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"How did you come out to yourself as transgender?"

by Liam Lowery

I first heard about The L Word at an indoor track meet my freshman year of high school.

A group of cool lesbian teens, sitting on piles of blankets and passing around a box of Cheez-Its, sat across the way from my lowly duffle bag and pile of books. I knew they were lesbians because they all had cool haircuts and two of them were totally making out.

They were led by Ashe, she was soft-butch teen royalty–lanky and tan, with boys underwear hanging out of her skinny jeans. Who wears jeans at a track meet? I thought, but it totally didn’t matter. She was so cool, cool in the way that only a teen lesbian with a Justin Bieber haircut can be cool. I sat near her encampment the entire meet–alone, as I usually was at school events–and after 20 times hearing them say “The L Word,” I figured out it was a television program, not a secret code. I was so enthralled in their conversation that  I missed running the 55 meter dash.

My parents didn’t get Showtime, and I wasn’t going to ask them to get it so I could watch a show that was so clearly for lesbians that it was called “The L Word.” So I opted for plan b. While pictures popped up on social media of Ashe and her friends having watch parties (complete with, from what I saw, wine that was given to them by Ashe’s mom, they were so cool), I searched various Eastern European torrent sites on the shared family desktop between the hours of 3am and 6am, in the foggy area between Sunday night and Monday morning.

It usually took around an hour of searching, following dead links until eventually hitting live ones before the familiar message about the torrent violating Showtime’s copyright would start popping up. At some point, I’d find the show and watch with the volume turned really low, listening hard for footsteps coming down the stairs, erasing the browser history when the episode finished. I’d creep up to bed as the sun began to ascend, pondering what I’d just witnessed.

This show, I determined, was a canon every kind of lesbian there is. I wanted very badly to be Shane–lady lothario who dared to leave Carmen, the sexy dj, at the altar. I would have also accepted Dana–tragic, beautiful, closeted, zany Dana–the Subaru sponsored tennis-star. Or even Alice–who was the perfect blend of “out,” and “out-there.” God, they were so good.

This was The L Word: Were the plotline perfect, or even well-developed? Not a chance. Were the characters all on a pretty narrow race and socioeconomic spectrum? Absolutely. Did the show leave much to be desired? For sure.

But–despite these flaws–the characters knew who they were, and that was much more than I could say for myself. For cool girls like Ashe or Shane, it seemed like the biggest part of being gay was being a lady who crushed on ladies. Which I did, sure, but I was most concerned with sneaking off to Goodwill to try on men’s clothes or joining chat rooms with names like “If I were a boy” (and no, they weren’t on Beyonce fan sites).

There’s lots of different ways to be a lesbian, I thought, crossing my fingers that The L Word would show me mine.

And soon, it did. Not one season later, we met Moira.

Moira was like me–awkward, uncomfortable all the time. Moira’s clothes were baggy. She didn’t have any friends of her own, and she never quite fit in with the L Word crew. Even Shane, the otherwise butchest character on the show, made fun of the way Moira dressed and didn’t want to be compared to her.

Then, one episode, Moira started going by the name Max. Max explained that he’d always felt like a guy, inside. Then Max started wrapping ace bandages around his chest, while my heart sped up inside my own. Finally, I thought, someone who totally understood what I was going through.

Then it hit me. Oh no. Max was the first trans person I ever met, and he was terrible. He was a reedy-voiced crybaby, prone to fits of rage, obsessed with passing as a cisgender man, perpetually unhappy, and disliked by all.

I’m cursed, I thought, If I am like Max, there is no hope for me. I immediately searched online for an L Word character quiz and sped through the questions. My result? “You are: Moira/Max. You’re not comfortable with your body right now, but you’ll become the person you’re meant to be.”

I tried again. Same result. “You are definitely trans,” the screen shouted, “deal with it.” I refreshed the page, feeling sweat break out across my forehead. “You are still trans,” the screen announced, “Which kind of explains everything, right?”

I closed the browser and sat back in the chair, exhaling through gritted teeth. I looked out the kitchen window, and the first hints of sunrise were stirring on the horizon. There’s at least eight different ways to be a lesbian, way more if you count everyone who hooked up with Shane, I thought, there’s got to be more than one way to be trans. The sky was turning purple now, the stars fading from diamonds to pinpricks of light. No one can decide but me. A streak of pinkish red began to push its way up into the lavender sky.

So, I’m trans. I nodded to myself, heat swelling in my chest and sudden moisture in my eyes. This is going to be good. 


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"So I’m getting very little queer vibes from this girl I just met but her facebook says interested in men. What should I do???"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

If I were you I would just start trying to hang out with her as a friend and build a relationship that isn’t based on mashing faces right away. I am, of course, ASSUMING you want to mash faces with her based on you checking out her interests on FB.

The thing is, maybe she is totally giving off little queer vibes and maybe even she thinks you’re cute and maybe even she would mash her face on yours, if it came up. HOWEVER, if she isn’t “out and proud” you should never assume. It’ll make things weird and uncomfortable if you were to be like ‘hey soooo…. *eyebrow raise* you’re not really into dudes right?’


Just get to know her as a human, the conversations can come up naturally as you build a relationship. BESIDES, if she’s going to have feels for you she’s going to have them, regardless of when and how you approach her. PLAY IT COOL. Just get to know her. I mean, let’s be real, getting to know someone you have a crush on is the best part anyway.

Kristin Says:

You guys. “Very little queer vibes,” though.
What does that even MEAN?!?!?!

It’s like, does she cuddle you while you watch episodes of The L Word, or is she just being friendly and has an asymmetrical haircut? You really have to sift through these things and separate the WHEAT from the CHAFF. That is a real saying, look it up. What I mean to say is that, in my understanding, a person can be queer, identify as a woman, and be attracted to men. Queerness isn’t always a determinant of who you like to bone —- it’s more of a way of interpreting, processing, and interacting with the world. Which is why I love the concept of a queer community (again, as I understand it), where humans can identify and be attracted to humans how they choose, and still find commonality in a world where there is no central “norm” with which to conform.


I agree that you just need to be friends with this lady. If things get flirty, then make a move. If you are deflected, then mayhaps she doesn’t want to bone you or doesn’t identify as a queer. The more you talk to her, the better you’ll understand what makes her tick, and the easier it will be for you to know if you stand a chance.

You could also write to her on Facebook and link to this post…

Just do me a favor and don’t assume that her haircut or friendliness or taste in music is a signal of her love of vaginas. You know?!


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"SERIOUS QUESTION: So my friend and I just finished watching season one of the L word. We’re so incredibly angry with Jenny that we aren’t sure if we should continue with the series. IS IT WORTH IT!?? Shane is the only thing keeping my faith in the show right now."

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

You guys sound like your average everyday lesbian #sarcasm #stereotypes #ssssssssss

You should keep watching it so that you get references other lesbians will make, that’s why I watched most of it (i had to stop after season four bc I couldn’t handle it anymore). FOREWARNING: Jenny doesn’t get any better.

Also, why does EVERYONE LOVE SHANE?!?! Is it because she doesn’t give any fucks? Or is it because you’re all super into drugzz and sleeping around?? Like?! What is it?! Someone explain it to me. NOW.

Kristin Says:

Everyone loves Shane because Shane doesn’t give any fucks and people like other people to give all the fucks and so everyone just wants Shane to be like OMG I DIDN’T GIVE ANY FUCKS EXCEPT NOW I MET YOU AND SUDDENLY I GIVE A FUCK bc that will make them feel really special and also did Shane do lots of drugs BC I DON’T REMEMBER THAT I JUST REMEMBER THAT SHE LIKED TO CUT HAIR.

Anyway. If you are asking “Is it worth it” in a context of, like, “Is this show going to ever be compelling and wonderful?” then you should probably pack your DVDs up and start watching House of Cards or something. If you are asking “Is it worth it” bc you mean “Will I enjoy this ridiculous show bc it is totally ridiculous and fun?” then buckle up and keep going.

Also. Wait. Actually. Shut up and watch Season Two. Here’s my reason:



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“How do I ask my parents to send me the entire collection of the L Word I left at home when I went to college without totally outing myself?”

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

Blame it on whatever friend you like least. OR

Say “Can you send me the entire L word series, it’s in my room LOLOLOL” and when they say “okay got it” just go “omg. really? i was making a joke…” OR

Say “Yea, i don’t really know, my lesbian friend said she left some lesbian tv show in my room, do you see it” OR

Say “I’m not gay or anything, but can you send my L word dvds back?” OR

Tell one of your friends to go to your house and sneak them out… No one is better at sneaking into your house but you, tell friend the tricks and get it DONE.

Calm down and wait to get them until you’re home next?

Kristin Says:

Omg. You literally need those DVDs so bad that you are willing to risk outing yourself to your family for them. Bahahahahahaha.

Here’s what I would do:

You: ”Yo parents. Can you send me the DVDs called ‘The L Word’ please?”

Your Parents: “There are so many ladies on these DVDs, what is ‘The L Word’?”

You: “The L Word is sometimes laughing, sometimes losing, sometimes loving… but also it could be talking, breathing, fighting, fucking, crying, drinking, riding, winning, cheating, kissing, thinking and dreaming… even though those words don’t technically BEGIN with the letter L. It’s a REALLY complicated show.”


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"how does the L word compare to real life?"

- Question submitted by Anonymous

Dannielle Says:

uh…. i mean, in college it was pretty much real life… All the friends in the group all dated each others exes and we all stayed best friends and all got together and watched the L Word together and lol’d about how awkward it all was. There was totally one place where we all hung out and most of us worked together… BUT IN REAL LIFE AFTER COLLEGE things are sort of different.

Part A. Not every lesbian wears dresses and the ones who don’t wear dresses are not all like shane.

Part B. Not every lesbian cheats on every other lesbian.

Part C. Not every lesbian gets back together with her ex AT SOME POINT.

Part D. There is no king lesbian, there is no papi, there is no shane, and they do not have boner wars.

Part E. We don’t all play poker.

I think those are the basics.

Kristin Says:

wait wait wait, i got it you guys, here’s how the L word compares to real life:


*no one is ever as hot as carmen, shane made way too much money cutting hair, no one can ever keep up such a long-running, never-ending annoyance as jenny schecter, remember that time bette kidnapped her own kid?!, pool sex is rarely that romantic, and snoop dawg will not ever be in your music video.


*most lesbians have, in truth, messed around with the majority of the their friends in a web of interconnected insanity… so I will give Alice’s “chart” a few reality points.