Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shades of butchly difference


Malinda Lo just recently posted this quote from Jack Halberstam on her tumblr



I’ve watched Dr. Jack Halberstam’s successive definitions of herself over recent years and wondered at how similar she and I are in terms of our butch identity. Yet when I posted a month ago that I also thought of myself as “trans butch” I got some “Ah, JC, say it ain’t so!” comments from other women identified butches, like myself, who seemed threatened by it.
Most of Jack’s definition above fits me also. We are similar, but have shades of butchly difference.
I seek to be read by others as a woman who is masculine. I feel unseen by my bio-sister who relates to me as a guy and thinks that’s what I want. She can be forgiven because she is straight and reads almost nothing accurately, but I do agree with Jack, our butch community can and should tolerate variations among us.

When I grew up in the '60s we called deep-butch bulls “cross-gendered.” Today the synonym is transgendered, but this word holds many meanings. It may also includes us women who refuse surgeries, hormones, etc. but prefer masculine dress and have masculine body language, thought patterns, and are sexually attracted to femmes and/or other butches. My lesbian feminist generation was a bit late to the nuances of gender identity, but those of us still involved with the movements need to catch up and be open to how our younger generation is developing.
Come on dykes! We don’t need to feel afraid of the “trans” word. We just need to stand up for who we are.

9 comments:

EightSixSevenFiveThreeOhNine said...

It's been very interesting to do my butchsightings project for this reason - there are new and many definitions - genderqueer comes up a lot, every now and then boi. Butch too, which I'm glad about. Not enough bull daggers these days, but there probably never were.

My theory is that before the current social media, globalized spaces we inhabit, there were more words and they were more underground, varying between communities, physical locations, language and ethnic identities.

Language is more shared now - and it crosses over bigger swaths. But meaning seems to be very personal.

Marja Erwin said...

Hi,

I think that the idea of a transmasculine or trans butch spectrum, while it may make it easier to express some of your identities, can erase some other identities. It often carries the implication that butch [trans] men are 'more butch' than butch womyn, and that to be more butch is to be less female.

I am a trans womon [not in the repro-essentialist sense of womon/womyn, but in the other sense, that I define my identity in relation to myself, and not in relation to men]. I may not be butch, but I guess I am closer to butch than most womyn. And the assumption that being more butch means being less female made it hard to get support during my transition, and hard to get access to hormones. Both my therapist and my support group expected me to dress conventionally-feminine, and that's not who I am.

I want a world where any womon, including any trans womon, can be as butch as she is without people automatically taking her as genderqueer or male.

Marja Erwin said...

that should read:

I define my identity in relation to other womyn, and myself, and not in relation to men

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