Let’s face it, the binary of male and female can get mighty skewed for some of us. Like me, my identity is very hard for me to scale on that proverbial “binary scale” of 1 being female and 10 being male. I use the tagline for my blogs of “Walking that thin line” quite often, and I am questioned quite frequently as to if I identify as Trans or FtM. It sometimes makes me myself curious about why I get that question so much, except when I look in the mirror and see a very Butch person looking back at me. It is confusing I accept that fact.
I grew up in a time when it wasn’t cool to be Butch and a girl. And I was obviously both from the get go. One can see photos of me as a child and see that pretty plainly. I was a rough and tumble child. I was the ultimate Tomboy, and I was being raised as a little girl. My parents must have been perplexed at times. I fought from a very young age about the clothing I was to wear, I hated dresses and anything with frills. I would fight them tooth and nail not to wear them. I wanted to wear the most plain of clothes in my tiny wardrobe and ones that didn’t scream that I was a girl. At the time I am sure I didn’t know the difference between boy clothes and girl clothes, only that some clothes made me feel totally wrong. And my hair was another issue. They liked me to wear it long and I hated that too. Finally in the 3rd grade summer my Mom took us to get hair cuts and I got mine in the famous “pixie” cut. I was in my fucking glory. I was so happy to be done with the long hair, pony tails and ribbons. I finally had a haircut that helped me to be me.
These days, as an adult, I can look back on my childhood with some very fond memories.I loved being a kid and I grew up in a very healthy atmosphere with two very loving, caring parents…even if I did rebel against some of their authority at times. For the most part I was a decent kid, just with some gender dysphoria and undiagnosed attention deficit disorder (ADD). High school was the hardest for me. Coming into my years of puberty and the growing of breast, etc. was just not easy on me. I didn’t want the breasts or any of it. I hated the attention that these changes brought to me. I didn’t want the attention of boys and avoided it as much as possible, until I was “expected” to start dating them at around 14 or so. While I wasn’t interested in the boys, I was interested in the girls!
I realized I was gay at around 10 I think, I actually looked the word “lesbian” up in a dictionary after I heard someone use it one day. Yup, that was me, I thought to myself. I kept my sexuality very secret, never telling a soul until after I left home at 18. Even then I was scared to let the world know my real identity. I hid for so long that I was scared of what people would think of me if I “came out”, and back then (the early 80’s) it wasn’t a very favorable climate to be gay. Most of us stayed in some sort of closet for a good long time before the 90’s arrived and the big ’92 March on Washington happened, which in some ways really opened the door for so many people to come out and be seen for who they really were. By that time I was actually living as an out lesbian woman already, but was so invigorated by the March and being among all of my people.
It was at that March that I got to witness the last full unfurling of the AIDS Quilt…a real defining moment in my history. Little did I know at that time that I was going to find out in the near future that I too had HIV; but that is another story all in itself.
So most of my socialization as a young lesbian happened in the 80’s. I turned 18 in 1980 and left home to join the big bad US Army. I thought I could escape my hometown and the prying eyes of my parents and live my life as I wished. Which was mostly true, although I always worried about what my family thought of me during that time. I was an 80’s wild child, into the whole sex, drugs, and rock and roll scene that was happening. Hanging out at the bars was what we DID. We didn’t know anything about HIV/AIDS, it wasn’t discovered yet to our knowledge. We didn’t think about that kind of stuff anyway, I was young, cute and loved to chase the women. I always went after the more feminine types, and I was always Butch…it’s just who I was, and the Butch/femme dynamic appealed to me. I had a healthy respect for those who came before me and fought so hard for our place in society…especially in our own community. Being Butch or femme is sometimes not favored by those who don’t identify along that spectrum. I’ve taken a lot of heat for my seriously Butch presentation at times in my life, and mostly from other lesbians who just don’t want to see me for who I am.
By the late 80’s we knew about the HIV/AIDS thing, yet we were still not convinced it would affect US. People were starting to get sick and die for various weird reasons. I was out of the Army and living a fairly wild little life with a nice solid cocaine habit…little did I know that this is what would sink me in the end. We knew that gay men were getting it through sex, but didn’t realize that IDU’s could spread the disease as well. Facts were scarce to the general public, and while they were more available inside the LGBT community, there was no real organized community around me at that time. I dabbled with hanging with the biker crowd for a few years, frequenting the biker bars and picking up straight women. So, while I had a small core group of lesbian friends that also hung at the biker bar and the local women’s bar, we were sort of insulated here in rural America.
Being Butch I fit well with the biker community, and I found them far less judgemental of me than even my own peers at times. I loved the feeling of being able to relax and be myself, dress the way I wished and to be as out as I wanted to be. I made some interesting friends and met some wild people during those formative years. That seems like a whole different life now to me. And it was, it was seriously a life on the very edge of reality. My bike, those friends and that atmosphere kept me alive during those times of turmoil. I wouldn’t ever trade that experience for anything. I learned a lot, a lot about how to treat people, about respect and about living your truth.
The 90’s arrived and I sort of exited the biker and cocaine world. I got myself clean and settled into a nice solid relationship, kept my little core group of lesbian friends and we would sit on the front porch looking out over the harbor and drink til we couldn’t drink any more. We had a couple of really fun summers doing that and my life felt more right at that point than it had during those wild ass 80’s. I was settled and in love. I was living the Butch/femme dynamic that I knew I was meant to live and I was pretty damned happy. That relationship lasted a couple of years, until I moved on to a new relationship that would be destined to last for 14 years…yet, another story!
The millennium brought a lot of great new things to the LGBT community, we were fighting hard for equality, marriage rights and it was the dawn of the serious techno era. Everyone was getting cell phones, computers were finally something anyone could own and operate, and we were connecting online. Those early days we were relegated to dial up services and primarily AOL, but it was the beginning of great things. I began to connect with other Butch identified people, made a good number of Trans friends too via the internet.
I began to blog on line and talk about the struggles and rewards of life as a Butch in the rural Maine area. I was in a long term relationship and thought I would be in it forever. My family was totally accepting and supportive of everything and I was living a virtual life of Riley. Then I had my “mid-life crisis” of sorts, left my relationship and went a little hog wild, traveling around the country and dating new women. I really started to outwardly identify as Butch and was becoming far more comfortable with it as I was meeting many more people from the Butch/femme community. I was dating more femme identified women than I had been with in the past, and that was what I really wanted I discovered.
I finally could be my authentic self, Butch and proud. I relaxed in so many ways, no longer worrying about being “too” Butch, and no longer trying to “tone it down” for anyone. I was dating women who loved my Butchness and who understood many of the struggles I had had with my gender presentation and sexuality.
Now, 10 years later, I am living my life as I wish. I am an activist, a stubborn old Butch and I am the boss of me and mine. I live quietly back in Maine, close to the rocky shore line of the Atlantic Ocean in a small town just north of Boston Massachusetts. I no longer drink or frequent the bar scene, there really isn’t a bar scene left for the LGBTQ community around here, they all closed years ago. I keep a couple of close friends in whom I trust. Those days of hard partying, chasing women and doing daredevil stunts are pretty much behind me. Although I still struggle with addiction issues, I have it under control now, and I have my priorities straight. I still avoid public restrooms as much as possible, no matter which one I choose I either get yelled at or risk being beat up. I had chest surgery in 2015 and am much more comfortable with my body now, I just was never meant to have boobs. I hated them and was glad I could do the surgery and make that change to myself. So, life is good now and I am pretty happy…and single. I would like to be in a relationship at some point here, and it will happen I am sure. I find it still difficult to meet women here locally and while I do meet women via the internet, I am very careful and very cautious with who I talk to these days. I’ve seen enough game playing in my lifetime to know that I don’t want any more of that now.
So that is basically my story of arriving Butch to the world and treading lightly. I’ll close this for now, peace. ~MB