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. 

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

 

 

 

Snow…Dating…Sex….What’s up!?

Saturday, 24th…It’s snowing like crazy here today and I am stuck inside watching the flakes rain down from the clouds. There is not even any reason to get dressed, other than to go outside to shovel, today. I’m going to stay in my comfortable clothes, my flannel pajama pants and a sweatshirt and slippers all day, yes, it’s just going to be a lazy snow day! Even the dog has hunkered down and is being ubber cuddly; just wants to snuggle up with me and be petted and made of. I’d rather have a nice hot woman here to snuggle with, but in absence of that I will settle for cuddling on the couch with the dog and a warm blanket.

I woke up this morning sick to my stomach…complete with headache and body aches…thinking I may be have a little flu bug. I’m not bad now, but first thing was pretty miserable for me. I don’t often get sick but when I do it’s always sudden and harsh, then I slowly get better over the course of a day or so.

Monday.…Jan. 26, 2015

Ok, weird thought in my head, about how women hit on each other sometimes. I remembered the time in my life, in my 20’s that I asked a woman to come over and check out my rock collection…true story! On a side note, I ended up in a relationship with that woman for the next year or so as I finished out my time in the Army at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma…obnoxious as it sounds it was a great pick up line, she knew exactly why she was invited over, not naive to think I really had a rock collection…… I think that most women are pretty smart in that respect, they know that a Butch has some lame pick up lines sometimes, and even some cute ones that can’t be resisted 😉  (Tell me your BEST pick up line that worked in the comments below!)

I generally only respond to women who show interest. And I ‘m not one to bug or annoy a woman, I don’t get into calling or texting her repeatedly without response. That to me is just rude. If you can’t take a hint like “she’s not returning my texts, maybe she’s not interested.” I just don’t get it. If she’s interested in me she will respond, if she’s not then she won’t. That’s how calls and texts work. I’ve learned quite a bit about attentiveness and the like in the last year. I’ve definitely learned that if a woman wants my attention then she has to show me by giving me her time and attention too. And if she doesn’t respond then she probably isn’t interested or doesn’t wish to be bothered.

Dating has been a big topic in my social circles lately. Seems every one wants to discuss dating styles and types, and who’s dating who and how each of us goes about the dating “dance”. Ah, and it IS a fine tuned dance for sure. I don’t take dating lightly, when I probably should be more relaxed about it and just go out more often and meet some nice women. I tend to be shy meeting new people, I watch their eyes and their body language to try to start to learn about them. Do they make eye contact? Do they cross their arms across their chests in that “don’t talk to me stance”? How are they reacting with their other friends?

Problem is with ME being shy is that I often encounter the best women, the ones I am attracted to the most are also somewhat shy. Two shy don’t make a date! Eeek! I know that if I just applied myself even the slightest bit more here that I would have no problem dating, it’s just that I am so damned picky, and my being picky isn’t helping me to find a good woman to love. Back in the days when I used to drink/drug I had no problem with shyness, it goes away about drink #2 with me, but I dislike drinking too much now to use it for much. Occasionally I will have a Twisted Tea or a Hard Lemonade, but rarely do I have more than 3…that’s my limit and that’s rare that I even do that nowadays. I like having my wits about me, and I don’t like a sloppy drunk, so I don’t suppose that other women would either.

I’ve been in a pretty good mood lately actually, even though things aren’t going exactly as I wished they were, I’m in a fairly good space personally. I don’t know why, I just feel a little more relaxed inside, less anxious these past few days. I’ve been doing a lot of meditation and deep thinking…I needed to do just that, to relax and just let my thoughts carry me through a bit of a rough patch.

I’ve learned over the years that you cannot force someone to like or love you. That’s just a fact. And I’ve been on the circuit for 4 decades now, dating, long term relationships and affairs, one-nighters, and a little kink thrown in for good measure…yeah I admit it, I don’t deny that I am a sexual being at all. As a matter of fact I think sex is a wonderful thing, but it’s only part of the equation in any relationship, it’s the icing on the cake so to speak, there is just so much more to building and maintaining a good, solid relationship. Plus, I am not looking for just sex anymore, I want more than that with a woman…yes, preferably with one singular woman.

I can’t turn on my feelings and turn them off with some kind of switch. I don’t even have a 3-way bulb type setting which you might be able to turn up brighter at will and down or off at will. My heart doesn’t work on an “at will” basis at all. When I meet a woman I am interested in, it’s a funny little dance, and a scary one for me. My mind goes into the whole “what IF” mode really fast. Like what if she doesn’t like Butches? Or what if she is bi-sexual? Or what if I am not good enough? What if, what if. Then if I meet one that I really like, all hell breaks out in my head.

I get told a lot that I am good looking, that I am funny and that I am sweet, ect. I’m very flattered, but I am truly your run-of-the-mill Butch, in my opinion. There’s nothing really special about me, although I wish there were! I’m not rich, or famous, or a knight in shining armor (I really want to be that last one especially!)

Tonight I had a really nice, long talk with a very good friend (who I hope to see soon) and she helps me sort of talk through what’s going on in my head…she for some reason is a rare person that I can really feel comfortable with in discussing stuff like sex and sexual stuff. She assured me it’s not a looks thing, that I am handsome enough, just a little too shy. She’s taught me a lot in the 5+ years that we’ve known each other, and I respect her opinions very highly. But tonight she reminded me that there are billions of women in the world and a good portion of them are lesbian and eligible to date…I just need to relax and let it happen and not try to force the issue.

I find it difficult to talk about sex…and in today’s world of 2015 EVERYONE is talking about sex, and very openly and blatantly! I hear more things on TV that I would be embarrassed to say myself! I wish I were more verbal about it, then maybe I wouldn’t get myself into that vulnerable space of talking about it and I could relax. I am going to work on that for sure. For now, I am sort of enjoying my sex life vicariously through this dear friend of mine, who tells me of her awesome adventures quite frequently – and I enjoy hearing about them! So why do I find it so difficult to talk about sex myself? If I can read about it, watch it on screen, participate in it and think about it all the time…why the hell can I not verbalize my own needs comfortably and confidently? I am betting that things would be far better for me if I could. I’ve found very few women that I could be really comfortable with in discussing what I like in sex and what I don’t and the such. I do like women who will entice me to talk about sex with them, who know how to get to me. And I’m extremely good at show and tell though….that gets me by! 🙂 hahahaha

I’ve been working harder at connecting with my friends lately. I realize that I am not good at that, that I am not attentive to my friendships the way that one should be. So I’ve made a concerted effort to do just that lately. My buddy in AZ called again tonight too! It was awesome to chat with her for a half hour and catch up on the goings on in her life, and to discuss a possible visit for 2015. I’d love to see her and her hubby sometime later this summer. He has to travel in warmer weather as he’s older and the cold really bothers him. She and I share Army history together, so it’s cool that we have stayed in contact now for 35 years. And when we talk it is just like no time at all has gone by, even when it’s been maybe a year or more since our last conversation, we still pick right up where we left off. This year, I think we are both making more effort, as that’s the 3rd time we’ve talked since New Years’ Eve. And we also text occasionally and email.

It’s funny, because I think sometimes that I don’t have many friends, but in all actuality I do! They are just spread across the world and our contact is more limited to phone, texting, email and once in a while, Skype. I’ve done well thus far in 2015 in touching base with most of them. Old Army friends, childhood friends, and other friends from different times in my life, as well as today’s friends who live close by. Friendships are important, and have to be nurtured.

Newer friendships that I have made online, like my Canadian contacts…I just love them all. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from one of them somehow. Canadians seem to be the best at communication online I’ve noticed. And they are the BEST letter writers for sure! 🙂 I have a Canadian friend who I exchange long hand-written letters with on a monthly basis usually. We both enjoy the vanishing art of writing a good letter to someone, and it’s so cool to go to the mailbox and find a nifty letter waiting among all the bills and junk mail.

I think that 2015 is going to be a good year for seeing some of these friends. I have been talking to a couple of them who wish to come up to Maine for a visit this year. And it’s looking like a good year for travel with the fuel prices being down and airfare being more reasonable as a result. I’ll be sprucing my house up for visits, making it look as nice as I can make the little box look. I wish my neighborhood were nicer, people just don’t take the care that I do with my place around here. The unit next door to mine needs to be hauled away and scrapped soon, it looks awful and is just dragging the property value of the other surrounding places down with it’s horrible condition. I don’t know HOW people LIVE in there, it must be some cold and nasty. My unit is only 18 yrs old and is in nice condition. Plus I strive to keep it really nice, I keep the yard nice, don’t let stuff build up and I keep the inside very neat and clean. It’s important to me that it be as nice as possible all the time so that it’s presentable to guests and for me to live happily in.

Ok…I will finish this long rambling blog up by saying PEACE! And everyone in the North Eastern US I hope that you are safely, and warmly, hunkered down in your homes while this wild blizzard rolls over us in the next 24 hours. I know I will be here online, writing and reading and playing on Facebook most all day unless we lose power…which I hope and pray we do not, because heat goes with power….and it will be mighty cold! If that happens I will retreat, in my 4 wheel drive SUV, to my sister’s home about 5 miles away. She has a beautiful woodstove in her nicely finished basement.

MainelyButch: Butch Rambles

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The way we are raised, the way we grow up is responsible for forming many of the ways that we think and it informs the way that one looks at the world.

No two people look at things exactly the same. We are taught our manners, our prejudices and our ways as we are raised up from children. Most of us know our family’s prejudices before we are 8 years old and carry them with us into adulthood.

I was raised Protestant and in a very straight home. We were the typical blue collar working class family of 7, married parents, and 5 of us kids. I was the oldest. I caught hell on everything first! I was also the first to go against the ways of that typical nuclear family when I came out as gay at age 18 to the world and 22 to my family.

I’ve had much time for self-reflection in my recent years. I like to think I am a good person, empathetic and sympathetic. Some get this from therapy, talking and conversation. I get my doses of self-reflection through my blogging and writing. I rant and ramble, figure things out, change my opinions and improve myself daily. I always try to look at the other side of things, and not be judgmental.

My identity today is founded partially in how I was raised, and partially in how I have walked the world and what I have come to believe on my own. I no longer hold the same exact values that I once had. I like to believe my values have changed for the better. While I was taught respect and tolerance, I was also originally taught it was wrong to be gay. Imagine how that felt as a young gay person growing up in a place where you knew you were “wrong”.

Thankfully most all people can and do change over their lifetimes. My family included. They are now the most accepting and supportive group of people in my life. Today they don’t see the difference between me and my straight sisters’ relationships – they accept and support the choices and realities of my life and others in my extended family who have also come out of the closet.

I am one of the lucky ones I know. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family in my life. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that dynamic with their own families. I feel for them. I can’t imagine losing that love and support. I can’t imagine not having it, or being exiled from the family simply for my sexual orientation as gay.

In my own case I am not only a lesbian woman, but I am very Butch. This obviously is part of who I am and has been part of what my family also had to understand and deal with over the years. My identity as Butch wasn’t something that I was always comfortable with myself, I tried to hide it in many ways as a young person. I tried to not be as obviously queer…but that was like putting lipstick on a pig…it’s still a pig. And I was still Butch. Being a more masculine woman is just who I am, and always have been.

When I decided to have top surgery earlier in 2014, and went through with it in August 2014, it was a stretch for my family to wrap their minds around I know. They didn’t quite get why I needed to have the surgery for myself. I had always been uncomfortable with my chest, especially looking as masculine as I do and having boobs. It just wasn’t working in my head and I pursued the surgery to correct my body for myself. I feel 100% better with a much flatter chest, and I am more comfortable in my clothing and far less self-conscious about my appearance. My family stood by me and supported my decision, although I do know it wasn’t easy for my mother, still she was there for my surgery and respected my choice. I love her dearly for that.

I have no qualms with the fact that I am female. I am not a guy and I know it. I get questioned often as to if I am Transgender and while I respect that people think that because I have had top surgery that somewhere in my mind I “want” to be male…but that’s just not the case. I am happy being a very Butch woman. I know that within the LGBT community that it’s a popular belief that many Butch lesbians will transition to male. And I have seen more of them doing just that, but not all of us wish to transition, and while I respect everyone’s individual decisions to do so or not, I think that we need to remember that there are many of us Butch lesbians that are now getting top surgery without the desire to transition to male. With today’s medical expertise it can be done safely and if we are uncomfortable why not?

So the myth that all Butch lesbians want to be men is just that a myth. Many of us are just Butch, plain and simple. Masculine women by nature in many cases. I know that I have known that I personally was a masculine woman for most of my life. As a kid I was known as a super Tomboy and as I grew up I didn’t change, I became an adult Tomboi….better known as a Butch woman.

I enjoy my life, I enjoy my sexuality and my gender presentation. If I didn’t like myself the way that I am I would change, right? Right. But I don’t change because this is how I am comfortable. This is how I am meant to be in this life. This is what feels right and good in my mind, body and soul.

I hold a lot of respect for those in my life who are Trans*. It’s got to be one very tough road. I can only imagine if I go through what I do, that they each must have much harder roads to travel. I read a blog about one former Butch lesbian’s journey into transition, here, and it was very eye opening for me – and I consider myself pretty well informed! I hadn’t thought of the need to validate, and other issues that my Trans* friends face daily.  This is a great blog, and I recommend the read for everyone.

It also makes me wonder if my lack of correction with people who mis-gender me is a good or bad thing. I get called sir at least 6-8 times a day (especially at work, I work in tool and hardware sales, so I have a typically male dominated job and I look very masculine. This obviously makes people assume that I am a guy….thus the “sir”. It’s children that don’t get it quite often. I had one boy last week pull the “is that a girl or a boy?” question to his mother, when she didn’t answer and was obviously embarrassed, he got louder and louder, repeating the question about 4 times. She scurried him away and scolded him as she went.

Should I be correcting people? It just seems bothersome to me, and it seems that I would be just inviting discomfort. Who’s discomfort, I am not sure. My own for one. I find it just easier and more comfortable for me to ignore it and carry on with what ever I am doing. At least at work where I am in contact with the person for a few minutes, then may never see them again. I think if it were someone who was in my life on a regular basis I would have to find a way to correct them and leave it as a positive experience. eh…

Some would say “You look like a guy, so it shouldn’t bother you.” And for the most part it doesn’t, I am just wondering if it’s right or not, how I handle it. Is ignoring it disrespectful?

So here I ramble once again…it’s part of my thought process, part of navigating the world and the questions in my head.

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?

Butch Strength

Sudden Awareness blogged “Talking Tough” and asked this question:

Why do we value strength so much that it is one of the most frequently

cited attributes used to define our ideal selves?

 

Butches are generally seen as strong.  Rough, tough and resolutely strong.  It’s been bred into us seemingly, either from our bio-parents or from our chosen influence(s).  Ask any Femme what she likes in a Butch and she will most likely say “I like how they are strong and tough.”  I believe that it’s a Butch and masculine trait to be the strong; to be the stronger person in most relationships, particularly when that relationship is of romantic nature, but also when we are in the presence of anyone who seems to need our strength to help them.  Butches inherently like to be helpful, to solve the problem, to be the cure.

 

To me that strength has to come from a few various places inside of me.  Physically I am not that big at 5’3” and 150 lbs., but I am body-strong. Even through fighting chronic pain in my c-spine and lower back I can still push myself physically through tasks that require brute strength – and I pay for it dearly later.

 

The mental side of my strength is that I am pretty absolute in my thought process.  I have convictions that I stick to; ethics that I follow and cherish.  I love to solve problems; to challenge my mental capacity to see the issue and the solution in one vision.  I adore learning and look for every opportunity to advance my knowledge in just about any topic area.

 

The emotional side of strength is my secret weakness. Emotionally I usually feel a bit stunted in my growth.  I found, from a very young age, that showing any kind of emotion could be viewed as a weakness; a character flaw of sorts.  I rarely cry as I see crying as a true weakness in just about any form.  As a youngster I never wanted my father to see me cry for fear that he think that he had raised a “sissy baby” who would cry if she was upset or sad.  Thus I built this brick wall over my tear ducts and refused to cry.  Even when it would be appropriate to cry, if I get teary eyed I feel the shame of weakness in the tears.

 

The blogger Sudden Awareness brought this question of Butch strength up in their blog.  Also saying they were going through this rediscovery of authentic self.  I was also writing on this subject, and pondering my strengths and weaknesses in this life.  As you have heard me speak of in past blogs, I am a true believer in being one’s authentic self and it’s something that I am vigilantly aware of being in my own life.  I have been going through some changes within my own world as of late, and have been trying not to lose my authenticity in those changes in any way.

 

Life should never stay the same.  Evolution means that we continue to morph and grow each day of our lives.  Each day we can be open to learning something new, discovering or rediscovering ourselves in things that we read, see and experience in daily life.  I live by the motto that if you are not growing and changing that you may as well be dead as it’s the same thing.  I have always said that the only time you do not grow as a person is when you are cold and pushing up daisies in some field of squared off stones.

 

My own life has changed radically over the last 8 years particularly. I left a world that I had become very comfortable inside of, and ventured into a community that shuns me on a daily basis singularly on my appearance as a masculine Butch personality.  If I meet another lesbian who asks why I want to be a guy I am going to throttle her for assuming things she does not know, and for putting her ignorance into words so effortlessly.

 

Sometimes I feel like every decade of my life has been a bit of a kind of separate life; a slice of time in one life.  Each decade has had its defining moments, and it’s ups and downs, ways of being and ways not to be.  It’s with this current time that I feel that I have truly stepped into being my authentic self – lock, stock and barrel.

 

I have never felt comfortable in the LGBT community because of the separation of the Butch-Femme crowd from the rest of the lesbian social circles.  I have always found this odd in so many ways.  I’ve experienced lesbians who have been actively afraid of the Butch – Femme dichotomy to the point of feeling threatened in some weird way.  They seem to be afraid that by associating with us that they would somehow be seen as traitors to the rest of the women who proclaim lesbian as their sexual identity.  Often we are accused of re-enacting the heterosexual norm with our more decisive roles and ways of being Butch and Femme.  To me it just seems ridiculous.

 

I am Butch, always have been and always will be.  I don’t disrespect anyone for being who they are in this life, and I hate it when people try to instill their insecure values upon me.  I will continue to be my authentic Butch self, and hope every person on earth is given the freedom to be their own selves as well.  It takes strength and fortitude to walk through life being something that other people dislike or despise.  I’ve experienced both, plus being something/someone that people also hate just for who I am as a Butch.  My own security in myself is based in my strength as an individual; as someone who is proud and will not be bullied into being any other way.

 

Butches have to have strength and be resilient to deal with their own parts in the LGBT community; to survive under the trans umbrella as masculine of center on the binary scale.  Our strength is something that we are forced to have and something that keeps us safe inside of ourselves.  The strength to get up every day and know that even our own community has issues with us and our gender identity can be dismaying to most, but to a Butch it’s just another part of the challenge that keeps us towing the proverbial line.

 

Inside of the Butch-Femme dynamic Butches rely on the strength given to them by their Femme counterparts many times.  Femmes while being more delicately presenting are very strong in heart and conviction.  A Femme can be a fierce enemy or a fierce ally.  Believe me you don’t want her as an enemy!  A Femme can make me feel incredibly strong, while I also know she realizes that I can also be incredibly fragile at the same time.  My masculine presence is threatened every day, and that alone requires a kind of strength to deal with that I cannot even begin to explain.