The way we are raised, the way we grow up is responsible for forming many of the ways that we think and it informs the way that one looks at the world.
No two people look at things exactly the same. We are taught our manners, our prejudices and our ways as we are raised up from children. Most of us know our family’s prejudices before we are 8 years old and carry them with us into adulthood.
I was raised Protestant and in a very straight home. We were the typical blue collar working class family of 7, married parents, and 5 of us kids. I was the oldest. I caught hell on everything first! I was also the first to go against the ways of that typical nuclear family when I came out as gay at age 18 to the world and 22 to my family.
I’ve had much time for self-reflection in my recent years. I like to think I am a good person, empathetic and sympathetic. Some get this from therapy, talking and conversation. I get my doses of self-reflection through my blogging and writing. I rant and ramble, figure things out, change my opinions and improve myself daily. I always try to look at the other side of things, and not be judgmental.
My identity today is founded partially in how I was raised, and partially in how I have walked the world and what I have come to believe on my own. I no longer hold the same exact values that I once had. I like to believe my values have changed for the better. While I was taught respect and tolerance, I was also originally taught it was wrong to be gay. Imagine how that felt as a young gay person growing up in a place where you knew you were “wrong”.
Thankfully most all people can and do change over their lifetimes. My family included. They are now the most accepting and supportive group of people in my life. Today they don’t see the difference between me and my straight sisters’ relationships – they accept and support the choices and realities of my life and others in my extended family who have also come out of the closet.
I am one of the lucky ones I know. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family in my life. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that dynamic with their own families. I feel for them. I can’t imagine losing that love and support. I can’t imagine not having it, or being exiled from the family simply for my sexual orientation as gay.
In my own case I am not only a lesbian woman, but I am very Butch. This obviously is part of who I am and has been part of what my family also had to understand and deal with over the years. My identity as Butch wasn’t something that I was always comfortable with myself, I tried to hide it in many ways as a young person. I tried to not be as obviously queer…but that was like putting lipstick on a pig…it’s still a pig. And I was still Butch. Being a more masculine woman is just who I am, and always have been.
When I decided to have top surgery earlier in 2014, and went through with it in August 2014, it was a stretch for my family to wrap their minds around I know. They didn’t quite get why I needed to have the surgery for myself. I had always been uncomfortable with my chest, especially looking as masculine as I do and having boobs. It just wasn’t working in my head and I pursued the surgery to correct my body for myself. I feel 100% better with a much flatter chest, and I am more comfortable in my clothing and far less self-conscious about my appearance. My family stood by me and supported my decision, although I do know it wasn’t easy for my mother, still she was there for my surgery and respected my choice. I love her dearly for that.
I have no qualms with the fact that I am female. I am not a guy and I know it. I get questioned often as to if I am Transgender and while I respect that people think that because I have had top surgery that somewhere in my mind I “want” to be male…but that’s just not the case. I am happy being a very Butch woman. I know that within the LGBT community that it’s a popular belief that many Butch lesbians will transition to male. And I have seen more of them doing just that, but not all of us wish to transition, and while I respect everyone’s individual decisions to do so or not, I think that we need to remember that there are many of us Butch lesbians that are now getting top surgery without the desire to transition to male. With today’s medical expertise it can be done safely and if we are uncomfortable why not?
So the myth that all Butch lesbians want to be men is just that a myth. Many of us are just Butch, plain and simple. Masculine women by nature in many cases. I know that I have known that I personally was a masculine woman for most of my life. As a kid I was known as a super Tomboy and as I grew up I didn’t change, I became an adult Tomboi….better known as a Butch woman.
I enjoy my life, I enjoy my sexuality and my gender presentation. If I didn’t like myself the way that I am I would change, right? Right. But I don’t change because this is how I am comfortable. This is how I am meant to be in this life. This is what feels right and good in my mind, body and soul.
I hold a lot of respect for those in my life who are Trans*. It’s got to be one very tough road. I can only imagine if I go through what I do, that they each must have much harder roads to travel. I read a blog about one former Butch lesbian’s journey into transition, here, and it was very eye opening for me – and I consider myself pretty well informed! I hadn’t thought of the need to validate, and other issues that my Trans* friends face daily. This is a great blog, and I recommend the read for everyone.
It also makes me wonder if my lack of correction with people who mis-gender me is a good or bad thing. I get called sir at least 6-8 times a day (especially at work, I work in tool and hardware sales, so I have a typically male dominated job and I look very masculine. This obviously makes people assume that I am a guy….thus the “sir”. It’s children that don’t get it quite often. I had one boy last week pull the “is that a girl or a boy?” question to his mother, when she didn’t answer and was obviously embarrassed, he got louder and louder, repeating the question about 4 times. She scurried him away and scolded him as she went.
Should I be correcting people? It just seems bothersome to me, and it seems that I would be just inviting discomfort. Who’s discomfort, I am not sure. My own for one. I find it just easier and more comfortable for me to ignore it and carry on with what ever I am doing. At least at work where I am in contact with the person for a few minutes, then may never see them again. I think if it were someone who was in my life on a regular basis I would have to find a way to correct them and leave it as a positive experience. eh…
Some would say “You look like a guy, so it shouldn’t bother you.” And for the most part it doesn’t, I am just wondering if it’s right or not, how I handle it. Is ignoring it disrespectful?
So here I ramble once again…it’s part of my thought process, part of navigating the world and the questions in my head.