My Thoroughly Jewish Gender

OkCupid tells me I’m “more aggressive” than other queer women. Not just a little more aggressive – it’s by far my strongest trait, closely followed by “more competitive,” and far outstripping “adventurous,” “extroverted,” and “political,” among other categories.

While there’s part of me that’s a little embarrassed to be pegged as aggressive and competitive, there’s a part of me that’s a little proud of those labels. Granted: I’m butch, and I swagger and pretend that I’m tough, but it’s more than that. To me, those labels speak more to my self-confidence, to the way that I’m outgoing, opinionated, loud: to my thoroughly Jewish gender.

I grew up with a big Jewish family very much present in my life. Every Thanksgiving and Seder, 25 or more people gather in one of my aunts’ homes. I grew up watching women running the show – managing logistics of the massive meals, leading the rituals, making sure everyone was accounted for and behaving. These were my female role models growing up: my aunts singing the loudest and holding the most Jewish knowledge, my 81-year old grandmother lovingly dominating conversations, my (albeit non-Jewish) mother playing and teasing harder than any of the kids in the room, and my older cousins with their brutally sharp senses of humor. In short —I grew up shaping my gender identity on this group of Jewesses.


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