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Old 06-18-2010, 06:29 AM   #21
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The trap I have fallen into in the past is to imagine that the world is generally one way, and I am another. It has lead to a lot of insecurity and questioning about how I present and how I'm perceived. What's true for me is that my experience of the world, and how I am perceived in the world, has more to do with the specific environment than to a generalized expectation of how the world "is" or what I am supposed to look like. And, how I experience acceptance and privilege is directly proportionate to my ability to be overt about my identity as a lesbian (and sometimes as a Jew).

I know I am privileged in many ways. I am an educated, white, able-bodied, middle class woman who meets all outward expectations. As close as I get to other cultures and experiences in my work, I can never own them as mine. I understand the idea of "femme privilege" but it's more difficult to see this. At least, it seems complex to me. There is no down-side to me being seen as white--I am white. But, maybe if I had African ancestry, I would be ambivalent about "passing" and the associated privileges. Being femme (or, for me, really a lesbian), it is a mixed thing to be perceived in one way but know that I am another. It creates conflict and, for me, and sometimes it causes depression and paranoia. Any time I feel that I must hide my identity, I don't consider this a privilege. But, then again, I am not dealing with basic needs and rights. It is definitely a privilege to reasonably expect to be treated with dignity by people on the street, in stores, in bathrooms, and by public servants.

I am thinking out loud about this--.
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Old 06-18-2010, 04:00 PM   #22
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I don't know where I fit in this thread but here goes. I'm white, educated and very privileged. I don't fit the typical lesbian whatever that is I'm a femme but look straight. In fact all the women at my school I'm studying medical assistant so most students are women and very few lesbians. The lesbians that are there are of color and they don't seem to really care. They are butch!! maybe that makes a difference I don't know. But its really hard to try to be out when everyone thinks you are straight. Anyway, it was good reading everyone's posts and it makes me feel better to be a femme.
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Old 06-19-2010, 09:01 AM   #23
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I know that in the past, I've supported the idea that there is femme privilege, so this morning I decided to dig up the lists I made way back when (May, 2007) to see if anything on my list might fall outside of the gender-conforming privilege or passing privilege. Here is the list I made back then:

Oh, I'm gonna color-code these:

Passing Privilege
Gender-Conforming Privilege
Other / Possible Femme Privilege (at least within the Queer Context)



As a femme -

- I can cry without worrying that somebody will think I`m less feminine <--how would you categorize this?
- If I chose to be a housefemme, I wouldn`t face the same judgment a butch would
- I can choose to come out when I want to - on my terms and in the way I choose
- When I go through a breakup, people are more likely to assume I was the innocent victim
- If I talk about my chest - it`s not controversial. Nobody cringes (at least not at the idea of my having a chest)<-- how would you categorize this one?
- If I ask somebody for a tampon - I get a normal reaction <--how would you categorize this one?
- If I walk into the ladies room, I get no reaction
- If I sit down at Denny`s, the old man across the way doesn`t stare at me all through dinner due to my gender presentation
- I can walk down the street without worrying I`m going to be the target of a hate crime due to my gender presentation
- People don`t call me `sir` as a joke <-- how would you categorize this one?
- I can easily find clothes that fit my gender as well as my body
- If I approach (or PM) somebody, it`s usually not seen as predatory or creepy
- I see very few personal ads that say, `NO FEMMES!!!`
- People look at me and give me eye contact when I`m speaking with them
- I can go to the doctor and have the doctor see me and treat me as though I am my gender.
- I can carry a baby without worrying that it negates my perceived gender.
- I can wear a wide range of clothing without bringing my own gender into question or being accused of mocking other people`s gender
- Nobody calls my gender into question if I participate in activities/hobbies which are seen as feminine (i.e. knitting)
- I can spend time, money and attention on making myself look good - without it calling my gender into question
- I can be chatty and giggly without it bringing my gender into question
- I can wear makeup without calling my gender into question.
- I can wear shoes that make me taller without calling my gender into question
- I have the privilege of having titles and pronouns that fit me (she, ma`am, Ms.)
- Nobody has ever once laughed at or made fun of me for my gender presentation


Some of these were hard for me to categorize, but the one that stuck out to me today is that when a butch and a femme break up, it does seem like the sympathy of a community often goes with the femme, and the butch is seen as a dirty dog scoundrel - even if nobody knows the dirty details of the breakup. I'm not sure if other people have seen this or if my vantage point is skewed. I have seen the other scenario happen too - where the femme is painted with the scarlet letter or other implications occasionally.

Again, still open and thinking on this topic. It's a topic that intrigues me very much. I talked a lot earlier about how the gender-nonconforming and passing privileges do apply to people who are not femme and what those effects are - but I think the purple items above apply do apply to femmes and our close cousins - especially in the context of butch-femme culture and dynamics.
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:44 AM   #24
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Nat, I've been thinking along much the same lines, but haven't time today to reply in any kind of depth : )
Later perhaps, and thanks for putting in the time and effort
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Old 06-19-2010, 10:48 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsMerrick View Post
Nat, I've been thinking along much the same lines, but haven't time today to reply in any kind of depth : )
Later perhaps, and thanks for putting in the time and effort
I am very much looking forward to hearing your perspective! I have lots of feelings, opinions and questions, but trying to think about this is difficult because the subject shifts around so much when I try to think about it.
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Old 06-19-2010, 12:03 PM   #26
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Default A bit on Passing Privilege

I was listening to an Outbeat Radio podcast called, "Coming out from Behind the Badge." This was a podcast about police officers both in and out of the closet, and they ended up talking about the negative side-effects of passing within the context of closeted officers. Because I feel that some of these issues do apply to passing privilege as experienced within this community, I went ahead and copied it down:

Quote:
Gay officers, because a majority of them are in the closet, become the target of harrassment unknowingly by the harrasser. Many officers, they're not out to their families, friends, coworkers - and for that fact, they're unseen. Because they're unseen, a person will make homophobic jokes, gay comments, not knowing that they're affecting their officers sitting at the table. There's been many examples of good officers leaving agencies just because they were afraid that they would not get back-up because of what they've heard in the locker room, or they've heard at the briefing table. The unseen officer is a problem. The officers - once they come out - some harrassment will discontinue. They will not be harrassed in that manner. But their fear of not getting back-up or being ostricized once they are out is a very real threat to their safety.
This is just one example of how passing is a mixed bag. The podcast did interview one female cop and one man who said he is effeminate and that it's always been assumed he was gay. The majority of the officers were masculine men who spent years in the closet, and people assumed they were straight based on their gender presentations. Although there are definitely differences between passing for a straight cisgender man and passing for a straight cisgender woman, I still think this is one of many examples illustrating the mixed bag of passing for straight.

Honestly these days, I'm sick of coming out of the closet. Every aquaintanceship or friendship I begin feels like a game of double-dutch. I'm trying to figure out exactly how and when and in what way to jump in there and say, "I'm a lesbian." If it's too soon, it's out of context. If it's too late, things start feeling dishonest because I know they are assuming I am straight. It's taxing. It doesn't feel like a privilege to feel like I either have to discuss my personal life and identity with people or have them interpret and speak to me me as a straight woman.

Also, as suggested in the quoted text, I don't think it's better to be exposed to homophobic remarks by people who assume I'm straight than to be the intentional target of homophobic language. If I had to choose one-for-one between the two, maybe being the direct target is worse in that it's more immediately threatening, but receiving these messages from people who assume I'm straight is more insidious, frequent and unnerving. I definitely begin to feel those messages are the true feelings of society, and overall that makes me feel less hopeful about humanity.
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Old 06-19-2010, 07:38 PM   #27
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Default True but true

Hi - passing privilege is true but true. But I do get harrassed for being a femme too.

A butch woman I know wanted to know if I was really gay even though I had been coming to the same gay event for 6 months.

I am not super girlie but a femme through and through.
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Old 06-20-2010, 07:58 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LotusFlower View Post
Hi - passing privilege is true but true. But I do get harrassed for being a femme too.

A butch woman I know wanted to know if I was really gay even though I had been coming to the same gay event for 6 months.

I am not super girlie but a femme through and through.
This is what often frustrates me the most. How is the "privilege" of passing an advantage without any validation--or perhaps 'acknowledgement' is a better word--from the butches in our community? So I "pass" in straight society...woo-fucking-hoo.

I suppose the fact I can "pass" in public is a privilege in some ways, but it has its share of challenges as well when I feel invisible within my own dynamic.
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:50 AM   #29
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Default Beyond the invisibility issue...

It feels weird for me, as a femme, to talk about "passing privilege." Passing as what? A straight women? Okay, if that's it, I have to question the privilege inherent in that. I guess from a narrow perspective, passing as straight in a homophobic world is a privilege.

But saying that passing as a straight woman is a privilege overall, is very questionable to me -- given the routine dangers that women face in a sexist, misogynistic world.

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Old 06-21-2010, 04:56 AM   #30
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I don’t think of passing as straight as a privilege. True, no one cares when I enter a public restroom; no one hurls gay slurs at me when I’m walking around by myself. But I do get drunken idiots who assume I'm straight, and that they have a right to grab me. I have gotten cat calls and crude sexual comments that made me want to carry around a bat and curl up in a ball at the same time. As many femmes here probably have.

On the flip side (while I'm not Butch and would never pretend to know what that feels like) I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, past the wrong side of the tracks. Clerks would follow me around in stores, would ask me if I was in the right place, or even kick me out. My face still burns at those memories and I have a hard time talking about my past. Of being judge instantly as a deviant or “un-normal” because of the way I looked and dressed, and where I was from.

People see what they want to see. Whether it’s as someone who fits society "norms" or not, both sides have their share of bad and good.
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Old 06-21-2010, 08:51 AM   #31
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My thoughts..
The other day, I had a .. shift or a moment.. when I felt deeply , how much I can never really experience or know, what it is like, to always steel oneself, before going to a public bathroom, and other such things that being clearly Butch, lends it self to.
I think that some of the thoughts i have had recently, concerning how there's no way to convey, how demoralizing and tiring it is, to constantly have to think in terms of how many steps are involved in any journey around town, something that is a recent fun thing in my life , due to my knees and other conditions.. That something I never noticed, because i didn't have to.. when I was younger .
Maybe it was some conversation with a Butch friend, I really don't know.. I just know that moment for me..happened.. and I got, that its not something I can ever fully comprehend..though I can and do empathize.
I thought I already understood it, but this emotion that passed through me, made it clear that I didn't.
But yes, is this a cisgendered privilege or a Femme one?
I tend to go with cisgendered.
I also am tending to think, that that is pretty much the privilege from which most others spring .
While I understand Heart's deep suspicion that being seen as female, in this society, is not quite all that privileged, even so, it is an "extra" in too many instances, and one in which everyone should be able to partake, not just those that are in conformity with, a general idea of what female looks like..
Within the queer context, its NOT such a good thing, and many people have already mentioned this. Yep,, I too tire of coming out over and over.. to groups people etc..
Actually , most of the masculine appearing woman I know, have also been hot on, and although they are usually pretty surprised, its a real example of the sexist way society operates..
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Old 06-21-2010, 09:48 AM   #32
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Well.

Some of these posts have made me cry. And they have made me think. And they have pissed me off. And they have given me the courage to say the following....

I came out later than some ~ I was 36. I'm not sure why I landed in Dallas, but I did. My future partner, with some mutual friends who wanted us to meet, saw me first and said, "She's not a lesbian! She's somebody's MOTHER!"

At first, I want You to know, I was incredulous at best. What???

Well....from that point on, I began to notice that we were always stared at/glared at in public. I hated that, but soon, I learned to stare them down because, by God, I wanted them to know that *I* was a lesbian, TOO, dammit!

And there is privilege coming out of every pore, even now. These days, financially, I guess I would be considered poor, but I have an upper~middle class mentality. I grew up in a white collar household, though my parents were both very frugal. I don't have to worry about going into the bathroom....there are never raised eyebrows there. And, like Merrick, the thought of having to 'steel oneself' is a foreign thought to me. I can't even imagine, though I know it is a reality.

But now, I am reading that the GOP ~ for their convention (in Texas, I'm sad to say) ~ has made their platform known, in that they will 'officially' state that homosexuality should be punished with incarceration .....that marriage should only take place between a "natural man and a natural woman"....and that anyone who performs a marriage for anyone other than those 2 folks will also subject themselves to incarceration.

And in seeing that this morning, I felt as thought it was now time (past time, actually) for me to flush my privilege down my Queer Toilet and scream very loudly against THEIR privilege, which takes away mine and those I love.


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Old 06-21-2010, 09:51 AM   #33
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Jeez, I hope ANY of that made sense....in reading it over again, it seems disjointed at best....my apologies....I have a bazillion thoughts bouncing all around in my brain on this subject......one post just won't cover it all.....

My heart's in the right place....whether my brain is or not.....


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Old 06-21-2010, 02:33 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Diva View Post
Well.

Some of these posts have made me cry. And they have made me think. And they have pissed me off. And they have given me the courage to say the following....

I came out later than some ~ I was 36. I'm not sure why I landed in Dallas, but I did. My future partner, with some mutual friends who wanted us to meet, saw me first and said, "She's not a lesbian! She's somebody's MOTHER!"

At first, I want You to know, I was incredulous at best. What???

Well....from that point on, I began to notice that we were always stared at/glared at in public. I hated that, but soon, I learned to stare them down because, by God, I wanted them to know that *I* was a lesbian, TOO, dammit!

And there is privilege coming out of every pore, even now. These days, financially, I guess I would be considered poor, but I have an upper~middle class mentality. I grew up in a white collar household, though my parents were both very frugal. I don't have to worry about going into the bathroom....there are never raised eyebrows there. And, like Merrick, the thought of having to 'steel oneself' is a foreign thought to me. I can't even imagine, though I know it is a reality.

But now, I am reading that the GOP ~ for their convention (in Texas, I'm sad to say) ~ has made their platform known, in that they will 'officially' state that homosexuality should be punished with incarceration .....that marriage should only take place between a "natural man and a natural woman"....and that anyone who performs a marriage for anyone other than those 2 folks will also subject themselves to incarceration.

And in seeing that this morning, I felt as thought it was now time (past time, actually) for me to flush my privilege down my Queer Toilet and scream very loudly against THEIR privilege, which takes away mine and those I love.

DIVA, do you mind if I use your thoughts as a segueway for mine?

Your last paragraph above, comes closest to what's been on my mind about "privilege."

In my mind, privilege finds its roots in the idea that who we are, what we do, how we live, what systems of beliefs and values we own are at risk when it comes to whether we are accepted by others or choose to accept others into our lives. We (the general "we") experience privilege when we find ourselves granted the favor of social acceptance. But at what cost do we accept that privilege???

And that's just it - the cost factor - when it comes down to how I make decisions about whether or not I experience privilege or align myself with others who might believe similarly to how I might make sense of my world or the world at large or am willing to accept privilege in all its shape-shifting forms.

At what cost am I willing to experience privilege if the end-goal results in minimizing or marginalizing the identity, lifestyle or political gems that comprise who each of us are individually as people who long to find community that is willing to embrace us for who we are?

It's complicated, this thing called "privilege."

I want to say that I would be strong enough on my own and not be in need of being granted a particular construct of what privilege can mean. What I am trying to say is that, when privilege comes knocking at my "door" - there's always the risk that a person may have to compromise their views, their identity, their anything and sometimes I am not all that willing to compromise - even if it falls under the rubric of finding common interests that might facilate a larger-scaled social model of acceptance of that which is not all that common.


In other words, the term "Privilege" (to me) means a particular form of inequity and I'm not so sure how equitable privilege will ever be when it comes down to the cost of accepting privilege if it means that I will never be accepted unless I do "X, Y & Z" to earn favor (the privilege) to be me.

I'm not sure if I have conveyed all that is on my mind about privilege, but I remain open to dialogue and discussion of how we perceive what privilege means to each of us in this community.

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Old 12-07-2010, 09:51 AM   #35
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even if i didn't look Dykey queer, i'd still look queer (odd). i have extremely short hair; i dress eccentrically; i don't talk like the people around here; i wear strange jewelry; i read books in public *GASP* ,and they are weird books, not romances or chicklit (nothing wrong with those, just not my cup of tea; i carry a mug of char around with me; i mutter to myself in strange languages! oh, yes, i am queer indeed!
i've never had the "privilege" of passing for "normal" ever, just by virtue of being who i am. i'm a tomboy femme who sometimes looks like an adoledcent kid. i've even had kids call out to me, "hey, are you a grown-up or a kid?" i sometimes have to think on that one. i'm a 49 yr-old femme who can pass in some of my clothes as a teenage boy! but hey, take a look at how i gesture, walk, or talk, and you'll know i'm a grrl!
my world id is a queer, queer world! *grin*
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Old 12-07-2010, 11:45 AM   #36
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There's another cost factor with femmes - not all femmes but those who wear makeup, dye our hair or buy product to manage our hair, keep up with style, shoes, hosiery, lingerie, etc. There are butches who might spend just as much on butch style, but I would guess makeup alone adds an expense to many a femme's gender presentation. (some butches also wear makeup too). There are issues of expensive surgeries and medical treatment among some butches and many transmen which would easily outstrip cost of beauty/style products, but then I don't know the numbers when it comes to femme cosmetic surgeries.

I would also think there is more pressure to look younger when one is femme, as age differences between butches and femmes often seem to go in the younger femme / older butch direction (or is this a misperception on my part? Perhaps a poll is necessary). So there might be more femme buying of anti-aging products.

Even when butches or transguys and femmes are around the same age, femmes may tend to feel that pressure as young butches and some transguys often look super young just because of the female-desinated-body masculine presentation can translate this way. I know I have been on one date where my date was interpreted by a flirty waitress as my high school aged son rather than my date - which I found rather irritating at the age of 28 (he was 23).
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Old 12-07-2010, 07:13 PM   #37
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Femme privilege? As many have suggested : privileged compared to what? `Compared to Butches when it comes to cultural acceptance by the dominant society? Because of my dress, my style and mannerisms I do not have to pay a "social toll" for being outside of the "norm" when it come to what is expected of women. Even within my own family, and with my children, I know it is easier for them to accept my GAYNESS because I look feminine. I only rock the boat a little on first glance. It is defiantly easier, but I am not sure I would call it a privilege.

We are spurring a cultural revolution over one of the most deeply ingrained aspects of our society. Gender identification. A 2-3 year old child is aware of gender and the implications of it. Societies are built on, and run on the roles of these ingrained identities.(Weather of not the belief is true or accurate) So how can we expect bending societies gender expectations not to be painful? To many we shake the core beliefs that they have built their lives on. We are gender revolutionaries, and Butches and TG's are on the front line. I think as a group we need to be very real about what we are doing. We are not victims, we are revolutionaries. And yes I see it is a privilege to support and love those who are on the front lines, our Butches. Where would they be without our love??????

Pashi


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Old 08-09-2011, 08:00 AM   #38
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Nat kinda touched on this with an earlier post.

Age and Privilege in the Femme world.

Are younger Femmes more privileged in the B/F community than older Femmes? Or is that just an age thing in general?
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:15 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
Nat kinda touched on this with an earlier post.

Age and Privilege in the Femme world.

Are younger Femmes more privileged in the B/F community than older Femmes? Or is that just an age thing in general?
I feel sexism gives them perceived privilege, Nat touched on it with the often older butch younger femme. I do think that it depends on the non femme person though, if they are valuing younger to better that's on them. I personally don't have and have not had an issue growing older as far as dating or fucking. I've enjoyed the company of younger femmes and older because when together and not around a *dating pool* of opportunities femmes bond and talk and share regardless of age. When in a group of Femmes it's really amazing how we all come together, you may have an occasional person who is not there for the bonding with femmes but more on the look out for a future dating prospect but I think those people weed themselves out quite early. So no I don't think they are more privileged per say though I do think they are more free to express themselves and have more ways to access and meet up other queers like themselves. I could be wrong though
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Old 08-09-2011, 08:54 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medusa View Post
Nat kinda touched on this with an earlier post.

Age and Privilege in the Femme world.

Are younger Femmes more privileged in the B/F community than older Femmes? Or is that just an age thing in general?
Maybe I am alone in my thoughts...

I feel (for myself) that I have WAY more privilege now as an older femme (gonna be a crone soon) then a younger femme. I have EXPERIENCE.

I have no doubt misogyny plays heavy in our community. Older butches lusting after younger femmes. But my internal self esteem knows and believes... What I got going on with this body, mind and soul and the years I have lived and the scars I have endured...

I have even experienced reverse ageism. I would NEVER date a young butch. Hell NO! What would we possibly discuss? LOL - see. Poor younger butches are shunned by older femmes like me.

Give me a seasoned butch with history and the know how - and I am a very happy older femme.

The only privilege I feel a younger femme has over me, is time. She has more time to live her life and experience so many more years of love and love making than I do. She has the privilege of making babies if she should choose. She has the privilege of wearing what she wants, that I (my choice) as an older femme would not wear. She has the opportunities to change her career over and over again, whereas - I am 50, and I know the work place is not as interested in me, as perhaps they might be in someone younger.

Julie
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