The Gender Revolution?

It used to be so much more simple!  It used to be that you were either gay or straight, period.  Or at least that is how it was in my world growing up in the 60’s/70’s and partying my ass off in the gay bars in the 80’s…it used to be easier I believe.  I’m not knocking anyone’s gender or orientation choice here, just saying that it’s gotten VERY confusing for me.  I was just reading this article on npr.org titled “A New Generation Overthrows Gender” by Jon Brooks.  It was posted on Facebook, thus I clicked the link and knew I was in a world of word trouble immediately. 

First word I came across that is fairly new to me is “agender” – which according to the article means neither ale nor female.  The particular person in the article used the pronoun “they” instead of he or she.  Ok, so I am really, really trying to be okay with this.  I am really trying not to be internally phobic, or form an immediate opinion – because I know I don’t like it when people do that to me.  BUT I just don’t get it. 

Second word I came across related to this is “Transgender”.  Thank God.  A word that I know and can understand to some degree.  Transgender meaning someone who has changed from one gender to the opposite gender.  Transitioned.  More on this later. 

Third hurdle here “gender-fluid”…which means (according to kid in the article) that you feel like a guy or girl at different times.  I can somewhat relate to this.  There are definitely times for me that I get this twinge of feeling like a girl, but normally I just feel like a guy – although I know I’m a girl.  Confused yet? 

Fourth stumper “non-binary gender” meaning not female and not male according to the binary gender scale.  I’ll see if I can locate a picture of that old scale before I publish this.  But it’s like if you give Female a 1 and Male a 10, and you rate where in the scale you may fall or feel that you fall. 

Near the end of the article they bring up “gender non-conforming” – which I can definitely fully relate to.  I am one who does not conform to the gender norms of female.

And of course we have the weird word “cisgender” meaning you identify as you were sexed at birth – either male or female.   

Then it dives into Gender Vs. Sexual orientation Vs. biology….yes, it gets very in-depth for a minute here:

“Gender identity is different from gender expression, being different from biology” says Adam Chang, a consultant with Gender Spectrum, a provider or gender identity resources and services in Berkeley, CA.  “Identity is what you know in your heart and mind, and expression is external – hair, makeup, roles you take on in society.

“Biology of course, means physical attributes that have always been used as a proxy for gender,” Chang says.  “And all of those are different from sexual orientation.”

((HOLY SHIT BATMAN!))

Chang goes on to put it this way:  “Sexuality is in and of itself not enough information to reveal a person’s gender identity.”

I am 55 years old.  I am Butch.  I have said before that Butch is my identity.  Lesbian is my sexuality. Female is my gender.  Even THAT feels confusing at times.  I’m SURE it is confusing to those who don’t know me, or anyone like me.  Simply put, I’m a Butch Lesbian.  Lesbians are women (females) who prefer relationships with other women (females).  Or so it is in my world today.  There are so many new words that I can’t possibly keep up anymore.  Especially living in rural America where most of my contact with the rest of the LGBT world is via the internet.  Where we have no real “formed community” to fall back on or to learn alongside. 

I have seen a LOT lately about our youth and transitioning genders.  It worries me a little because the human brain is not fully developed until around the age of 25.  This is part of why we make so many stupid choices and dumb decisions when we are in our teens.  I’m afraid that if kids (under 21) are looking at things like transitioning physically with surgery and drugs that they will be doing things that are not reversible in their young futures.  AND I personally just don’t think they are old enough to be doing things like surgery or hormones. 

THAT is my personal opinion on it.  I understand that we are seeing a sort of “gender revolution” happening, that kids have access to all sorts of information that we did not have when I was growing up.  I never even knew the word “transgender” existed or that people could even change genders if they wanted to.  Sure, I was a tomboy, and there were times I am sure that I wished I was a boy, but I am happy with being a woman today and who know what I would have done had I known or had the means as a kid to change my gender.  It would have been a tough one for me I bet.  So, in many ways I am happy to have grown up when I did before all of this revolution and changing stuff came to the surface. 

I have young female friends who are considering transition.  One, in particular that I am thinking about.  I have been trying to be a good Butch role model and influence, answering questions and being a bouncing board for her venting.  But she is edging closer and closer to transitioning.  She’s now 17, I’m just not convinced that she should make that kind of a life altering decision before she’s 25.  Now, saying that I don’t see any harm in her presenting as she wishes.  I am just against early surgery or hormones. 

I know some will disagree with me.  It’s the elephant in the room sometimes even.  I am not anti-trans, and I have many trans friends who I love dearly for exactly who they are.  I respect their choices and decisions.  But most of them that I know made those decisions in adulthood, not in a pre-pubescent fog of “who am I?” or on a whim to fit in with the “in” crowd, or do the new fun thing. 

My fear is that the kid does this, transitions, and then at 25 the kid looks at every adult in her life and gets very angry at them for not stopping things until she was really old enough to make that kind of life-altering decision.  Know what I mean?  Adults are supposed to protect kids from themselves; from making irreversible mistakes, and what if transitioning turned out to be just that mistake that the kid makes and regrets at maturity?  I would hate to be in those shoes. 

Kids are maturing way faster than ever in todays world.  Information travels at lightening speed through the internet and across the world wide web.  We know things that we never knew, and probably never would have known, had it not been for the interenet – some good and some bad.  I think it’s great to explore sexuality and gender and to discuss our views based on the information at hand.  I just hope these kids today are doing their research and not just following a fad that could leave indelible marks.

The rest of the article goes on to talk about suicide rates (40% of trans-identified people attempt suicide), sexuality, and society.  It seems that while many more people are adopting identities of various names across the gender spectrum, that fewer are actually physically transitioning now.  Perhaps that is because we are making it okay to be who you are without having to completely change your body.  All in all it’s a very good article that everyone should take 20 minutes to read and gain some knowledge from.  I do think it’s very cool that kids are encouraged to live as their authentic selves, to express themselves and to be who they ARE in the world.   

So, check out the article and let me know what YOU think.  Peace.  ~MB

This is a highly controversial topic and I respect that everyone has their own opinions and views.  Please be respectful of everyone reading if you comment, which I invite you to do, below. 

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Those Darned Definitions…

cropped-cropped-cropped-001.jpgMan!  Has language changed some radically since I’ve been walking this green earth.  Daily I am surprised by the “new” use of “old” words; the newer definitions and meanings of some.  Start with the word we all know and use in a zillion different ways:  Queer.  Now we know the dictionary meaning to be “odd or unusual” to be short.  But then we all know the meaning when it’s used to describe someone’s sexual preference for the same sex…i.e. “He/she is queer as a three dollar bill.”  meaning that he/she is gay…another word…Gay….now that is supposed to mean “happy and joyful” by the dictionary, but when used to describe me it means I like pussy, and I’m a bit queer.

Today’s LGBT world (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, for those who may not really know what the letters represent, seriously.)  Yes, where was I …in today’s world we are constantly changing up language.  It’s a far cry from what it was like in the 70’s when I was growing up.  Or the 80’s when I was just coming out and defying the world with my gayness.

There are so many words now to describe or to define who one is in the world.  I could not possibly do justice to all of them here, but I will take a stab at a few of the more common ones just for fun.

There’s the all famous Butch.  The definition of Butch varies so widely now that I am not sure if I am even still Butch!  Hell, it seemed easy when I finally did define myself as such, it felt wholesome and right.  I was a masculine presenting woman.  Butch.  It is my identity, my definition of me.  But what it means to me and what it means to other people can really be confusingly different.  I define Butch for myself as a masculine woman.  A woman who is more comfortable walking the masculine side of the binary, but who is not a man and does not necessarily want to be a man.  (Some people are convinced that all Butch women secretly just want to be men – both straight people and other LGBT people have been known to say this more than once).  I want to wear my jeans and workboots; flannel shirts are a must to my Butch wardrobe.  I don’t walk like a girl, or talk like one.  My voice is very deep, raspy and quite often mistaken for a male voice on the phone.  Plain and simple for me, it’s just how I was constructed by life.   I am a masculine woman, a Butch to the core.  Of course, this is just my definition and will certainly vary from yours or someone elses.

Femme is another widely varying word.  It’s gained some serious notoriety and popularity in the last 10 years I believe.  We have had the word Butch for so long and it’s been more popular for the last 100 years than I think Femme has been.  In my experience I didn’t really have a word for the type of women that I found super attractive until I discovered the word “Femme”.  To me Femme means a very feminine presenting woman.  A woman who revels in the glories of being very feminine appearing, acting and who is often attracted to her polar opposite – the Butch.  (I know this is not always the case, I am aware that Butch/Femme is only one dynamic, and that there are others, please don’t shoot me).

Now there are all these fun descriptive words that you can throw together with Butch and Femme.  There’s about 100 ways to be Butch or to dilute it, which ever you think is happening. Personally, I think the dilution factor is more of what is taking place.  Historically we know that the Butch-femme dynamic kind of started as a cover so that women could see one another  and appear to be a hetero couple…they were hiding from the law and society basically. There’s a LOT more to the history than this, I am seriously over simplifying here for brevity.

Today we have baby Butches, Tomboi Butches, Soft Butches, Hard Butches, Stone Butches, Daddi Butches, etc. etc.  I am sure I have missed a dozen or so other types here…but you should get the gist of where I am going with this. It’s a hard thing to just say Butch is Butch nowadays, because there are so many layers and depths to each “type”.  If you look in Wikipedia or do a Google search for any one of the types you are bound to come up with more reading than you probably need to get to the point.  You can be whatever you choose, and you can define it in any way you want along the squiggly line of the binary.

Same with the femmes, you have the high femmes, diva femmes, lipstick lesbians, queer femmes, and that list goes on and on as well.  I am not as familiar with it as I am with the Butch side of things, obviously and for obvious reasons.  All I know is that I really love femme women.  And the way they embody their femininity is up to each one of them, they can put on a baseball cap and pull the pony tail through the back and still be a diva femme.  It’s all in the attitude I have come to realize with femmes.  They have this great attitude about femininity and they revel in it.

Today’s younger crowd has a ton of other new words too that I just don’t understand.  I’ve come to the realization that I am too old for some of this new wording. But I want to learn!

Personally, I used to identify as a Stone Butch.  I am not so sure about seriously identifying with the “stone” part any longer.  I’m just not sure exactly what stone means to me now.  I know that I am not a “touch me not” Butch, as the word “stone” is supposed to imply in some circles.  I don’t care for some things; for some forms of touch, but I do like to be loved on quite a lot!  I enjoy sex, and sometimes I think the the inference to “stone” is that he/she is not someone who likes to be touched or who enjoys any kind of sexual touch.  I have to say I enjoy both.  While I have my limitations, and my boundaries that doesn’t negate the fact that I am human and need human interaction and touch.  Hell, I love sex.

Stone is a word that gets thrown around a lot more as I’ve noticed lately. I even see it in reference to “stone femmes” now, which I never encountered before say the last year or so.  I’m not sure of how that definition would read or what it would be.  Perhaps one of you readers have more information on this one, or some anecdotes to share on it.  I see it on Fetlife quite often and wonder about it.

So, these are my more random thoughts for today’s blog.  I was just pondering word-smithing and how radically language in the gay community has changed over the decades. Words seem to come into fashion and fade just as quickly sometimes.  It’s interesting as fuck.  You may see me write a bit more about this, perhaps from a more serious angle next time, tonight I am in a fun mood and wanted to keep it fairly light.

Rock on.

~MB

 

 

 

Final Words on Labels

From Kim   “On a completely unrelated topic, one of these fine days, could you do a video on “labels” and the importance/unimportance of them (based on your opinions and perspectives)? I know you’ve said before that you identify strongly as “Butch” and use the label often, and many people within the community do identify with the labels “gay” “bisexual” “lesbian” etc. etc. Then there are those of us who do not identify with labels (myself included) that just are with whomever we are with, or not with, and we just don’t use them at all. Do you think society will ever reach a point where labels and “coming out” are irrelevant or unnecessary because all relationships and attractions will be completely normalized? I realize society has a long way to go before this happens, but what do you think the effects of that would be from your perspective?  I wonder if “labels” are a different issue or serve more purpose in the trans* and butch communities because there is such a spectrum? I’m curious because you would have more knowledge in this department than me–educate me! lol I am in no way trying to imply that labels are always a “bad” thing–I think to each their own, and if someone identifies with a label, great. If not, that’s great too. I personally don’t. But I’d like to hear your perspective of what you think society would be like if we weren’t always pressured to fit a label or stereotype, or fit in some box. I know it’s utopian thinking, but that’s me for ya! 🙂 I know this is kind of a lot to cover in one video; you might have to make it a series! But I appreciate your insights, as always.”
Ah,…my sweet young friend…you bring up “Utopian thinking” here.  And yes, it is quite Utopian! *chuckles*  For there to be a world without labels…that would be something to see.  How would we navigate?  How would I know who my people are?  How would they know me?
I know I’ve written about this before, but there always seems to be more, or new questions or ways to look at it, as in Kim’s request at the beginning of this piece.  She says she doesn’t identify with any particular label.  I would ask her how I was supposed to describe her if I were to describe her to a friend.  How would I identify the kind of woman she is, without using words to do this?
I did another fairly recent blog “Butch Femme Musings” on 9-8-14, (check under Butch Stuff in my archives here).  I take up a lot about labels and verbiage in there, take a quick read of that as well.  I also did the “Bread…an Anthology” vlog on Youtube about this topic.  And I’ve done others.  I’m burning out of ways to do this!  🙂
I don’t care if you are one who uses these convenient labels (i.e. Butch, Femme, Trans*, Bisexual, Granola lesbian, Dyke, Diesel, etc) or not.  These labels have worked their ways through the history of the LGBTQ movement from the very beginning.  They’re not going anywhere any time soon in my humble opinion.
I like labels because they give me a descriptor of the ‘type’ of person I am dealing with in the moment. Although some of these words have varied meaning among even those who identify with them.  My personal idea of Stone Butch, may vary slightly from the next person’s idea of that same sexuality and identity. I see Stone as my sexuality, and Butch as my gender identity.  I don’t see Butch as ‘just a label’, to me it’s WHO I am.  So my full identity…Stone Butch lesbian.  I explain it this way.  I am female bodied, and I prefer only women in my bed, sexually.  I am lesbian, but I am Stone, meaning there are limitations and boundaries with me as far as touch and approach go.  I’m not stone cold, I love to be touched, but I have my off limits zone just as my personal preference.  Other Stones could be more or less like me, some may allow intimate touch after some trust is built, some may not.  THAT is all part of the dance that happens between a Stone Butch and her Femme counterpart.  And every ballad is different.
I think that the labels in the Butch-Femme community in particular (let me take that perspective as it’s the one I know best and can relate to genuinely) are something that we not only use but that we find great comfort in.  Once I could allow myself to identify as Butch it was like the weight of the world left my shoulders.  I finally found a home.  I found a place where I fit, an identity that fit me and a way of life that I had been living all along was finally clarified and quantified to some degree.  And I love that I can see the Femmes in my community; and that they proudly call themselves Femmes.  It’s something I really like, a beautiful Femme woman.  In my mind those Femmes validate me as a Butch.  They are my equal opposites.  They have attitude, and they provoke attitude in me.  The interactions can be very intense.  Personally I really like that.
I do think that you are right that perhaps labels are more indicative to the Butch, Femme and Trans* communities.  We are far from society’s ideals of normal…I don’t even know if your “Utopian” culture of the future will be able to completely blend us in…for everyone to be the same, they would have to look the same, dress similarly, think along similar lines, and have very like goals and ideas.  B O R I N G.    I would rather live in a community structure where I knew who people were and how they identified.  and where there was lots of diversity and no two people were alike.  Perhaps it’s my age, being over 50 I am more settled in my ways of thinking and acting/reacting to things.  It’s so much easier on me to understand a person, and have better interactions with them too, if I know where they relate in the spectrum and/or binary.
Butches suffer the full time visibility issue, and Femmes quite often have to deal with the full time INvisibility situation.  Again equal opposites.  I’m not going to say that Butches are tougher than Femmes, because we all know that isn’t true….I know many fierce fantastic Femmes who are just as mentally tough as any pumped up Butch that I know.
When I was in my 20’s and 30’s I didn’t really care about labels, but as the world becomes a bit more complicated, and as we are doing most of our interactions through technology and on line now, it’s become imperative to me in properly communicating that I know or have an idea of someone’s base identity.  Then I have a better idea of how I will relate to them.  My interactions with my Butch buddies is far different than my manners and better conduct around Femmes.  I have some very good Femme friends who are great for advice when I get myself stumped.  Plus Femmes are generally pretty damned smart…and I think smart is sexy.  My Butch buds I’m not saying we’re not smart, hell we are all brilliant!  But our interactions are more about simpler conversations ….Stop!  I can’t go there or I will lose my Butch card for sure.  Classified stuff is what we talk about.  🙂
The newer words I am hearing a lot of now are Transmasculine and Transbians.  Maybe it’s not “new” but it’s being used now to describe those of us Butch lesbians who are electing to proceed with top surgery (like our FtM brothers) and who are easily confused with Transmen, but still identify as female and lesbian.  I’m sure there will be more evolution of the words and labels that we all use, it’s just how humans are wired….we have to know what to call things, people, ways, ideas.
I realize that some of the label stuff just gets ridiculous.  And that new stuff comes up on a regular basis.  Humans like to cause themselves problems.
There is now even a label for the Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists – TERFs….
And there are word/labels we have pushed aside now and think of as more derogatory – fag, dyke, Tranny – altough I will admit I use them all in my language sometimes.  (I also say fuck a lot.  Heh, whole other topic….btw I was told that intelligent people tend to swear more than stupid people…fact.  Probably because we get so exasperated dealing with the stupid people!  haha)
But to live in a world without labels…I would be interested to see how that will evolve, and no doubt at some point labels may not be necessary, but by then I think the gender boxes on our business forms will be growing in number.   The binary will need some check points – and border guards!  And we don’t even want to THINK about what will have to happen with the public restrooms around the world!
I want to take my own choice to identify as Stone Butch a little further here.  Because that’s how I identify, that my whole life is somewhat guided by the unspoken rules, I dare live as my authentic self, never altering myself to the atmosphere, but making the atmosphere accept me and my presence.  I go about my business daily just being me.  And if the world doesn’t agree with me, that’ fine, just agree to disagree and we’ll all be fine.  For the most part I personally find people to be inherently good, at bare minimum they at least mean well.  I have no problem talking to all kinds of people, and handling situations where I am often misgendered with skillful ease now.  I like just going about my business and not worrying about how people are going to perceive me.  I have a fairly well worn path around the Seacoast area, so many people know me or who I am.  I’ve not encountered much by the way of homophobia around my stomping grounds.  I think in all the years I have been here and back again, that I’ve had maybe 2-3 incidents of idiots.  Or kids yelling slurs at me from their speeding car.  Mostly for me it’s the misgendering thing that happens, and I CAN see what you guys mean when you talk about being treated differently when you are perceived as another guy.  Totally.  I’ve always hung with the boys and bois and they are sort of like my tribe now.  I blend in with them a bit better.
If I have to write anymore about labels and identity markers, binarys and gender identity I think I am going to throw up.  I have enough in this blog (200 posts!) and on my Youtube channel to answer with my perspective on this topic pretty completely.  Perhaps I will search out all of my blogs/vlogs on this topic and edit them down to one manageable article.  Time…it would just take some time.  Rock on readers.  ~MBbetruetoyou

Bromance

So, a Butch buddy of mine was heading south out of Maine when she broke down in Kittery, the next town over.  She called me looking for some help and a temporary place to crash, of course I offered up both like a good Butch.

Today we spent the day running around together like 2 kids in a candy store. We talked about all kinds of ‘just Butch’ stuff, girls, tools, bikes, cars, trucks….oh look a fucking squirrel…..

Yeah, we both apparently have ADD and as we set out to do one thing in town we ended up doing half dozen, including visiting the auto parts store, shopping for new trucks at the garage (also looking for screws there too) and we even hit the pawn shop – MY most favorite place to shop!    It was a true day of Butch bonding and bromance….I love having a buddy around, it’s entertaining and keeps me laughing!

Duct tape & Dykes
Duct tape & Dykes
Lori working on the headlight...neither of us could figure out the clip...we eventually just taped it in.
Lori working on the headlight…neither of us could figure out the clip…we eventually just taped it in.
MainelyButch working on the headlight
MainelyButch working on the headlight
Use the blue tape dude!
Use the blue tape dude!

Stop the Stupid In-Fighting!

“Significant problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking which created them.”  Einstein

I read the most horrible blog yesterday here on WordPress, and was stunned to see such a waste of time and space on here.  I’ll give you the general gist of the blog: it was hateful.  AND the blogger was ranting and raving about how she is hated upon as a woman – which she spells ‘womon‘ for some weird reason unbeknownst to this Butch (but it makes me think of the word worm).  Now, this bloggers blogging name indicates that she may also identify – I use the word lightly – as Butch as well.  Because she ranted and raved about ‘identity’ over and over.  She wants to see the world, and for everyone to see the world in black and white.  That there are only 2 genders that exist – male and female, girl and boy, or man and woman – take your pick of words you like.  While I agree that the world has generally been seen in this very binary way, you are either born with a penis or a vagina and thus you are either boy or girl, I think that humans are evolving – as they should be – and we have the capacity mentally to understand things are not always black and white for everyone.  

I am a trans ally.  I get crap about it from my lesbian counterparts quite often.  I get accused of wanting to be trans myself.  My name and photo has been ripped from my own personal pages and plastered on websites that promote hate against gender variant people. I’ve been called all kinds of names.  Ya know what?  I don’t fucking care.  Anyone who has that kind of hate for me or any other person – male or female, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, gender-queer, gender-variant, etc etc. can kiss my skinny white ass. By pointing at someone and saying you hate them because _____ just remember, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you from your own hand.  Look inside yourself, find love and compassion for all human beings.  That is our common denominator, we are all human beings; beings of flesh, blood, bone and brain, who can think and feel and do and say, etc.  We need to find a common love and respect for each other, and that common respect does not come from wanting to separate individuals because you don’t care to acknowledge their self-chosen identity.  

I have grown into my own identity as Butch.  I don’t see myself as male or female.  I see myself as Butch – a cross between the two.  Does this mean that because I have chosen to self-identify as Butch (like so many others do as well) that I am not worthy because I don’t hold up my female body in some kind of cult style worship?  And because I don’t think I am male, that I am less than either?  No, it means I am a far more complex and deeper thinking person than someone who only sees things one way; who only accepts text book notations of words, definitions and binaries.  

“To choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances is to choose one’s own way”  

                                                     Viktor Frankel,      Holocaust survivor

The outside of every one of us changes over time no matter what.  Some choose to change their bodies to suit how they feel internally, despite being affected daily by society’s gender pressures.  I commend anyone who has this courage.  It’s taken me many years to finally decide that I have the power over my own destiny and over my own body and can do with it what I please. And this doesn’t make me any less of a person than anyone else. 

The name calling, the monikers used to describe one or another ‘clique’ of individuals is just plain stupid….stupid…stupid…and it needs to just stop.  Just stop acknowledging the words, ignore them, and they will fade away.  Don’t pay attention to the haters, the people spewing resentment and ignorance from their mouths or finger tips tapping on keys.  Rembember the old “sticks and stones saying…words can never hurt you – if YOU do not allow them to hurt you.  You are the master of your own ship, commander of your destiny so to speak.  What you allow to affect you will affect you, good or bad.  

Nothing in this world is purely black and white.  For centuries in other cultures there have been 3rd and 4th genders recognized.  Things have changed, they are continuing to change every moment that the earth spins.  Get used to it.  Accept that you can be a part of the change, or you can be left behind to stew in your hateful thoughts.  It’s purely up to you as an individual what you choose to do here.  I say make a change today, stop using words that inflict verbal insult on others, and start respecting them for who they are and respect yourself at the same time; respect who you have evolved and become over your lifetime and realize you are not that same person that you were 10 years ago either.  

The LGBTQ community can just plain be catty.  There’s no way to couch that statement.  Catty as all hell.  Nit picking goes on all over and people love to think that their way is the only way to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or whatever you want, just fill in the blank.  We need to just stop and see each other for a change.  Love one another, know that we are in this battle for equality together, and for reasons!  Until all people are equal, no one is equal.  The in-fighting is just not becoming or very smart on anyone’s part.  We need to be united and we need to learn that our differences can unite us, not let them separate us.  Rock on.

The Proverbial Line

“Everytime that I am misgendered I am reminded that I do not fit; that I am not this.  I am not that.”

 ivan e coyote from “Gender Failure” (on Youtube clip about ivan and Rae Spoon’s Gender Failure performances).

I can relate with many of ivan’s stories and have all but the very latest (which IS on order!) of ivan’s books.  I am sure that most of you know who ivan e. coyote is but here’s the short, sweet bio from their page:

Ivan Coyote was born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. An award-winning author of six collections of short stories, one novel, three CD’s, four short films and a renowned performer.    http://www.ivanecoyote.com/

My chosen community is the LGBTQ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer -and yes, you may add several other alphabetical letters to it as well, but for brevity here I will stick with LGBT for today.

I have been doing a lot of reading of articles on blogs and websites; in such places as HuffingtonPost.com, Autostraddle.com, in WordPress blogs and other online sources lately.  Most of what I have been reading has been related to gender identity, sexual identity, transgender struggles, and things written by and for the LGBT community and it’s allies.  These topics interest me very much as I can relate to most of what I read in some way or another, and they provoke more thought and inspire me to do more writing myself.

I love to write.  I have written and have been passionate about the writing process since I learned to write as a child.  It’s my passion; my home.  One day I hope to be brave enough to start submitting some of my writings for publication – which has always been my dream.  Writing is a creative art to me, although I write about things that I have experienced, and to explore my own views and opinions about things.  I write about things I am interested in and/or concerned about; things that have an impact on my life, or the lives of people that I love and care for in this world.  In recent months I’ve let my fear of rejection and critical feedback prevent me from pursuing my dream – and often from just simply writing a blog about something that strikes a nerve in me.  I have never felt that my writing was “good enough” or that people would care about what I had to say in my articles.  And I have always been a bit shy about letting people read my personal musings or know my authentic thoughts, views, and the stories of my life and how I became who I am today.

I am inspired today to write this because of all of the reading that I have done over the past week and due to my personal gut response to much of what I have read.  I feel some responsibility as an individual in the LGBT community, to add some of my thoughts and reactions to the articles – and comments left on them by others.  I am concerned about the world, and about my community; about friends and loved ones of mine that also may have read some of the serious hate and negativity that I so uncomfortably read.  I don’t feel that I can just continue to ignore the hot-bed topics that affect me, people I love and my beloved community, by continuing this self-censorship and not saying what I think and feel here.

I have remained fairly silent out of my own fear of the comment gremlins and of exposing myself to the discomfort that I am sure the main writers of the articles that I have read – have gallantly exposed themselves to so publicly.  Yes, they are the creative warriors in my opinion.  They took up their battle shields and stepped into the ring of fire to stand tall for what they believe are their truths.  They all are seeing the situations and battles going on around gender identity, trans identity, gender equality, sexuality and – even though I am sure they have also read some of the hateful stuff that I have read – they were all brave and courageous enough to stand their ground and let their own truths be known. They voiced their own opinions and laid their own vulnerability on the proverbial line.  I seriously respect those writers, even if I do not completely agree with them all of the time, I do very much continue to respect their courage and their rights to be heard.

So much goes on in our world every single day.  The media explodes with a new stories of discrimination, bigotry, ignorance and hate crimes so often now that I think some of us are starting to become numb to the reality of these things; almost to the point of accepting them as “just part of life in 2014” now.  And I personally find that incredibly sad and upsetting.  Those who are speaking out and who are defending our rights, and often even themselves by stating their own views and intentions as individuals, do so with the highest risk of personal attack online by hate groups, hate filled individuals, religious conservatives, prominent political figures and even from individuals and organizations who are supposed to be part of our own LGBT community!  (I am sure the list of attackers is much longer, but I am just listing some of the more visible here)  THAT is why I am compelled to speak out myself, and put my own voice out there too.  Those who write from their hearts and experiences inspire me and I think that every person deserves to – and should – speak out about things that affect them; about their own personal experiences, preferences and no one should have to just accept those assumptions that other people have (or want) to put upon us as LGBT people – regardless of which letter one chooses to stand under.

“It’s not the critic who counts.  It’s not the man who points out where the strong man stumbles or where the doer of good deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the person who’s actually IN the arena; whose face is marred with blood and sweat and dust who – at the best – in the end knows the triumph of high achievement and who – at worst – if he fails he fails daring greatly.”

Theodore Roosevelt speech “Man in the Arena”

I am a Butch Lesbian, very visible, and very proud.  I am often misgendered, and am also often reminded that I do not quite fit into the more mainstream Lesbian community.  My presentation is, and always has been, very masculine; very androgynous.  I grew up in southern Maine, the eldest of 5, my parents were very young when I entered the picture; but they provided a nurturing household full of love and proper lessons that would carry all of us into adulthood with good ethics and fine manners.  Growing up I knew that I was Lesbian as far back as I can remember – although I didn’t know what it was “called” until I heard the word “Lesbian” at the age of about 12 years.  Somehow I knew it wasn’t going to be good if other people knew this about me – ever.  So I learned to keep my secret very well hidden until I left home bound for Army basic training at 18.

I was a serious tomboy growing up.  Mowing the lawn shirtless until I was about 10 was my favorite thing to do.  Pretending I was a boy was my other very well kept secret.  Somehow I made it to adulthood without anyone ever knowing my feelings; my sexual preference.  By the time I reached early adulthood I was hearing the “you should dress more like a girl” thing quite often.  I hated dresses and broke out in hives at the mere thought of nylons – which were popular in the late 70’s thru the early 80’s.  I managed to escape home for the Army, and don that uniform – same for men or women – with much pride.  I came out early in my Army service although it was against regulations at that time, I managed to complete my service commitment without being “outed” and kicked out of the military – which would have completely ruined my family relationship with my father at that time, so it was a good thing I was never discovered!  (I do have lots of funny stories about almost getting caught!)

I tried to disown or hide my gender identity for many years.  I was far more comfortable with being “just a lesbian” than with being identified as “Butch” or “Dyke” (both were seen as derogatory words in the 80’s).  Although it was pretty obvious that I was Butch, I tried to “act” otherwise and hated being referred to as Butch back then.

It wasn’t until around 2005 that I finally came to grips with my gender identity, and started to relax into my authentic self as a Butch Lesbian.  I spent many years agonizing over it; and it caused me much emotional trauma at times.  I never quite “fit” anywhere in the gender spectrum, let alone the Lesbian social scene.  I tried “softening” up my look by growing my hair longer, wearing more jewelry and even wearing some girly clothing – generally shirts, never did I give up my guys jeans!!!

Before the computer and internet the LGBT world was very much smaller.  Our chat rooms were dimly lit gay bars, usually in very seedy locations.  We would hide our cars -never parking “near” the bar for fear of being “discovered” or questioned by anyone about “if” we were “in that bar”.  Even the clothing that some of us would leave our houses in (on our way to the bar) would be discarded and our “bar clothes”, which often would be uncovered in the trunk of the car, usually along with a bag of pot and pack of rolling papers!  My Drag Queen friends would hurriedly apply make-up in my rearview mirror, smacking lipstick onto Kleenex tissues to remove the excess.  Those were the good ‘ole days for MainelyButch, the days of no computer networking.  We drove cars without seatbelts and club drugs and all the while thinking that we were seriously “hiding” our true LGBT selves inside the concrete walls of the Paradox Club.  We had no cell phones.  We used back-door entry ways and sported hickeys covered by a half inch of liquid foundation make up the next morning.  We partied, danced, huffed Poppers, and had sex with wild abandon in the most unlikely of places sometimes.  We had some damned good, rowdy, but loving times.  Face-to-face was how you “met” people, made dates, and had sex…there was no keyboarding, computer monitors, or sexting in that world at that time.

….then September 24, 1982 came and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control in DC) used the word “AIDS” for the first time. Although HIV was not officially declared the “virus that causes AIDS” until May 1986 and On September 17, 1986 President Ronald Reagan mentions AIDS publicly for the first time, and many of our previously happy worlds came to abrupt halts in shock, that soon turned to fear and anger…lots of guys were getting sick, dying and NOW the President had “SAID” the word, and our community was completely changed forever.   I shall save that part of my life experience for future writing, as it is a very big piece of the puzzle of who I am today.  And it is an important part of tragic history of the LGBT community, and deserves it’s own blogging space.

As the internet became more and more popular and I sort of became immersed in the techno-geekery of it, I began to explore gender and all of it’s variants.  I found Butch books, cd’s and with Youtube came short videos – of Butches similar to me!   My comfort level with my gender presentation; with my androgyny and my more masculine preferences, began to feel more “normal” to me and much, much more nurturing to my inner self.  I devoured whatever I could find pertaining to Butchness and my more male presentation.  I questioned myself repeatedly about my possibly being Trans, FtM, but I could not find that comfort in the thought of being a man that I found in being a Butch.  I read the book “Butch is a Noun” by S. Bear Bergman and then I knew my true identity as a Butch. I love that book and I owe a world of thanks to Bear Bergman for writing it and sharing those experiences and views with me.

Now the internet is just part of all of our daily lives.  It’s our connection to the world beyond our front door.  Most of us rely on the web in some way or another to get us through our days, whether we are working or playing.  Us writers retired our old typewriters – which are now considered collector’s items – and gleefully adopted the “delete” button, allowing us to all throw away the white out and erasers!  The day I discovered Microsoft Word my entire life turned up-side down and changed.  I could now write for hours without tearing paper out of the roller and screaming at the typewriter for making mistakes.  I could “save” my work and password protect it so that I didn’t have to “hide” my journals or the folders full of typewritten pages from whoever I was afraid would find it and (gasp!) read it!    Yes, the internet and computers changed the entire world.  Things now move at lightening speed. Hell, by the time I finish this particular piece most of it will either be out-dated or I will have encountered more online that provokes further furious typing across my laptop keyboard!

One thing that continued to evolve and grow is me, myself.  Since I have settled nicely into accepting – even celebrating – my Butch self I have been a far happier individual.  I enjoy my Butch masculinity, the hair on my legs and my deep, raspy voice which used to make me very self-conscious during my years of denying my authenticity.  I only wish that I had found the path to my true feelings and allowed myself to just BE fabulously Butch, long before I did.  I realize that I could have saved myself a ton of emotional pain, and from the self-abuse that I put my body through while I was busy hating it. I am glad that today I understand myself, and I’m proud of who I am; who I have become since emerging from the tunnel of shame and insecurity.

In my personal writing, blogging and vlogging  ( Http://youtube.com/mainelybutch  ) I am publicaly stepping into the ring, or onto a stage, where my own fear of the critics and haters – of their comments and negative remarks, insults and hateful stuff “inspires” me to try to stay “small” in my own visibility sometimes.  I don’t like this at all.  It’s a form of self-censorship and defeats my purpose in writing/vlogging I think.  It makes ME reconsider what I post/write/say or film and that’s just not right in my opinion.  I hate feeling that way, it feels like I am somehow ashamed of myself and my own creative work.  And as a very out and loud Butch I already feel the vulnerability of my own gender presentation, and there is nothing more vulnerable than creating something; putting it out there in the world using our writing craft, and having it attacked and torn apart by those who don’t have the bravery of their own to take up the topic and let THEIR own words voice their opinion publicly for perhaps that same kind of attack; and being told that they aren’t “good enough” or that they are “wrong” in their views.

I try to be aware of my audience and I will even invite the critics  to take a seat.  Just know that while I see you and I hear you, I am not going to be threatened – by negative, argumentative, hateful or hostile comments – into not saying my piece anymore; nor will I be harangued into not being allowed to speak my own truths, and give my views and opinions as well.  You are welcome to come in, but I am not interested in your feedback unless you are in the ring of fire as well; putting your writings and opinions out there for us to all better understand you and where you are coming from with your comments and remarks, and that you are not just sitting on the sidelines making snarky remarks and belittling writers for their views, opinions, choices and/or for who they are and what they may represent with their words.  Particularly those who have the courage and are brave enough to make themselves visible and vulnerable in this community discussion, knowing that they are opening themselves up for possible attack by haters and nay-sayers.

If you have alternate opinions, morally differing views then I invite you to take your keyboard and begin your own piece on what you think of all of this inner-community policing and shaming that has been the topic of many of these blogs – mine included.  I am interested in hearing as many views and serious conversation on this as possible, and while I have my own personal thoughts on most of it, that doesn’t mean that I cannot be swayed to see something from another angle and rearrange a piece of the puzzle in front of me.  I am open minded, and while I am opinionated I am not without the ability to change my mind.

Everyone has a story inside of them.  And each person on this Earth has a unique identity – unique to them and them alone.  There are stereotypes about all kinds of people, places and things.  There are as many labels as there are cans or people to put them on!  Some like them, and some don’t, it’s personal choice; individual preference and no one should just accept someone else’s definition of them, but should create their identity and present it as a masterpiece to the world; creating an identity that they are personally proud to own and wear with courage in the face of fear!  Your identity doesn’t have to consist of a “label” or any kind of “stereotype” – all the world asks is that your identity be authentically YOU.

So, on this rainy day today I have been inspired to dive back into my more serious writing and to improve this blog and it’s contents.  I also want to make sure that fewer and fewer young Butches and Gender Queer people get sucked into that hole of blackness that brings them shame and sadness concerning who they are, where they come from, how they started life, where they are today in that life, or anxiety about their families, friends, and people who love them.  We can all learn from one another, young and old alike; black and white; gay and straight, rich or poor…we all bleed red and cry tears of water and salt.  We are all human beings who have feelings and who feel pain sometimes more often than pleasure.  By keeping open minds and tender hearts we can treat one another with a sort of identity respect that previous generations did not have the opportunity to have for themselves.  But we do need to remember that they fought the battles that brought us to the very place that our community is right now.  They have earned our respect and our gratitude – and our apologies in many ways as well.

“Right now, the endless flap over the gender community’s language is a hot topic, with RuPaul’s televisedshemale and tranny games highlighting the question of who gets to say what in our balkanized communities. The language cops, in this case conservative trans women who object to their use under any circumstance, want tranny and other such words completely banned. I understand the arguments against the insult, but I don’t think these torch-wielders realize that transsexual women do not own the experience of gender crossing or the language created around it. Both the experience and the language have a long and hard-fought history across many groups; our history books are full of these stories. In seeking to blot out our internal language of historical words like tranny, the thought police are essentially burning books, one word at a time.”  Calpernia Sarah Addams, The Advocate

http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/04/17/op-ed-burning-books-one-word-time

This excerpt is  from one of the articles that I read in the Advocate today, by Calpernia Sarah Addams.  The full article link is well worth your time to click and read!  The comments from her critics and from her allies too, are numerous and show the passion within our community surrounding the discussion of Gender and the way some try to be the “word or thought police” telling others that they cannot “use” certain words, or that these words are insulting to some.  As Calpernia says, our history shows no one group owning the experience or the language created around gender crossing.  We can’t just bleep out words because they offend – if we did that half the dictionary would be blot-outs and page removals!  We need to be sensitive to our audience and to the very real possibility that there have been experiences had by some that have turned certain words into reminders of hate, bigotry and violence.

Of course, I have certain words that I have chosen not use in my own personal speech or writing vocabulary, because I find them to be offensive myself, and thus choose not to use them.  My vocabulary certainly isn’t devoid of offensive words though, as those who follow me on Youtube can surely attest!  I can cuss like a trooper, and am not always “Politically Correct” but I do try to be “emotionally correct” and not attack anyone’s personal choices.  I like to believe that I do a pretty good job at showing human decency and respect for people as unique beings, regardless of their differences from me, or their differing opinions, views or what I may see as skewed moral compasses.  Everyone should be heard, so that are ALL able to learn from one another; understand our differences better, and build a better, more compassionate, loving and inclusive community.