to break free from gender roles,

new ideas should arise in the minds of children.

My expectations are high,

I don’t want to bear them.

Is it therefore easier to say:

“I am an bee1, just myself,

I don’t care if the male image of womanhood doesn’t break.”

But doesn’t being an bee feel like the better revolution?

The relentless stand for being human without definition?

Here I bleed between morality, intuition, and aspiration,

like when I bled for the first time and wished

I had been born a son.

Because I was already aware of the burden of womanhood,

my fear of becoming a woman was always there.

I don’t like the expectations that come with curves,

always felt uneasy at their sight.

Now I know,

I don’t have to lie to myself,

identify as a woman

just to emancipate outdated gender notions.

I gladly stand up for women*,

and I want all people to be free,

without losing myself in the process.

And one day, hopefully, these words will mean nothing at all.

Then we will let humans be human.

And I am me,

and you are you.

Explanations about the poem

 1 Explanations about the word bee: It’s a play on words where “bee” stands for NB, meaning Non-Binary. When NB is pronounced in English, it sounds like “an bee”.

Explanations about the word Non-Binary:

Non-binary (often abbreviated as NB) people have a gender identity that is neither exclusively male nor exclusively female. Many non-binary individuals see themselves as transgender, although not all do. Some non-binary people may desire physical changes to align their bodies with a non-binary, ambiguous, or androgynous gender expression, while others may not.

In my own words: NB is a gender identity that can mean different things, but fundamentally, it involves not identifying strictly as either a man or a woman, but rather somewhere in between or outside of this spectrum.

 2 cf.:

Biological Gender / Sex

It refers to all physical, sex-specific characteristics of an individual. It was long believed that there are only two sexes, namely male and female. However, according to the latest research findings, this construct cannot (or no longer can) be maintained. Therefore, it is necessary to also speak about biological sex in terms of woman, man, and diverse identities, such as intersex, for example.

Social Gender

Social gender refers to how individuals perceive themselves in relation to their gender roles and identity. It involves how a person feels about their learned, ascribed, and legal gender. Additionally, it encompasses societal expectations regarding specific behaviors associated with gender. Social gender, therefore, pertains to how one sees oneself or how others perceive them, which may differ from their biological sex.

How did the poem come about?

It has implications for oneself and one’s environment when coming out and trying to explain what it means not to feel like a man or a woman. For me, it was a dilemma because women’s rights and breaking stereotypes are very important to me. Can I contribute to the liberation of women from expectations if I am read as a woman but simultaneously distance myself from this label? Does categorizing as man/woman not become narrower when everything that is not typically man/woman is automatically considered non-binary?

Many women do not feel typically feminine because expectations of female behavior and treatment by men are still heavily influenced by an oppressive structure. Thus, one may feel like a woman but not conform to common stereotypes. However, as long as one identifies as a woman, the social gender is still perceived as “woman.” If one identifies as a woman but is very “atypical” in terms of femininity, one can serve as a role model for many children and adolescents. They can then realize that hobbies, professions, clothing, etc., are equally available to all genders. This helps break stereotypes and promote a younger generation that expresses itself more freely from stereotypes.

Therefore, it is challenging to differentiate whether one feels like a woman but does not fulfill many stereotypes and stereotypes of being a woman, or whether one does not feel like a woman and therefore does not want to be seen as such because the social gender is non-binary, for example.

Translated by Joeline O’Reilly

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