photo: Purple Sherbet Photography

photo: Purple Sherbet Photography

Everybody’s always saying that we’re supposed to claim and embody our uniqueness, but sometimes it’s not that easy.

Do you feel me?

Yes, every snowflake is completely different. And yes, we are like those snowflakes in our amazing, beautiful difference.

But what about when the snowflake keeps getting stared at because it doesn’t look like the other snowflakes?

Take my recent trip to Ohio, for example.

My wife Melissa and I recently spent a week in Oberlin, Ohio – my hometown. Oberlin was a great place to grow up. It’s a college town, so it’s way more diverse and culturally-stimulating than a lot of other towns in the Midwest.

Not that there’s anything wrong with tractor-pulls and acres of corn. Those are awesome!

But Oberlin is surrounded by corn and tractors, plus it has world-class musicians and an annual Queerfest Drag Ball.

Does it get any better than that?

No. It does not.

photo: Ybridex AngeloDemon on flickr

photo: Ybridex AngeloDemon on flickr

So why did this little snowflake have such a hard time if she was staying in Oberlin?

Because Oberlin wasn’t the problem. It was all the places and spaces around Oberlin that were challenging.

I identify as gender-flexible. (For more about this, go here or here.)

My particular expression of gender-flexibility looks like this: I am a biological female who dresses in a way that’s viewed as “male.” I have short hair. I like clothes that have historically been deemed “men’s clothes.”

No, the clothes we call “men’s clothes” do not have penises attached to them. But for whatever reason, society has decided that men dress like this:

photo: Paul Stevenson on flickr

photo: Paul Stevenson on flickr

And women dress like this:

photo: David Long on flickr

photo: David Long on flickr

But I dress like this:

photo: Will Bakx

photo: Will Bakx

My style of gender is expression is all well and good in Northern California, where I reside. In this part of the world, people are used to seeing a woman dressed in men’s-clothes-that-aren’t-really-just-for-men.

But in Ohio? Or, anywhere in Ohio outside of Oberlin?

Everyone thought I was a guy.

I had long interactions with people and they still thought I was a guy. I got stared at a lot. Like, a lot.

I’ve gotten used to getting stared at, even in Northern California. I know that people are just trying to figure out if I’m a man or a woman. I do the same thing when I see someone who’s super androgynous.

But it happened so often in Ohio, it started to get a little tiring.

At the airport, when we were returning home, the TSA security guy gave me one of those Are you a man or a woman? stares after I cleared the security screening. And then he said he needed to frisk down the front of my chest.

What?

It was creepy. I wanted to immediately take a shower to wash off the slimy vibes.

getting slimed done

When we got back to California (praise the Lord!), I had a hard time shaking off the effects of the trip.

So I asked the Divine to help me navigate through the aftermath of slime exposure.

Soon after, an affirmation popped in my head:

I delight and empower the world with my unique gender expression.

I immediately began saying it aloud.

Right away, I felt lighter. Happier. Stronger.

It was awesome.

photo: melissa phillippe

photo: melissa phillippe

It’s taken me a long time to get to the place where I can embrace and embody my unique gender expression.

And sometimes, like my recent trip to Ohio, it can still feel challenging.

But my affirmation reminded me that it’s precisely what’s different about me that makes me such an awesome snowflake. Not only that, but embracing and expressing my uniqueness gives others permission to do the same.

So here’s my question for you:

What do you delight and empower the world with?

Hint: it might be something about yourself that you’ve made wrong. Some unique, quirky, totally-different-from-what-the-world-deems-as-acceptable thing about yourself.

That very thing is here to delight and empower the world. And you!

After all, you’re not like all the other snowflakes.

Why pretend to be?

photo: Benny Mazur on flickr

photo: Benny Mazur on flickr

How do you delight and empower the world? Share your comments below!

Wanna support the work Melissa and I are doing in the world? Be on our Angel Team! Click HERE.
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