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“Fag!” The word flew out the driver’s side window of a beat up, dark car. I lifted my head from looking at my shoes and saw that the word had come screeching out of a painfully average man, who had a child in the backseat. It festered in the air for a moment, followed by the sound of low tires traveling away. I wasn’t sure if it was directed to me or the friend beside me.

I examined my friend, a male with black hair pointing east, wearing activewear. Clearly, he was male-presenting, whereas I wore a button-up closed to the top. The shirt that once gained me compliments and boosted my confidence now felt stained, dirty, and vacant. My hair was shaved on the left only, and on the right side it was tucked behind my ear.

The confusion lifted. Obviously, it was to me.

I cut my hair short for the first time after not attending school because of too much stress. Watching the curls fall out of my head, then burning the remaining strands straight, felt liberating. This was what I desired for years on end, and I was finally comfortable enough to do it without thinking about the opinions of others. Compliments for the unfamiliar were scribbled upon me in school.

Burning my hair to a crisp every morning sure gave me an overwhelming confidence boost. Running my hands to the shaven side was a new habit I had picked up. I felt better.

Middle school is a bright time for insecurities to shine. The new change of my outward appearance felt mundane at the time, but now, the backlash of the encounter from a vehicle was ghastly. In that moment, I was thinking perhaps I should have never cut it off, or worn a more feminine top? Maybe I could have gotten ready, instead of throwing on some clothes and rushing to school.

As a queer female, empowerment from others, both personally and through social media, is much needed. Degrading terms are avoided and love is advocated. We are growing up, after all.

I like to think I live my life pretty okay, about a C- on the grade scale. It’s not good, but I’m passing. Being 15 and identifying as queer has not left me with many difficulties, as it would have in previous years. I’m constantly complimented for my short hair and sense of style. I’m aware that I am able to express who I am to so many people, freely.

Personally, I have come to realize many teens my age are not bothered much about sexuality or identity. They are accepting and open minded. That’s not to say acceptance is 100 percent, but it’s getting there.

The difference between the past and today is discussion. Living in a time where digital technology is glued to people my age, information is spread rapidly.

The internet has given me news updates and profiles of queer youth around the world. To an extent, I am granted a sense of ease. That ease also comes from how young people view the world and have the determination to change it. It fuels me with motivation to create positive change for my future. Social media fills younger folks like myself with comfort that solitude is not possible. Knowing I am not alone with my ideas is enough to propel me to become a better person.

I do not pursue communicating with others through social media. Rather, I enjoy exploring the profile set ups of individuals and reading their publicized thoughts. It’s both personal and public. The beauty is that you can say anything, and at least one person will connect with you.

I’m fearful of what others think of me, but I know judgement is inevitable. I personally do not enjoy sharing fragments of my life too often through social media; however, I appreciate that others do. Twitter threads of personal experiences and Instagram pictures of trips are all openly shared between like-minded people.
Social media platforms have assisted us in being able to voice our thoughts and find counter-arguments and agreements from people across the board.

My school labels itself as a safe space, and so far, the term is fitting. The luxury lies within the group of girls promoting self love, or perhaps in the teachers motivating students to become a better version of themselves. My personal surroundings are a positive realm to thrive in, and the difficulty is minimal.

As a queer female, empowerment from others, both personally and through social media, is much needed. Degrading terms are avoided and love is advocated.

We are growing up, after all.

And to the jerk in the beat up car, I have short hair and rock button ups as a mating call for girls, not to fit in your heteronormative world, jerk.