Tomboys Can Wear Dresses, Too: Why We Must Stop Dismissing Femininity

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by Melissa Brooks

The perks and pitfalls of being a tomboy

When I was a kid, being a tomboy was cool. It seemed every girl in my grade claimed to be one whether they really were or not. My friends and I argued about who was the most authentic tomboy. I remember challenging my friend Jennifer’s authenticity because she wore dresses. “Tomboys can wear dresses, too!” she spat back.

We tried to act tough, which amounted to pushing the boys or stealing their baseball caps. We underwent “boot camp” training on the playground, during which a kid named Mike put us to a series of tests assessing our toughness, such as flipping off of the playground’s 6-foot-high metallic bridge.1 I remember feeling triumphant as I overcame my fear and did it, and feeling more triumphant as the-too-girly Jennifer couldn’t work up the nerve.

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You are More than your Vagina: Lessons in Cissexism

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by Melissa Brooks

Part I: Acknowledging your own cissexism

Although transsexuals have long existed, they have not long been at the forefront of public consciousness. While mainstream society is finally beginning to acknowledge and openly discuss trans issues, trans people remain very much marginalized and continue to be persecuted. Most cissexual  individuals—those of us whose gender identity matches the one society assigned us—have such a limited understanding of the trans experience because we grew up learning limited definitions of gender, biological sex, sexuality and sexual orientation that fail to account for trans people. As a result, even the best intentioned among us inadvertently harbor cissexist ideas—the belief that transsexual genders are less legitimate than, and mere imitations of, cissexual genders.Continue Reading