I am a biracial woman. Bi-racial. Bi-sexual. There are many hyphens in my life. Mexican-American. This-and-that.
I am a feminine-presenting, cisgendered woman but I have personality traits I’ve been taught are masculine. Unfit for girls. Unattractive in women.
A dual nature is not something I was socialized to understand. My world (middle class, rural, religious, patriarchal, United States) has been organized by binaries. My identity as a young girl was shaped by what I saw other young girls doing, the women in my life I wanted to emulate, and the girls and women I saw through media. I don’t deny the strength and value of some of those characters and figures in my life. I have been influenced by many compassionate, nurturing, patient, and wise women.
But these women did not teach me how to speak up, to speak without being interrupted, to demand space, and to shamelessly love myself. I’ve been taught those traits are too abrasive, too demanding, too rude, and too prideful for a woman. I had to teach myself, and find new women models, who do speak, who do claim their space, and who love themselves unapologetically.
It has been a struggle to realize that I can be both. That I can be all, and have all. That I can be patient, but also demand time to speak. Nurturing, while establishing necessary boundaries in my life. I am developing wisdom, slowly, and self love, even slower. But I can have all the strong masculine traits and the soft feminine traits that I’ve ever wanted.
My most recent revelation is that being biracial and Chicana does not mean being Mexican in a white space, or being white in a Mexican space. I am both, at all times. There is not a moment that I am not both. I am Chicana. I am white.
When people tell me I am too pale, that I don’t look Mexican enough – that’s fine, I am biracial. When people talk about my dark, squinty eyes that I got from my father – that is his mark on me. My light skin, and tendency to freckle – that is my mother. I am both. I don’t have to pick a side.
I also receive skepticism about the legitimacy of my sexuality. People assume because I am dating a man that I am heterosexual. People say they never would have guessed I was bisexual.
I’ve decided to let that go. It’s stifling to hear that you don’t match up to people’s ideas of what you say you are; it’s invalidating and frustrating. But I’ve decided to let it go. They can’t see me as a lover of multiple genders. But I can.
I can occupy all the spaces I feel affinity with. My reach is long and broad and absolutely legitimate. I am what I say, and I can be it all.