There will always be someone who disagrees, no matter what the topic is. And inside the LGBT…xyz community there are many voices, many cultures, tons of identities and buckets of genders. I recently cross posted an interesting article that was on Slate.com titled “Why I’m Still a Butch Lesbian” in a Facebook group that I am part of called “Gender Outlaws”… and wow, people came out of the freaking woodwork to comment and argue about this post. I only wish we could get the author herself to see the comments and respond to the conversation. I just might try to contact hym about it. At first I was a bit frightened by some of the responses and comments I was getting on the article. Now, the points of view are entirely .the author’s own, and while some may not find them to be very “PC” I do understand where she’s coming from in many ways. Not that I fully agree with her statements or opinions but I do understand some of the thinking involved in what she’s trying to say.
Some people found the article to contain transphobic bits, anti-women pieces, and generally it left people wanting to discuss the topic more. I felt that it was a great article to start a conversation with, which it certainly did! I tried to see where other people were coming from with their disdain for the article, and I can see how some were offended for sure. Especially after my exchange with one of the commenters, she got me to look more objectively at the issues with the post and why others felt the way they did.
Gender identity is – or seems to me to be – an ever evolving thing. As are the politics surrounding it. And we all have our implicit biases – snap judgements based on what we see, age, race, gender, sexuality, religion, disability, culture and up-bringing. Yet most of us aren’t aware of our prejudices. That’s Implicit bias, for those wondering what the hell I am referring to. You can also call some of what we are experiencing as our own internalized homophobia. We were most all taught or told from a young age that there is only one of two ways you can be, either male or female, and that being anything but straight (heterosexual) and living a clean life will damn you to hell and fury. Those things cannot not affect, in some way, the way that we have each grown to think and be. And thus the way that we react to things that may stir up internal triggers for us. I believe this article by Lea stirred up a LOT of these triggers.
Love has no labels – in a perfect fucking world.
People can be whoever they wish to be – in a fucking perfect world.
But when you “say” who you are then you are going to open yourself up to outside opinion and most likely criticism of your designation and your words.
You are never the same as you were yesterday. Every day that goes by changes each of us in little ways, maybe even in huge ways – I call those days moments of definition (defining moments). I am not the same person I was at 20, 30, 40, or 50. I am a culmination of all that has happened to me; of all that I have experienced and all of those people that I have let into my life – whether I allowed them to stay or not.
Gender identity is a very personal thing. No one comes to their truth the same way as anyone else. I am a Butch lesbian. While I feel that I have always been a Butch lesbian I was not always true to my identity. I tried to be other things that I simply was not, for the sake of jobs, housing situations, loves, friends and family. Not until I realized that none of them mattered to my living my authentic life, was I completely comfortable being me – a Butch lesbian. I am 55 now, and I’m sure I am still evolving. I have different habits now, different views, different opinions and a very different body. I chose to have top surgery a couple of years ago, and it was personally the best thing I ever did for myself.
I caught shit for doing it. I heard things like “that means you want to be a Trans guy” and “you’re afraid to be a woman” and “you’re mutilating your body” and on and on. I heard it all. but you know what? I don’t fucking care what ANYONE else thinks, they didn’t have to live inside of my head, and my head is much better off without my breasts! AND it does NOT make me any less of a lesbian, any less of a Butch or any less of a woman. And no, I never had any illusions about those things before or after my surgery.
Lea makes one statement in her article about not sleeping with other Butches, she used some derogatory terms – saying she “isn’t a fag” which really pissed people off. Now, I don’t agree with her terminology, but I do understand, that as a Butch who prefers femme women, that she chooses not to engage romantically with other Butch lesbians. I have somewhat of that same preference, I just cannot connect the right way with another masculine identified person to where I would consider having sex with them. Female or male. Some see this as being somehow degrading to my Butch friends. I in no way am degrading anyone. The type of women I am attracted to romantically are just generally not Butch identified, period. I believe the author was just trying to say that same thing but she tried to make it sound a bit on the macho funny side, which didn’t go over well at all with the people who commented back to me.
I have always thought that there was a “fine line” between being Butch and identifying as Transgender. But…I am beginning to see that that line is much bolder than I had originally seen it as. Perhaps it’s “getting” bolder; perhaps it always has been and I just didn’t see it that way. I’m not entirely sure. I am thinking about this quite a bit now.
As most of you who read me regularly know, I consider Butch to be my gender. It is not lost on me however that I am female bodied and am a woman by definition. But I have never felt like a woman fully, nor have I ever felt like a man. I am just me, just plain Butch. Sort of with a foot in both arenas. I tend to lean very much toward my masculine side, and have very little femininity in me. This is just how I evolved. I’m not afraid of my femaleness, just really don’t know how to be any other way than just as I am. Nor do I even wish to try to be any other way!
I’ve written before about what I see as a sort of “trend” toward transitioning in younger lesbians especially. How is one to know what we would have done had we had that technology, knowledge and opportunity back “in the day” when we were going through our 20’s and coming to terms with who we were going to be in this life? We don’t. Maybe it’s not a trend, but we see it more frequently now because we can see it now! Where back in the 60’s-80’s when I was in those formative years I didn’t even know what the word “transgender” meant – or if it even WAS a word back then! Today’s youth have much more information and opportunity than any other decade before this. Of course this is going to make things different.
I am a very “live and let live” type of person. I don’t like to throw my judgements at others. I have many friends of all sorts, gay, straight, bi-sexual, transgender, non-binary, etc. I respect each person’s right to choose their own gender identity, their own sexuality, and their own lifestyle. I only ask that I receive that same respect in return.
I believe if the world were more tolerant, less judgmental and less phobic it would be a far better and easier place to exist in. But that’s not reality. This, what we are living today, is our reality. We have to make the best of it, we have to learn to be loving and to care about one another. Just because we are different kinds of people doesn’t mean that we cannot just be people together!
We need to have these tough conversations, listen – really LISTEN – to each other and have some compassion because every one of us is going through something in this life. Some journey’s are easier, some more difficult. Yet, in the end we all end up with baggage. It’s who you unpack it for that should matter the most to you. I want to know that I am unpacking for people who will love and respect me no matter who I used to be, and who love me for who I am today.
So, as you read the article please understand that she has been on a life journey as well. She’s had her share of good and bad. She has her own stuff to deal with that we know nothing about. We don’t have to agree with her, but we have to hear her and give her space to speak her own truth, in her own unique way. I hope that she will give that same consideration to those who don’t agree with her article, for they have their own reasons – I have my own reasons! And it’s ok, it’s ok to not always agree. That’s why it’s important to hear many voices, to really listen to each other and to learn that we can be very different – yet in the end we are all just human beings trying to survive this life.
I am positive that this is not the end of this conversation. Nor will it be the end of my writing on gender and being Butch. I invite you to read Lea’s article and tell me in the comments what your take away on it is. Were you offended? Were you intrigued? What do you think overall of her piece?
PS. Here is a second article from Slate.com along the same subject lines. It was added as a comment to my post, as an alternative point perhaps? What do you think?
“I Didn’t Know I was Trans” by Evan Urquhart
PSS. so I went to publish this post and low-n-behold some of the original Slate.com piece has been EDITED by them? Someone? Author? I don’t know, but mysteriously some of it that was causing the bulk of the controversay seems to have disappeared. I’m very confused. So, this is based on the original version that I read…prior to this obvious edit…which pisses me off to no end.