Tomboy to Butch…My Story

Anyone else relate to being a tomboy?  Being trans and being a tomboy / gender non-conforming child often go hand in hand, but often the two are mutually separate…     a question posed by janitorqueer on their blog.

Growing up I constantly fought with my parents over my clothing choices, they wanted me to dress in girl clothes and I wanted boy clothing. From as early as I can remember, probably about 4-5 yrs old, I would always go for the more boyish looking items in my clothing…the little jeans, the coveralls and t’shirts.  In the summer it was cut off shorts and as boyish a shirt as I could find.  Yes, I was a tomboy for sure.  From the very beginning of my conscious existence I wanted nothing to do with girl things, period.

My parents made me keep long hair until I was about 7.  The summer of that year we moved to Troy New York to an old farm and Mom took us to get hair cuts, I was allowed to cut my hair to a pixie cut….as one can imagine, this did wonders for my ego, as well as my tomboy status.  I was in heaven with that short hair cut.

Was I aware at the time that I was a tomboy?  I’m not sure of that.  I definitely knew that I felt different from the other girls. I didn’t feel like one of them, like a girl at all.  I felt more like a boy, and wanted to be a boy for a long time.  Maybe I never out grew it even.  I loved hanging out with the boys, doing the boy activities like playing Army or cowboys and Indians, apple wars (our farm was a former orchard) and building tree forts.  I could throw a baseball from center field to home plate with no problem, and did I love my sandlot baseball games!!!  I was also leader of the pack so to speak, I would step forward to organize games and activities like a boss.

I think as time went on and I advanced through school grades my tomboy image became more apparent to those around me.  Kids don’t gender each other negatively as much.  But once they begin to form opinions and take on their parents’ prejudices around the age of 10, things change.  It was around then that I really began to notice that my dressing attire was more boyish than the other girls.  I always knew that I was Gay anyway, even way back when I was small my little fantasies were of me and other girls, never of boys.  I would secretly pretend I was going to marry a girl someday.  And my little games of house, where I was always the husband, always included kissing the girl who was my pretend wife.

High school was rough for me.  I was well liked, don’t let me mislead you on that, but I was different.  I was a rough, tough and tumble sort of kid.  I never grew past 5’4″ which I hit my Sophomore year of high school.  I hated girls clothing; loathed it especially bras.  I didn’t like the fact I was developing breasts, and they were a pain in the ass.  My father noticed my dressing habit and insisted that I wear dresses to school 4 days a week (this actually happened in 8th grade), and I could wear pants on Friday if they were girly pants.  I went ballistic as you might imagine.  I even took it so far as to run away from home for 3 days, living in the woods by our information center and having friends bring me food – little bastards also set me up to be captured on the 3rd day!  I wanted to wear jeans, I wanted to dress my own way.  If I had had my choice back then (late 70’s) I would have shopped exclusively in the boys department.

I started to run with a more seedy crowd about then.  I started to smoke cigarettes and pot.  I had dabbled with cigarettes that I used to steal from my parents’ supplies before that, but in high school I started buying my own packs.  I had my own money because I got my first job at 14, my freshmen year, at a small take-out food place and I worked as much as I could. I also started to notice girls, and had several “girl crushes” along the way.

Having my own money source changed things considerably.  It felt good.  My parents were not rich, they were struggling, working class people, trying hard to raise 5 kids and keep the house they owned in one piece.  My Dad was the epitome of manhood.  He worked his ass off at usually 2 jobs, night and day, and was never home.  I was personally petrified of the man.  He had a temper and his lectures were harsh.  Never did he strike us kids, but we were always afraid of his wrath, his restrictions, and his authority.  My mother would say “wait til your father gets home.” And we would literally beg and cry at her not to tell him of our infractions. And my mother was the ultimate working mom, somehow always there when we got home from school days after working all morning.

So, anyway, having my own money around then changed things because I could fund my own growing bad habits, pay for gas for friends cars, and buy some of my own clothes — clothes that I wanted!  It was around this time that I bought my first pair of boots, shit kickers we called them.  They were brown suede hiking boots with red laces.  Thus began my boot fetish.  I was never again without a good pair of boots.  And there were the hip hugger jeans, that my parents hated and I was forbidden to wear to school.  Still I could not wear denium to school, that would last through my senior year.  I was allowed to wear corduroys, which were styled just like Jeans and made by Levi’s even.  I would frequently sneak a pair of jeans to school in my backpack and change before I got to school grounds.

In High School I was in charge of making it to school on my own.  I had 3 choices of getting there.  I could ride the bus with the little kids and get dropped off at the high school, or I could get a ride from my friend Vernon in his cool brown Chevy pick up truck, or I could ride my 10 speed bicycle.  Walking wasn’t an option, as it was several miles to the school and I would never have made it on time.  Although there were many days that I walked home from school after detention period. I usually skipped the bus option, because I could ride with Vern and get stoned on the way in.  The 10 speed was my second choice, and I used to revel in the ride.  It was great first thing in the morning, as the cool sea air made the ride pretty pleasant.  The freedom to be myself was slowly coming to me.

In school I was a troubled kid.  I made B grades though, and some A’s.  I was running with the wild crowd though.  I did try playing sports for a while, but I was a gawky kid.  I didn’t feel like I fit in with the jock crowd at all.  Plus the locker room was a VERY uncomfortable place for me as I was super body conscious.  I gave up sports my sophomore year after the season for softball ended.  The rest of high school I just concentrated on trying to make it through to 18 so I could flee this small town that I lived in.  I tried dating boys, but I hated it because I knew it wasn’t me.  I discovered that the store near the ball field was owned by two “lesbians”….first time I heard that word I knew I was one of them.

I had encouraging teachers at school who knew I was prone to trouble and who seemed to care and tried to keep me busy.  My art teacher encouraged me to love my art work and my English teacher pushed me to write and helped me develop a passion for writing.  My shop teacher loved that I loved wood and metal shop so much that I never skipped his class!  Algebra was an epic fail for me, but consumer math I excelled at and got straight A’s…I could work with accounting but not with X=Y crap.

At this point my typical dressing style was corduroys (per parents) or jeans, a button down shirt and a dark brown corduroy jacket, styled like a jean jacket.  It’s all I could get away with with my parents.  And those glorious hiking boots.  I was fairly happy with this, until the day I got called “lezzie” by one of the guys in my gang.  That day changed things a bit.  He said it because his girlfriend was my best friend and we were both tomboys, hung out together all the time and were inseparable, he got jealous I think, and thus in front of the rest of the gang called us a couple of “Lezzies”…I was mortified and felt so exposed.  I had the typical girl crush on my bestie, but never had I pursued that crush.  That was basically the end of us hanging out together so much.  And the beginning of me realizing that I had to cover my tracks or I would be “found out” that I really was a lesbian.

I graduated from high school at 18 1/2 and was super eager to get out of my parents house.  The drinking age was 18 and on my 18th birthday I had one hell of a party at my house, with my parents permission.  I had taken to hanging out with my buddy Billy, racing around town in his jalopy cars and smoking pot at Dead Duck Inn, which was a park near the water.  I was a hell raiser and bound for trouble.  Billy was safe for me, he liked me I know, but I knew he was too shy to ever try anything and I could be my tomboy self with him.  Still to this day we are friends.  Our parents always thought we would marry, until it became apparent I was lesbian.

After I graduated I went buck wild and moved in with my then boyfriend Christopher.  After a couple of months of drug fueled nights and scary days, and him wanting to have sex and me not wanting to have sex with a guy.  We had a big fight and it turned violent.  I had to flee the house, and I felt that I needed to get out of the small town we lived in quickly.  So I joined the US Army and was a soldier 3 days later.

The Uniforms made me happy, dressed like all the guys.  The boots made me happy, my boot fetish got bigger.  The guns made me happy, and the crawling through the woods and fields, sleeping in foxholes and avoiding sniper fire all made me incredibly happy.  I was a tomboy in my total element, and I loved it.  Those years of sandbox Army were paying off.  I even started playing Army softball, with a bunch of other lesbian identified women.  Some were also tomboys, and some were not.  But most all of them were secretly lesbian, as the Army at that time frowned on women sleeping with women.

There I met my first real lover.  She was a blonde girl from Pennsylvania and was more girly than me, but still not too girly and I liked that.  She complimented my tomboy stature quite well I thought.  She introduced me to sex, gay bars, and Jack Daniels whiskey.  And by this time I had completely discarded any clothing that resembled girly clothing from my wardrobe, except the necessary evil under things.  At that time it wasn’t really known that I could get boxers or boxer briefs and be more comfortable, it just wasn’t done then.  The early 80’s were not fun times for LGBT people, especially those of us in the US military uniform.

Around that time I heard the word “Butch” for the first time….other than as my Dad’s nickname….used to describe the tomboyish women in my Army unit.  And I knew that that word described who I felt that I was…Butch.  I didn’t use the word to identify myself for several more decades, as it was a more derogatory term for quite a long time.  But I always knew it was my true identity.  I didn’t feel female, nor did I feel male. But I was somewhere in that gray area in the middle.  I for years refrained from using it to identify myself.  I was made to feel that my masculine presentation was somehow wrong, even though I was just being me; just being myself.

Years later, decades later actually, I would understand the Butch-Femme dynamic, know the history of my people and be proud to take “Butch” as my gender marker.  Going from easily being called Tomboy to being called Butch was as simple for me as someone going from being called a girl to a woman.   It felt right, it felt strong, and it felt like ME.  I am Butch.

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Moods and Transformation

Flannel Files is a blog that I read regularly.  In a post concerning her own personal metamorphosis she asks these questions…

“”What about you?  Are you a moody butch or in a relationship with one?  Are you still a work in progress or is your transformation complete?”

I certainly have been told that I am moody at times in my life.  And I know this is true, because I take medications to keep my mood on an even keel; keep my depression at bay and to keep me happy enough to continually participate in life.  Although my more somber moods tend to be less frequent nowadays, still I do have them.

 Butches seem to get a bad rap for mood swings.  Not saying we don’t have them or deserve a rap on the noggin occasionally, but when a Femme has moods we blame it on PMS conveniently, and when a Butch gets a bit growly it’ s like “wtf is wrong with you?”  Personally, I live alone so it is not so much of an issue for me, but I do feel for my Butch brothers, ya’ll got it rough.

Ah, and our transformation.  Yes, we can call it that, just don’t call it transition please.  People are confused enough about us Butch figures.  We come off rough and tough and then we get accused of wanting to “transition” to be male.  No, that’s not the case with most of us. We are completely confused enough transforming to being just plain old Butch.  It’s a lifetime fight; a lifetime transformation and a lifetime of learning to accept who we are and convince others to do the same.  

I went from this gawky short kid who was trying to survive high school, and did by the skin of my teeth) into a slow transformation over the decades to the Butch that I am today.  I’ve talked and written about several of the “episodes” that I’ve experienced along this journey; from the funny to the mundane.  Even again today I had another ‘dressing room dilemma’ at Walmart.  I wasn’t even binding, yet the lady directs me right into the guys dressing room.  I shrugged my shoulders, grabbed the jeans I was trying on and headed in.  She never saw me past my haircut evidently.  Not saying the rest of me was any less Butch, but I wasn’t trying to ‘pass’ by any means.  

I am not sure any of us as human beings ever are finished with our transformations in life.  Every day that I wake up is a new challenge.  Every day is a new learning experience or chance to learn if I open my eyes and see it.  As I have gotten older, past that 45 mark I feel like I have definitely gotten more rooted in my ways; I’ve become a creature of beloved habit.

Now not all habits are bad.  I have a habit of getting up every morning and slugging back 3 cups of the darkest roast, strongest coffee I can get, before I can even speak.  The bad part is the couple of cigarettes that I inhale with the coffee.  I also have a habit of wearing a white t-shirt under just about everything I wear – even my polo shirts.  It’s just something I do, maybe from watching my father don a white t-shirt for years when I was young.  Maybe just because I love the feel of the cotton against my skin.  Some habits just stick with us over our lifetimes.  Some come and go and if we are lucky don’t return ever.  

My transformation from soft Butch to more Stone Butch came after my LTR of 14 years ended.  It was then that I realized that I had been untrue to myself for a very long time.  That I had been trying to be someone who I wasn’t.  I tried to be softer for the woman I was with, not for myself.  At heart I am Butch to the core.  I live and breath a rough kind of deep masculinity only confined to a female body.  It’s a masculinity that I was born with, that genetically I have always had – or so I feel personally.  I have never known a day in this life that I did not feel Butch.  And as I have said before, Butch to me is my gender. 

Today I identify as a Butch.  While some call me a Stone Butch, I never quite know if I can put that word with Butch or not.  While I am a Butch lesbian I know that I have capacity for deep feelings and a softer side.  I can be compassionate and caring even though maybe I don’t look the part.  I understand my masculinity in a feminine way.  I don’t take things for granted like a guy would, possibly because I feel that I have more to lose.  And I don’t want to ever be considered misogynistic. I treat people with the same respect with which I wish to be treated.

I thank Flannel Files for the inspirational writing prompt!  While I didn’t relate to the butterfly “metamorphosis” type of transformation, I think it was more like going from puppy-hood to being a big dog!   What do you think?

My 12th Year…Where I Was…Growin Up

From “The Daily Post” “

Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home?”

I was a rather lucky kid.  I grew up in a rather complete family; Mom, Dad and two younger brothers, and two younger sisters – 7 of us total.  We were lucky as kids, we had terrific parents and we weren’t abused or living with alcoholics -like many of my friends tell me of their childhoods.  I had a pretty typical lower middle class childhood, living in a small rural town in southern Maine that hadn’t yet reached it’s hay-day of strip malls and outlet stores.  My parents worked their asses off to support and raise us, and I thank them for the childhood they gave each of us.

At twelve, I was living on a beautiful rural road, with sparsely dispersed houses, in a very historic area of town.  We lived in a huge old house, the first floor being over 300 years old, the second floor added in the 1940’s.  At one time the place had been a large farm, complete with two large barns that each burned long before I was born.  There were the remnants of ancient apple orchards, even a pear tree and lots and lots of grape vines gone wild.  The property was up against land that had been left to the town, thus it was called the ‘town forest’ – tons of acreage of wilderness with trails, old dumps, old foundations and even a couple of very old grave yards…ooooo….that we as kids would think were haunted by the old sea captain buried in one of them.

Along one edge of the property, just over the line into the town forrest, was a swamp with a small stream that ran harder in the rainy season. We played in that swamp for hours and hours.  We built crude bridges, caught frogs, tried fishing and manhandled turtles.  My mother would buy us tall rubber boots for our excursions into the swamp land.  I recall that we had a name for the swamp, but cannot recall what it was now…but it was a beloved place to play, get dirty, find adventure and live out fantasy life as sea captains of small boats we would try to build, or as army guys crawling through the swamp grass and muck in search of the ‘enemy’ neighborhood kids.

Toward the back of the property, behind the house was a small field where there were eight or ten old apple trees.  These afforded us plenty of tree climbing to pick apples.  Mom would make pies for us out of them.  They were old Macintosh type apples.  We would have “apple wars” throwing rotten ones at one another as we scurried for cover behind the piles of old stones used to build crude stonewalls along the border of the property between us and the town forest land.  Farmers would build the old stone walls that are found throughout New England when they would clear land to plant.  They really had nothing else to do with nor other way to dispose of the rocks and stones unearthed when plowing.  So up went stonewalls to mark borders, pen cows and horses, and to keep out the villains.  Our property had stonewalls on all three sides, and was fronted by the road on the fourth.

We had one neighboring house next to us, and one kind of diagonally across the street.  Next door was the home of the two elderly people who sold my parents the home for under $8,000. back in 1972 – when I was 10 years old, and we had returned from living for a short time in New York.  These two became our adoptive grandparents as we had none of our own grandparents living at that time.  The only grandmother I had known had died when I was 10 just after we moved into that old house; the house that would be in our family for 44 years and would be the center of family activity all that time and would shelter a million memories.

Gram and Gramps were awesome as neighbors, and they especially were sweet on my youngest brother, who went there daily for homemade cookies and some hugs from Gram.  One time Gramps even got out and rode the little guy’s bike around the driveway, which was quite comical!  Old man on BMX bike, knees up to his chin…you get the picture I am sure!  He had a big wide grin on his face too!  Gram and Gramp were killed in a head-on collision on their way to camp one weekend when I was 20 and in the US Army in Germany, sadly.  I’ve always missed them.  They always said they would “go together” and by golly they did.  Bless them.

To the left side of the property, as standing in the road looking at the house head-on, we would play baseball, kickball and football in the field there.  Gramps usually kept it mowed, as his property bordered it along that side.  He loved to see us set up our baseball diamond, even though we did break his garage window once with a baseball hit foul.  I think it may still be broken today even.  It’s a downhill slope on that side and we would roll down the hill, wrestle and play for hours there.  A few years Mom and Dad tried growing vegetable gardens on that side. The deer and bunnies would come and mow down the rows nightly.  But we did succeed with some stuff once Gramps showed us how to put down dried blood around the garden to keep out the critters.  Evidently they think of death and dying when they smell dried blood and avoid the area.  It worked and we did have a nice crop of corn one year.

So, when I was 12 living there at the homestead I was just coming into my more rebellious years.  But I was generally a good kid.  I loved to read.  I would find hiding places on the property, a flat stone at the far corner along the stonewall where I would lay and read.  The lilac bush out front would get so huge that you had paths and tunnels through the center.  It was near to the road along the front left corner, and there was a rock cliff that fell off to the road below; the lilac grew right on that cliff.  I spent hours laying at the top of that cliff reading Nancy Drew mysteries, Harriet the Spy, and anything else that I could relate to.

Around this time I found a book on the roadside one day, a porn book…which piqued my interest but had to be hidden like crazy!  I had a place in the old tin garage where I hid it, a platform up in the rafters where I could climb up and be out of sight to read the really nasty stuff.  Until someone told on me and I got caught…that ended my porn reading career until I was 18 and could get it myself! 🙂  Ah, what a memory!

At 12 I had a 2 year old brother who I just adored.  I would spend a lot of time watching him for my hard working mother.  She worked right up at the end of the road at a small motel where she started as a chambermaid and wound up as the general manager.  We could ride our bikes the half a mile to Route 1 and be at her place of work should we need her for anything in an emergency.  The summer of my 12th year we had chickens, as I recall.  Mom has always loved her chickens and fresh eggs.  We would sell the eggs to locals who would drive into our broken pavement driveway looking for them. Our coops were clean and the chickens happy.  We had one that would always get beat up in the pen, so she ran loose on the property and we named her Henny Penny.  (The sky is falling….)  She was friendly.  And in the fall when the chickens all became chicken dinners (and I cried on the cliff with my cat squeezed tight in my arms) somehow Henny Penny was no where to be found on that day.  She reappeared the next morning as if nothing had changed.  Eventually Henny went to a retirement farm to live out her days.  Dad just could not do the beheading of such a sneaky chicken – after all she had survived the carnage, she must have been a blessed chicken.

Back then, 1974, you could leave your 12 year olds in charge of your other kids and they would all survive.  Sure, bloody noses and cuts from fights happened and you held the victim down until they agreed not to tell Mom and Dad that you caused the injury!  Kids fell out of tree forts, crashed their bikes without helmets, and stayed out til dark, but it was a much safer time and we didn’t have video games, colored TV or social media to occupy our brains.  We had the outdoors and our imaginations.  We had tree forts that we built with our young hands and Dad’s leftover wood and good nails.  We held each other down and made each other drink lemon juice or hot sauce, just for fun.  We had rope swings that we almost killed ourselves on at times. There were neighborhood BB gun wars, single pump only!  And the occasional lawn dart in the head did happen, but you survived. You learned to swim whether you liked it or not, Mom’s rule.  You took a bath on Sunday night, whether you needed one or not.  And Walt Disney never dreamed of showing you Myley Cyrus!  Yes, it was a different time, and much more fun in my opinion, I would not trade then for now ever!

At 12 I was also discovering who I was as a person, and knew I had secrets that I could never talk about with anybody.  I was about to go into 7th grade.  Kids were starting to have little boyfriends and girlfriends.  I was mortified by the mere thought that I would have to be some boy’s girlfriend at some point.  I never knew at that time that there was an alternative for me.  That would come years later, long after a fun childhood of skipping rocks on the local beaches, and building sandcastles with my baby brother. And that would come just a short year after I would take him to the races in my 1973 Dodge Dart, and teach him to jungle pee because I didn’t want him in the porta-potties at the race track.   I had plenty of time for my future self, I was too busy being a fun, countrified kid from Maine who loved lobsters, clams, sunrises over the Atlantic, Seapoint Beach and my awesome family.

Approval of Others….Or Truth of Self?

Would you rather live life according to the approval of others or aligned with your truths and your dreams?

Inadvertently we all start out in this world in the way of living according to the approval of others; it’s called childhood.  We are dressed to the approval of our parents – or grandparents – and fed what they figure we should be eating to quickly grow the hell up and move out of their houses!  For some futures are laid out in details; you will attend this particular college, study this certain course of study, go on to become a professional in your field or you’ll follow in your Father’s footsteps and take over the family business.  Parents’ attempts at living our dreams and wants vicariously through their offspring is epic.

There’s always those who parents throw their hands up in the air and give up on though.  These particular kids don’t want or intend to conform to Mommy  and Daddy’s wishes  – ever.  I know because I was one of those kids.  Whatever my parents wanted, somehow I wanted the exact opposite.  At least it always seemed that way.

As a teenager I became increasingly more rebellious and after graduation I joined the US Army – see I never intended to even TRY to go to college, high school had been hard enough to navigate in my sexuality, and hiding my true authentic self to the point of pain and tears.  I never really fit in, although I tried like hell to hang with the rougher crowd; the faster cars, drug fueled escapades and sneaking in through the 2nd story window early in the mornings.  I wore Levi’s with holes in the knees and ass, rock band t-shirts and heavy work boots…although I kept my hair shoulder length as a semi-attempt at disguising my Butch self, I never felt that I truly belonged anywhere.

Today, some 30-35 years later I feel that I live today more aligned to my personal truths and closer to what makes me feel like a real, valuable person, a good Butch, and though it was a long journey, and a struggle to arrive at this place I finally feel comfort in who I am, and in my body.

It has taken years, and I’ve had places along the trail where my boots became mired in the muddiness of life and times that I have fallen to my knees, weary from just trying to be myself, without being constantly judged for who I am; for what I seemingly represent to some others.

There were years that I tried to hide myself still in certain situations.  Generally they pertained to work and my professional life in the construction industry.  I entered that world at a time when very very few other women were doing what I was doing, from the actual physical labor of swimming pool construction, to design, layout and entire job coordination or general contracting.  I recall conferences where I was singly the only woman “in” the business, and the other women there were the wives of the men in the business.  There were proud moments of receiving recognition for my work – my father taught me well – or getting some kind of award.  I tried the wearing more feminine clothing route for those things and I felt like a clown, make up and all.  The discomfort and humiliation of my feeling that I had to do that would just devastate me.

For a while in my early adult years I turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with my gender and sexuality issues.  I was not alone in that quest to kill the pain that way; many of my fellow Butches and other LGBT friends fell down that hole of hell just as deep.  When I was high or drunk – or a combo of both – I was a bolder me; I wasn’t as afraid of the world, the taunts and the looks shot my way.  In the early eighties I started to lose friends, mostly trans women and drag queens, to some strange illnesses.  Then the CDC told us about HIV and AIDS and I lost more to voilence and ignorance, and suicide as a result.  In 1992 I had managed to get clean and then got sick several times that summer.  My counsellor (yes I had turned to therapy to help with my low self esteem and addictions) urged me to be tested…and yes, I tested HIV positive that final day in August 1992.

That was 22 years ago now.  I take a lot of medications to stay alive.  I take a good amount to combat the depression and anxiety disorders brought on by dealing with everything, especially this disease.  My daily battles now are more with health considerations than with gender struggles.  It was about 6 years ago that I woke up one morning and gave permission to myself to BE BUTCH in all the glory that that meant to me.  I am happy with myself, although always striving to be better; to be a better world citizen, to be a better writer, vlogger and friend.  I have the incredible love of my large extended family and a great network of friends both online and in daily life.  I could not be a luckier person in my opinion.

So my answer would be that I would always choose to live my life aligned authentically, true to my self and who I am in this world, and true to my brothers and my community.  I pursue dreams that still allude to finding happiness simply in being who I am and serving my purpose of leaving this world a better place than when I entered it….that is what I hope to accomplish.

~MainelyButch

 

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.

 

 

 

The Butch-Femme Friendship Dilemma

I recently had a question asked by two different viewers on my Youtube channel, and it gave me pause for thought, and fodder for a blog and vlog on the topic. The question is “Can Butches and Femmes be just  friends?”  Meaning here, can they successfully navigate the terrain of friendship –  without becoming emotionally involved and without sex becoming a factor or issue in the equation?

Facebook is the prime example of epic failure in the realm of Butch-Femme friendship.  More drama and crap goes across the status bar of that application than I can even fathom.  Personally I don’t let it bother me when someone un-friends me because I tell the truth, hey I know the truth hurts!  And if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch. If you can’t take the truth, GTFO .  Because I tell it like I see it, and for some that seems to be just a tad bit too insightful for them, they are afraid I may call their bullshit like I see it.  Hell, it has happened and I have been un-friended by both Butches and Femmes  in the past, for doing just that – calling bullshit when I see it.   I don’t care to be a spectator in anyone’s  drama filled exchanges…and why would I?  Nope just not into the drama myself,  so take your “friendship” – and I use the term lightly – and GTFO.  Good riddance.  I don’t need the bullshit believe me – neither do you.

So can Butches and Femmes ever really be “friends”?   I am not sure.  I know that I approach every relationship in my life from an angle of friendship.  I offer myself as a friend.  Sex, when used as a weapon in any relationship from friendship to the romantic realm, is just wrong.  And sexual exchanges of innuendo or as “come on” talk within a friendship is not acceptable behavior from anyone who wishes to just be friends.

What I do know for myself is that Butch – Butch bromances are needed and necessary.  I am sure it’s the same for Femmes, although I cannot speak to their thoughts directly. You often need the advice of someone who possibly thinks a bit more like you do; who has walked the path that you are on and knows the ropes across that wiggly bridge.  Advice and having an ally are valuable tools in navigating this minefield of this LGBT  life.  When I have Butch things that I think only another Butch would be able to relate to then I take my questions to my other Butch friends.  If I am having Femme issues I might consult a Femme friend for insight, but it’s my Butch buddies that give me the most support; needed, necessary and like-minded support.

I do think that Butches and Femmes can be friends without sex or relationship stuff becoming an issue but it takes mature people to make the friendship.  And there is also that category of acquaintance versus actual friend.  Acquaintances are those who you know, but aren’t very close to, perhaps it’s your buddy’s girl, or the girl at work, she’s someone that you wouldn’t persue a real friendship with anyway.

Generally when a Femme puts you into the “friend” category, you stay there regardless.  Any sort of romance that may pop up are usually just fleeting things and you stay in the friendship category, because most Femmes are strong willed, solidly minded and once you are in that category there is no such thing as a “get out of friendship free” pass, it’s lost somewhere between the “go to jail” and the “get 100 condoms free” passes in life.  She wants to be your friend not your lover.  She wants to tell you how to dress better, not undress you.  She wants to talk to you like she would talk to another Femme, not like she would converse with you if she were sleeping with your ass.  Exhibit one…she will tell you about the fabulous Butch she fucked last weekend…a lover or potential girlfriend would definitely not be telling you those things. Because if she saw you as a potential lover or sex partner she would want you to think that you are the only one, so if she’s telling you about her latest conquests then you are definitely in the friend category.  Stay there.

When Butches and Femmes cross that threshold between friendship and a relationship one of two things happens.  Either they get together and stay that way, or the friendship goes straight into the shitter.  The second may happen slower, but it will eventually happen as you drift apart, one of you becoming more distant, you talk less, and then poof, no more friendship.

As you grow older in life and you gain experience in dealing with various personality types along the way, you gain insight and intuition about things.  You learn to know the difference between friendly gestures and those with romantic overtones.  You can feel when someone is not telling the whole truth, but is giving you marginal information to keep you in some sort of spot where they can later manipulate you into whatever they wish.  You learn to avoid those people, they are toxic.  Butch or Femme.  Toxic.

Basics of Butch – Femme Friendships

No pet names…once a pet name is given some sort of weird connection happens, it breaks boundaries.

No pouring out of the heart.  Save this for your time with like-minded buddies and other friends.

No sexting, multiple texting, or massive email exchanges.  Each one gives the lead to more, and that leads to a falling off of the friendship cliff.

Respect boundaries, have impeccable manners and general good behavior that will keep things friendly.

No holding of hands, touching or other intimate behavior between friends.

No names.  When discussing recent sexual conquests do not use names or identifying things.

No sexual inuendos, small talk or references to be exchanged or referred to in conversation, both in person or online.  Using any type of sexual or “come on” type language is just a recipe for trouble, with a capital T.  Afterall , it ‘s supposedly “friendship” you are after, not a relationship or sexual escapade, right?

If sexual tension evolves, deal with it head on, do not sweep it under the proverbial rug.  Get it out in the open, discuss it and solve it.  Maybe you are not meant to be friends…but are you meant to be more? If you can’t put the tension aside then it’s time to either end it or ask her out properly…you decide and let those chips fall where they may.  But remember, if she never trusts you when you say “she’s just my friend” after you get together, it’s exactly how you two met…historically speaking.  History says a lot.  She won’t want you having other “friends” of the opposite label, i.e. Butches having Femme friends and visa versa.

No drunk calls, texts or emails…never, ever a good thing.  If you are thinking of your Butch or Femme “friend” when you are drunk then it’s NOT a friendship in your head, it’s turning into something much more dangerous…the desire for a relationship.

Warning signs that it’s more than a friendship.

You start to dress more “her style”, listening to what she likes in her Butch or Femme, you start to look at your wardrobe and think of what “she” would like to see you wear, not what you like.  Never change yourself for someone, especially a “friend”.

You stay up late at night waiting by your computer for her to get home so you can chat or email with her.  This is a definite sign that it’s getting beyond friendship in your head.

Buying expensive gifts…you don’t do this for other friends, so if you find yourself looking at diamonds suddenly and thinking of buying one for her…it’s gone way beyond friends in your head.

Suddenly changing your other friends, because she doesn’t care for this one or thinks that one is too much of an influence on you.  A friend will never ask or suggest that you lose another friend just so you can be “her” friend. A true friend will encourage you to have other friends, and may even want to hang out with you and them.

Isolating…if you find you are staying home more, waiting for her calls, emails or texts then you are not being friendly, you are being stupid.

Jealousy…if you or she starts telling the other who they can and cannot hang with, communicate with or who they should and should not sleep with, or what to do with their hair, nails, brows, etc…then it’s obvious it’s not friendship, it’s a connection going deeper.

Drop off friends.

Signs that a friend has decided that you are too much work, or that she’s feeling pressured and maybe things need to frost over a bit between you before it goes somewhere other than friendship….

She becomes a bit distant, has to work late, has prior obligations and cant’ hang with you.

Phone calls become rare to non-existant.  Your calls go unanswered or to voice mail.

Texts and emails start to trail off, not so many anymore.  And those that do come are short and to the point. Then she finally stops altogether.

Friends with Benefits.

Never a good idea in my humble opinion.  Tried it and failed miserably.  And I find that it’s always a friendship killer because once you go to the intimacy level, everything changes. You may think you are still friends, but you are now more than friends, but less than lovers.  The whole dynamic is different, strained and usually not very much fun.  One of you thinks it’s friends, the other has built a house and put up a picket fence in their mind.  Watch out for this one; tread carefully.

So those are my thoughts and ideas on Butch-Femme friendship.  I do have a few very sweet and good Femme friends.  I adore every one of them, but I also keep them at a distance socially,  out of respect for them, their Butches and for myself.  I want to be a good friend, and sexual fantasy about a Femme friend would not make me a good Butch…it might make me typical to some, but not good!

Who God Intended Me to Be

I personally have no idea what it’s like to be any other way than Butch lesbian.  I know some people “come out” later in life and “figure out” they are LGBT…or that they are Butch or Femme,  a tweener, a granola, queer, or __________(fill in the blank with your favorite identity marker or label).  For me it’s just something I have always known inside of my skin and brain..  How does this kind of deep, from the beginning kind of knowing make me different?  Do we behave, in some way differently, as we come into our own in different ways as people; as lesbians – and lovers of women?

I have to wonder what it’s like to think you are straight, and then to decide you are gay/lesbian at some later point in life.…I can’t fathom that kind of thought pattern; of something that I feel that I was born with, that was ingrained into my DNA from birth.  I’m not speaking about those who knew but hid the fact from themselves and others, but about those who have had honest “awakenings” to the idea or fact that they were attracted not to the opposite sex, but to the same sex. Some call themselves late bloomers, or out laters.  I was just born this way, grew up a lesbian and knew no other way.

The Butch-Femme world is a whole other story.  I would imagine that it could be a hard world to “break in to” for someone who does not “get” the dynamic right from the get-go.  I’ve had women approach me and utter those strange words “I am not sure if I am Femme or not, but I like Butches”…and I have to wonder; wonder what thought bring those words to their mouths. Then come the “I want to learn” or “teach me” words that petrify just about any Butch I know.  Certainly does me that’s for sure.  Those words do not exude any kind of confidence or knowing of the Butch-Femme dance.

So loving women is loving women, but the Butch-Femme dynamic plays out so very differently than the standard granola style of loving women.  It’s just a different world. It’s a different existence and way of being altogether; it’s a lifestyle and a love-style.  I hear women say “I just love women”.  Well I do as well, but romantically I am only attracted to Femme women. That’s just how it is for me.

Ok, you say, so what is a Femme woman? What constitutes the definition of a Femme?

Here is my personal perception, whic, I am sure varies slightly from Butch perspective to Butch perspective, but this is how I see it for the biggest part:

A Femme is the gentler of the two in the Butch-Femme; she is the more effeminate, exhibiting much more comfort with her own femininity and all things feminine in her world.  Because of her surrounding her own self with that, she desires contrast in the romantic realm, someone to perhaps rough out the edges, so that they are not so femininely smooth as they are when she is alone.   While a Butch can be gentle she also brings that certain bravado of roughness that is necessary for a Femme to feel…well, Femme!

A Femme is much more in touch with her emotional side, not afraid to show emotion or deal with it in any way.  She will speak her mind, with no uncertainty and no hesitation.  She knows what she wants and how to get it.  Her self-confidence is a breath of fresh air, in the eyes of this Butch.

A Femme is sexy; exuding sexy all the time. yet, she easily hides in the crowd, appearing to blend in with the psuedo-normalcy of her world’s hetero sisters.  Never is her heel wearing, purse toting, skirt swishing ass questioned when she enters a gendered space, such as the ladies room or a dressing room.  She walks always and anywhere with an inner – but evident – confidence, poise and attitude that only a Femme can display.

A Femme knows fairly well where she can and cannot go with her Butch in the bedroom.  Every Butch being unique, she somehow knows and understands the boundaries and maneuvers the minefields of her lover’s body carefully, as only a Femme can do with a Butch.  She’s known these moves all of her life, as only a Femme does, and she brings a comfort and relaxation to her Butch that only she can bring.  Butches who try to be with others (non-Femme identified lesbians) sometimes find themselves in those very uncomfortable situations of having to “explain” their bodies and desires, something no Butch likes to verbalize ever…and soon those situations go awry; never really satisfying either party as much as the Butch Femme dynamic can do for those involved.

A Femme knows what her primary place is in the home; that starting and operating the chainsaw is not her job.  She knows what her Butch likes, what she hates and those things that do not matter either way.  She’s not afraid to pump her own gas, but when her Butch is present she knows better than to even get out of the car to try.  She knows that asking her Butch to do laundry comes with a disclaimer that things may be shrunken or discolored and that risk is real. Yes, we each know our strengths and our places amoungst the affray of life.

A Femme gets her way by allowing her Butch to always be seen as the strong Butch that she is, for by doing that her happiness is dynamically secured.  The way a Femme recognizes the masculine and the non-masculine in a Butch is a skill she seems to be born with, and that comes as second nature to her from the very beginning of the understanding her own Femme existence.

Some say this is mimicking of a hetero relationship.  I say it is not.  It is the dynamic that we are comfortable with, the feminine and the masculine – in two women – combined to meet each individual party’s needs, expectations and compatibilities.  It emphasizes the strengths of the Femme and the honor of the Butch in ways that only they can understand; that only a Butch-Femme couple can really fathom in their world.

I don’t ask for complete understanding of my lifestyle.  Only that people allow me to live my way and not try to criticize me for being exactly who God intended me to be.  And also to allow my Femme to do the very same thing – be her own woman.  She’s comfortable in her own skin, I am not comfortable in mine.  Without her I am naked and laid vulnerable to the cruelty of the world.  With her by my side I am protected, as is she by me.  I make her visible, she makes me secure in myself.   Perhaps in that simple sentence is the answer to why anyone is in any relationship, we make each other happy and secure.  Love does that.  All love; any love

Rock on.