Butch…Trans…A Conversation

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?

Peace! ~MainelyButch

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.

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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. 

Butch Christmas Stuff


ITs common around this time of year to hear partners of Butches – usually in my experience our femme counterparts – ask what to get their badass Butch for Christmas. Of course if they are asking for something specific  or special then your job should be pretty easy.  You just have to figure out if it’s a one gift exchange or if you have in mind maybe an assortment of smaller gifts which will take her to open on Christmas morning and will be much more exciting and pleasing for about any Butch I know.  Maybe you just do stockings filled with little gifts and maybe some of their favorite candy.  Whatever you choose as your tradition is cool…but make dampened sure that your Butch partner is on that same page!  One thing that we tend to hate are surprises.  Don’t say you only want one gift and then present your Butch with several from you.  Because we do listen at this time of year.  We secretly want to please our girls and make the move us more.  So make sure that your Butch knows what you want too!  
Ok now I like the multiple present kind of Christmas if possible.  And I love just thoughtful small gifts.  I’d rather get things that I need and will use or wear rather than get something I won’t use and don’t really need or want.  

Here’s a suggestion list of small gifts you are sure to please just about any Butch with a at Christmas.  Of course this is just a list of things that I am ways happy to receive, but I am a typical Butch with typical masculine tastes. I like to get lots of little things that I use everyday. so here’s my list I think you’ll find it might be helpful in making your Butch happy this Christmas.

  • Pocket knives — every Butch lives a good pocket knife or 3.  
  • Ties and belts.– just be sure you know your Butch’s tastes in these kind of articles, like I like black belts with my black shoes and brown belts with my brown shoes. And I like my ties to be fairly thin. if you know your partner well then  you’ll know what she likes.
  • Good pens — we can never have too many good pens especially as writers. if you want to make it extra-special have her name engraved on it or a nickname.   Like I’d love to have a pen that said “mainelybutch”
  • Watch or bracelet — just remember don’t make it too girly we like thicker things, heavier things.  Rings are cool too.  Just make sure you know what type of metal to shop for. I E. Does she like gold or silver?
  • Her favorite cologne or aftershave.  Just make sure she hasn’t got a full bottle in back up.  We don’t wear much of this stuff and usually only on special occasions.
  • Good hair gel.  I recommend “Sebastian Liquid Steel”  It is awesome stuff and spikes up a crew cut like nobody’s business!
  • Small electronics like a wireless speaker or a nice set of wireless headphones.
  • Hobby gear.  If you are significant other likes to fish why not buy her a fishing license for this next season. you can generally get them at any sporting good store in your local area. If she likes video gaming then maybe the latest video game she’s been raving about would be the ticket.If she likes to ski for half the lift ticket for the two of you for a nice weekend would be a good present.  You get the idea you can pander to her interests. 
  • Then there is ways clothing that we need yearly to react the stained or worn out old stuff like new plain white t-shirts, boxer briefs, and good socks.  Personally I always like that stuff.
  • Good hard bottom slippers.  Just in case we have to run outside and chase the dog.early in the morning before we get our boots on.!
  • Gift certificates — to the barber shop, movies, bookstore, Sears (they have nice tools), sandwich shop, coffee shop, etc.  

So that’s my simple list of little things that will please just about any Butch on Christmas morning.  It’s really not that hard or expensive to make us smile.  

I hope this helps some of you as you go about your Christmas shopping.  And if you are Butch let me know what I missed here!  I’m sure this is,a list that can be expanded in many ways.   PEACE. ~MB

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

 

 

 

Authenticity

Authenticity comes in many forms.  Lesboi wrote recently about Authenticity and asked what it is for us.  I found their post to be extremely timely, for I am one who tries to be my authentic self always, and Lesboi brings up some very specific points about it:

This morning I found myself watching this video by uppercaseCHASE1 about how being your authentic self isn’t just about being trans and it got me thinking pretty hard about what living an “authentic life” really means for me.  I talk about living authentically a lot.  It’s a huge motivator for my transition.  It’s what pushes me through the hard stuff about all of this.  But, as Chase points out, authenticity is bigger than just being trans.  There’s so much more to each of us than our gender and our sexuality.  There are political beliefs, personal preferences in clothing, books, movies, music, chores, where we live, who we live with, how we spend money, how we do our hair, how we speak, what cell phone we carry, etc. etc. etc.  The list is too huge to list it all.  All of these things, plus our history and our future goals and dreams help to make us who we are. -Lesboi, Another Authenticity Post

This says so much about how I feel.  Being authentic is important to me, it’s part of being honest about myself, and to myself. There were times in my life where being my “authetic” self was more dangerous to me, as being Butch was a dangerous way of life during those times. So one had to “tone it down” a bit, not being one’s authentic self, in order to not stir the pot too hard and cause an upset. Or better said to not get your ass beat to hell for being too bold as to be your authentic self.

I don’t think that being one’s authentic self has only to do with our sexuality, gender identity or personal preferences because – as Lesboi points out and as uppercaseCHASE1 points out in his video linked by Lesboi here – there is a LOT more that goes into our personal make up than just those superficial things.   It’s not about how Butch, femme, trans or gay one is.  It’s not about being enough of one thing or another, it’s about being enough for yourself.  It’s about being authentic to yourself and living life for yourself and no one else.  When you are doing that then I believe you are being truly authentic.

We’ve talked alot about being “enough” in our vlogs and blogs. People want to set these rules and guidelines for being a certain way, i.e. trans, butch, femme, genderqueer, etc.  They want to define the words and set all these boundaries behind them that makes people think they need to be a certain way to be “enough” to claim their own identities. When you are being your authentic self you don’t need to live up to anyone else’s expectations or determining factors.  You make your own rules; set your own boundaries and live the best life you can for yourself.  That’s being authentic to yourself.

Being one’s authentic self doesn’t have to revolve around any one specific group, like for Chase it seems his experience has it’s roots for him in his Transgender identity.  For me when I speak of my authentic self I see the strong Butch that I am.  For the fantastic femmes out there I am sure it’s got some to do with their – well – fantastic femme-ness!!!  Whatever being your authentic self has it’s “center seed” in for you, is just for you to decide!  That is part of being one’s authentic self!

My own version of my authentic self, when I think about it, is somewhat about me being able to be out and proud, and Butch.  But that’s only a small part of my true self.  True self to me has to do with many other things as well; it’s in how i treat other people and how I expect to be treated in return.  It’s in my honesty and my loyalty.  It’s in my fearlessness about being who I am and my expectation of just being respected for that.

So that’s my take on it for now.  What does being one’s “authentic self” mean to you?  Where does that authenticity show up most in your life?

 

 

 

 

 

Very Tough Question…

Sorry if posted multiple times
What do you think of trans men and trans women forcing themselves into and eventual shut down- the owners gave up – of the Michigan Womyn’s Festival?

I think lesbian born women have the legal right to exclude anyone who is not a womyn born womyn without facing harrassment, legal threats, to exclude those who are not.

I got this question in my comments recently and wanted to just touch on this a bit.  I’m sure my thought on it will be controversial no matter what. Why?  Because there is no really right or wrong solution to this issue. It’s really a touchy subject no matter how you look at it.

The world has changed.  We now have all kinds of organizations of exclusivity that are being challenged with similar situations as the Womyn’s Music Fesival (WMF) was caught up in with the trans question.

For those who don’t know the very basics it seems that the organizers of the WMF were faced with the question of who is “woman” and who is not.  Since the WMF was supposed to be exclusively for women, some thought that transwomen should be excluded from that definition because they were not women-born-women. It’s very confusing, see?  Now there is huge argument on both fronts.  And then there was the question of if transmen should be included since they were born women…and the confusion deepens.  Finally after fighting legal and ethical battles of huge proportion over this for several years the WMF organizers canned the festival out of sheer frustration I believe.  That’s the situation the commenter speaks of above in a nutshell. Believe me it was much deeper and more technical than that.  It was basically a fight over who and what constituted a “woman” and who/what did not.  The festival boasted a safe place for all women to join together in community for a week every year.  Some felt that that safe space was violated by trans people from both genres.  It was an ugly fight and it’s a very difficult subject.

This same sort of situation is playing out across the world with organizations like the Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts and other gender specific organizations. Some girls want to be Boy Scouts, some transboys want to be Boy Scouts, etc. etc.  Do they have a “legal” right to exclude people based upon gender or genitalia?  Who knows.  I am not a lawyer, and thus can’t speak to the specifics of legality of any of it.  I can only give my opinion.

I never attended the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.  I only read and heard about it. So I don’t even speak from experience of being there.  I was always under the impression that it was a lesbian festival of sorts.  That was always the impression I got at least.  I wonder if they segragated it based upon sexual preference?

To me excluding people is not much different than segregation. And we segregate constantly everywhere.  We do it by color, race, sexual orientation, religion, social status, and a huge range of other things.  We do it everywhere, all the time. It’s sad. But I also think it’s part of human nature in some ways.  Like people gravitate toward their own kind.  I know that I would be most comfortable out camping with a bunch of Butch and Femme lesbians – which I consider my own “kind” in a way – than I would with a bunch of straight women talking about dick and men. I just would.  It’s all about comfort; what I am most comfortable doing and being around.  And I am entitled to my comfort.  Would I join a club that excluded transwomen/men?  No.  I do not believe that I would.

I bet that at the WMF that people segregated by types/kinds.  I bet Butches hung out with other Butches, that Femmes with other Femmes and that every type of woman had a group that she associated with more than others.  It’s all in the comfort level of the individual.  Diversity is great, but let’s face it, given the choice we all choose and become loyal to our own type.

Now I don’t know about the WMF and what happened there but I know there were some huge arguments around the internet about it all.  I can see basis for argument from all standpoints.  Who is right is still not clear, nor do I believe it ever will be clear.  It’s sad that a solution could not be reached that suited everyone so that the WMF could have continued and could have remained that safe space to express and experience the various types of women that we all are.

The specific exclusion of trans people seems to be blatant transphobia to me.  Not being trans I can only imagine how that would feel.  I can say that if I was a transguy I would not be inserting myself into an exclusively female venue.  Why would a man want to be at a women’s festival?   But if I were a transwoman…I would want to be recognized as a woman and would expect to be included.

These are just my thoughts on the whole thing.  I don’t know the answer to your question, commenter, it’s a tough one.  I wish we could all just get along and have one big camping festival that included everyone!

 

 

 

 

My Butch Musings Today

I’m not sure exactly how to write about this, or what I want to say, so we’ll see how it goes as I type on here.  Let me say that I am just me, and these are my personal thoughts and opinions.  I know there are many varying views, and I don’t know that any particular one of them is “right” or “wrong”.  And let me say up front that I love and support my trans friends and allies, and I always will.

Caitlyn Jenner.  She has been the woman of the week in the news, her doing the cover of Vanity Fair, and doing television interviews and stories about her coming out, and she’s been talked about in many of the blogs that I have been reading too.  Friends have asked me what I think about it all. because who better to ask than the local Butch lesbian about this? ha!  I think it’s comical that when anything happens in the news concerning any kind of LGBT issue that people come off with the strangest questions to us just because they see us standing under the umbrella of LGBT.

It’s been a strange couple of weeks watching as Bruce Jenner disappears and Caitlin Jenner emerges on the cover of Vanity fair…and sort of as a sex goddess of a kind.  Annie Lebowitz’s photography is amazing, and I am glad it was she who got to shoot these photos, good choice Caitlin.  Coupled with your association with names of fame, from Kardashain to Jenner, from Bruiser to Caitlin, the choice to reveal Caitlin as this impeccably groomed prima donna cannot be outdone, in my opinion.

I’m not sure how I feel about all of this.  That is my answer to my questioning straight* friends. I give straight the asterisk because I am not even sure about that anymore!  What defines straight now?  It’s all become so confusing, all of the terms and words have changed, all of the prerequisites seem to have changed too.

What does it mean to be a woman now?  How is it defined?  And who gets to define it?  I used to think that being a woman is shaped by a certain kind of experience living as a gendered individual, among a community (women) who share those accrued experiences, both positive and sadly many times negative.  It’s always been a sort of uphill battle to survive as a woman in this world of inequality.  And now it seems that there is some re-defining force at work that is trying like hell to change everything.  I’m just not sure what to think anymore.  I guess I have many more conversations to have and reading to be done to figure some of this out.

I do realize that I am walking a thin, thin line between female and male I know.  I am often mis-gendered as a male and it doesn’t bother me.  When I am gendered properly as a female I know instantly that I have taken second place somehow. Women have always been made to feel inferior to men.  It’s been that way since caveman days.  It’s a weird feeling, and one I struggle with daily many times.  Some days it pisses me off, and some days I don’t really care one way or the other.  I am just me in this world, just me.

I read and watch on TV all of this stuff about “living in the wrong body”.  This is something, that as a non-trans person I could and can never understand.  I don’t know what that feeling is like, nor do I claim to know as I have never felt that I was in the wrong body, but I did not like my breasts, so I had them reduced drastically.  My chest is flat now, and my body feels right to me.  I am a woman.  I suffered all of the things that women suffer through gender experience, including the push to be more “feminine” at times.  I never wanted to be male, but I never liked being “feminine” either.  As someone said recently somewhere that I read “nail polish wears off”.  This sounds weird to me, because I think that who one IS doesn’t wear off.  I look into the mirror every morning and I see a masculine Butch woman, raised female by experience and culture.  I see the scars of living in this female body; one that belongs to me, and is unquestionably the right one for me.  The scars of living in the wrong body are more invisible to people, and I am not sure what that looks like.

I look at the photos of Caitlin now and it’s amazing.  What can money not do? According to the photographs I have seen she is strikingly beautiful.  From the perfect hair to the perfect waist and ample feminine cleavage.  It’s hard not to be jealous in a way, she has achieved that perfect female/feminine body; the body that she wants and feels comfortable in from what I am reading/hearing.  This is something many women work a lifetime to get through a variety of sometimes wild and occasionally means (i.e. botox and illegally performed surgeries/procedures).  Caitlin chose professionally treatments and surgeries to bring out her feminine side.  I, myself, chose surgical procedure to be less feminine.  Funny what we will all do to achieve our goals.  And how vastly our goals are from one another in this world.  Everyone has their own agenda and desires, and everyone should be able to act on those desires if they are able.  I feel lucky that I was able to get my chest surgery done, and I always feel happy for other Butches who get it done and like me feel it was the best thing they ever did to improve their body image and divert some dysphoria.  And I feel the pain for those who want it done and can’t yet get there.

Now these are all just my musings; thoughts and opinions of a very socially isolated Butch.  I wish I had someone who could explain many of my questions to me, and help me better understand not only this but myself as well.

Jamie (A boy and her dog) recently attended a conference (see blog) and speaks about this social isolation.  I don’t know why some of us socially isolate.  I know for me it’s partially because I now live in an area where there is no real LGBT community to speak of.  Those that are here are partnered up, settled down and don’t really interact with one another in any type of organized atmosphere, i.e. there are no gay bars, no clubs and no recreation centers or LGBT organized events.  For the first time there is going to be a Gay Pride festival here at the end of this month, WOW!  That is actually exciting to me, and I am sure to many others in my area.  I am planning to go, and I know I will run into many people that I used to see years back at the bars (when there were some here!) and on the softball fields (lesbian cruising spots). If U-haul were smart they would run a special on local moving trucks for the following week!  I wonder if they ever considered having a booth at the Gay Pride festivals?  Now, that’s a funny thought!  (hahahaha!)

At the end of the blog Jamie says:  “I need to stop apologizing for identifying as both butch and transgender. I need to stop apologizing for not having it all figured out..”   This line caught my thought process by surprise.  I do this too.  And I need to stop and realize that maybe no one has it “all figured out” ever.  We are all just works in progress.  Maybe we are all just like worker ants building and rebuilding ourselves daily; doing what has to be done.  Everyone’s brand of Butch is different, and as the world turns it seems to get more and more difficult to decipher where the lines get drawn sometimes.

I have actually been working on my own social isolation alot in recent weeks.  And have reached out to quite a few friends lately.  I am blessed to have some awesome people in my life, that’s for sure.  I’m pleased that I can call them friends and that I feel valued by them.  I’m going to join a couple of them for Boston’s Pride this Saturday, which should be loads of fun!  I’m sure I will come back with many photos and a story or two to tell next week.  I am going to meet my friends in Amesbury and take the T in to the city, that way no searching for parking or looking for the “lost car” at 1 am when we are trying to find our way out of the city!  I’ve done that before, it’s not fun!  haha!

~Peace~

~MB