“Ass”uming Butches Into Extinction

Just yesterday, I wrote about how bisexual women, straight women, and men claiming to be women were co-opting the word lesbian in their effort to twist and distort it until it means nothing; and I wondered if the patriarchy, with the help of the “I hate labels” and the “sexuality is fluid” crowds, would swallow the term whole, taking lesbians’ identity away, once and for all. Of course, that is a hard pill to swallow and the majority of lesbians will fight tooth and nail against people who think they can co-opt our words and spaces, bully us into silence, and shame us into having sex with trans women and their accompanying penises by calling us transphobic and bigots because we do not want to have relationships or sleep with men.

So imagine my horror when I was sent this screen cap of a visit to the doctor recently. A butch lesbian, a woman who does not fit society’s definition of what a woman should look like or how a woman should dress, behave, or present herself went to the ER. She checks in, sees the doctor, and before leaving, takes a peek at her chart to see something so unbelievable, for a second, I thought I was being punked when told about it.

 

Doffy1

Posted with her permission,
including leaving her name visible.

 

This doctor decided that the butch lesbian in front of her was not actually a butch lesbian but a trans man in denial. In the chart, she writes that this butch is a 48 year old trans man but adds that the “chart will say female.” There was no conversation, there were no questions about whether or not this woman believed she was trans, there was nothing but an assumption; and that assumption was based on this butch woman’s appearance.

Instead of inquiring, instead of taking a good look at the person in front of her and seeing the woman inside the butch, instead of accepting that a woman can look and dress in a manner deemed by society to be masculine while still being a woman, the doctor assumed this butch lesbian was a trans man and put forth that assertion into the woman’s chart without even so much as a by your leave.

I can tell you, as a butch, that having something like that happen: the complete erasure of the woman that you are in order to appease a group of people with such a debilitating disorder, they cry “bigot” at the slightest foul, is nothing short of humiliating. In induces a rage that, to be honest, I have no analogy for at the moment. I get irritated when I am mistaken for a man, sure, but when the person hears my voice or takes a more-than-glancing look at me, they realize their mistake, see the woman that I am, and, most of the time, apologize for not paying enough attention to the person in front of them so as to see more than a hat, t-shirt, and pair of jeans that led them to their erroneous assumption in the first place.

This is different; and, no, it isn’t the same thing as a trans person being “misgendered.” That’s silly, actually, when you take into consideration that gender is a social construct that, with so many people, changes with the wind. No this is the obliteration of butch women.

Worse than that, this is a person, a doctor, proclaiming that the patriarchy, that men mean so much to her and her conditioning is so complete, she has decided to, without consent, assign maleness to the woman standing in front of her; and she expects that gross misjudgment to be rewarded with thanks and praise for being such a good sheep in the gender pasture.

This is why we must band together and stop this madness, this trans epidemic, this erasure of women, and this annihilation of butch lesbians. Butch female lesbian visibility is a feminist issue, one that is much more important, and vitally so, to women; more so than prioritizing men’s issues. Lesbians should not be erased for the sake of men’s “delicacy.”  

 Our words are important. Our spaces are important. Our sex is important. Every time we take another step back to readjust the lines that should not be crossed, we get closer and closer to the cliff leading to our extinction.

Advertisements

Butch Visibility in a Man’s World

I was doing a very normal thing this morning: taking out my trash. I was casually dressed in sweats, a t-shirt because I was outside getting a few things done; and a ball cap because it was sunny outside. As I get to the trash can at the end of my driveway, a truck pulls up and a guy yells out, “Hey Buddy!” I told him I wasn’t his buddy and asked him what he wanted. He got upset, mumbled something about how he wanted to ask me something and that he didn’t know what he did to me but whatever. I ignored him and went back into my house.

Was I a little harsh? Maybe. A lot of people, and I mean a LOT of people judge me based on my clothing, how I walk and stand, how short my hair is, my ball cap, etc and they conclude within 2 seconds of seeing me that I am a man. I won’t lie, it is upsetting for us butches to be mistaken for men like that. It makes us feel invisible and it discounts the fact that we are women, which is something we still are no matter what we do or wear and we are proud of this fact. We are absolutely nothing like men, so to be mistaken for men shows us that the world did and does see us in the black and white of the patriarchal binary system.

Do you know what I didn’t do? I didn’t threaten to kill him or threaten him with rape for his mistake. I said a few words and wasn’t a polite timid woman apologizing to him for HIS mistake, but I didn’t do what so many men who pretend to be women do: I didn’t threaten, harass, or stalk him for mistaking me for a man.

As I said, we are completely different from men. We don’t think or act like men and we sure as hell don’t want to BE men. When people accuse us of this, it is either because they truly don’t understand what and who butches are or because they are trying to humiliate, discredit, and/or silence us.

Butches are at both the forefront and at the back of the LGB community. A butch was right there at Stonewall as one of the people who started the riots that sparked the LGB civil rights movement. Butches are highly visible, which leads to taunts, slurs hurled at us, beatings, rape, and death. We are antagonized for being butch women because we are not, according to society, the “right” kind of women.

At the same time as all of the above, we are also invisible. We are not represented in TV, movies, or other media. When we do happen to end up on TV, it is either as a caricature that is made fun of or we are expected to dress, act, and BE more feminine to please the general audience.

And then you have a group of individuals who are trying to erase butches from the planet completely. They are doing everything in their power to render us extinct. This group is comprised of 2 types of people: (1) the men who claim to be women and then further claim to be butches (see Tobi Hill-Miller, etc.); (2a) the women who feel the right course of action in this patriarchal binary system is to attempt to transition into men, but still call themselves butches (FtM or F2Tg); (2b) the women who are butches, but insist that they are also somehow male by labeling themselves “male-identified” butches.

These people make it almost impossible for young lesbians who are “different,” who are baby butches, but don’t know where they fit in this world to be ok with the women that they are. These young women are encouraged and even brainwashed into transitioning into something similar to men because they are taught that to be a different kind of woman is bad. They are taught that the binary is king and that they must choose: masculine = man and feminine = woman.

To be anything else, a masculine woman or a feminine man would be an abomination in these binary-loving people’s eyes. So they preach and they intimidate and they brainwash and they bully these young women (and sometimes even older women fall into this trap) into taking hormones, having healthy breasts cut off, having healthy uteri and ovaries removed, all in the name of patriarchy.

So we are disappearing. As we watch our sisters try to embrace all that is male in order to be more accepted by the patriarchy and as we watch more and more young women trying to transform their bodies into something more acceptable to this male-dominated society, butches are disappearing and being replaced by fakes who distort who we are.

Something has to be done soon about this trans epidemic or we will eventually end up with the total extinction of butches; and that would be a shame. Transwomen are already bastardizing the very idea of what and who a woman is by trying to claim the one thing men have never really owned: femaleness. We cannot allow women to continue to hurt themselves by trying to change their bodies and delude themselves into thinking that change will make society accept them.

There is a whole generation of wonderful butch voices that needs to be heard. There are butches still out here who could be role models to young lesbians, showing them that it is k do be different, it is ok to love your butch body, it is ok to be women who the patriarchy and this binary system of being will never accept.

Acknowledge our existence.

Acknowledge our experience.

Know there is a better way of being butch in this man’s world.

Guest Post — A Black Butch Speaks: Addressing Female Oppression by Pippa Fleming

This is a fantastic analogy on how we treat young black and butch girls who hate their bodies and wish to change things about themselves in order to become more like the rest of society instead of being taught to love themselves and their bodies, society be damned.

 

As lesbians and especially as butches, we need to step out more, be more visible, let our voices be heard, and even mentor a young butch struggling with her body and how it does not conform to society’s standards.

 

Society needs to change, not the individual it chooses not to accept.

Bev Jo -- Radical Lesbian Feminist writing

A Black Butch Speaks: Addressing Female Oppression

Guest Post by Pippa Fleming

I’ve been holding silence for quite some time but now it’s time for me to speak.

When a Black child presents with signs of internalized racism, we want to protect them. We want them to know they are perfect as they are and loved for exactly who they are. If we are conscience Black folks, we try to infuse our young people with the knowledge, skills, wisdom and support necessary, so they may survive and thrive in this racist society.

If little Lakesha comes home with “mommy I hate being Black and I want to be white” we are shocked, dismayed and sadden by her self loathing and rush to find the source of her oppression. Is it school, the media, her peers, society or all of the above?

So why when little butch Lakesha comes home with…

View original post 300 more words

The Bullshit Surrounding Butches and Male Pronouns

You know, this whole craziness with butches and the use of male pronouns on-line started out innocently enough. There we were, back in the day, flocking to  AOL and/or gay.com chat rooms: tons of lesbians connecting from all over the country and world. There weren’t many butch-femme chat rooms and those in existence weren’t populated by that many women (side note: when I say woman in this post, I mean a biologic female), so most of us hung out in the lesbian chat rooms; because, hello, we were all lesbians. Note that this was well before “lesbian” became a bad word.

While some women had pretty obvious names that let others know if they were butch or femme, a lot didn’t and it caused a lot of confusion. So somewhere along the line, people started calling butches “hy” as a way to recognize that this was a masculine person who was not a man; and “he” was used as well, sometimes as an alternative, sometimes as a preference.

I, myself never used either because (a) I am a woman, (b) I really hate made up and misspelled words, and (c) it felt wrong and stupid calling another woman “he.”

Again, this was JUST on-line. I never ever heard anyone in real life refer to butches with male pronouns.

Unfortunately, that innocent beginning snowballed into this massive cluster fuck of pronouns where everyone has their own opinion as to what butches should or should not be called. Most people, femmes and butches alike, default to “he/hy” for ALL butches, even those who they know have expressed a preference for female pronouns.

Then, there are those butches who prefer to be called “she” but don’t mind being called “he.” This attitude about it really pisses me off because this way of thinking reinforces the default to “he/hy.” It helps to reinforce the invisibility of the woman in the butch.

When butches who prefer “he/hy” are accidentally called “she,” they flip their shit. It’s like the world is ending for them because someone called them “she” or “ma’am” or whatever. A battle ensues, people are accused of “feminizing,” etc. It’s crazy.

On the other hand, those who prefer to be called “she” are expected to love being called “he/hy.” We are supposed to feel honored and happy that someone has just ignored the fact that we are women and created this cloak of invisibility around us under the guise of “respect;” and god help us if we try to correct the person using the incorrect pronouns. You would think we suddenly grew a third nipple in the middle of our forehead or something!

The deeper issue here is, of course, misogyny. Male privilege tells us that women, in this and many other societies, are considered less than. Men are considered better, stronger, faster, and smarter than women. Men have almost all of the power in politics, men compromise almost all of the top corporate positions, men are considered to be the leaders of the world. A man’s opinion is considered to be the only one that matters and god help the woman who dares to stand up to him and tell him he is full of shit.

Because women are considered less than, calling someone (particularly a man) a pussy or a bitch or a girl is considered an insult. In that same vein, calling a butch “she” is also considered an insult.

So since woman is the insult, then man is the compliment. The number one compliment for FtMs or male-ID butches (my god, how that term is SUCH an oxymoron!) is that they are called “sir” in public by straight people. Their ultimate horror is for someone to use female pronouns when speaking to/about them; or an even WORSE thing to have happen to them is to be “feminized” (more misogyny).

Continuing on the thought that being a woman is an insult and being a man is a compliment, then butches, who are masculine women, are then supposed to LOVE being referred to with male pronouns; and if we don’t like it, we just have to suck it up and/or fuck off because that’s just the way it is.

It’s all just so fucking heteronormative and misogynistic. Calling us “he/hy” doesn’t just make the women that we are invisible and it doesn’t just perpetuate the misogynistic view that women are less than, it also makes other people start to actually SEE US AS MEN.

Suddenly, all of the erotica written by femmes and butches has “he” and “she” in it, as if it were about a heterosexual couple. All of the things butches are expected to do are all male related: fixing cars, loving sports, drinking a beer with our hand down our pants while watching the game and bitching at “our woman” to make us a sandwich, etc.

In everyone’s eyes, we BECOME men! This is why so many non-femme/butch lesbians assume that butches and femmes are simply emulating straight couples. How could they NOT think that when all of the butches and femmes are calling butches “he” and expecting us to take out the trash and complete our honey-do list?

It all starts with words. Words are very very powerful and when we are not careful, something as innocent as trying to tell who is who in a chat room can snow ball into all of us falling back into the same old bullshit where femmes treat us like men, straight people and other lesbians think we all want to be men, and the young butches coming out today all think they have to transition because, hell, if they are masculine, then they MUST be men, right?

That, right there, is part of why I decided to stop with the silence and start speaking up about these issues: those young butches out there who think their only choice in life is to transition.

It’s time to change our way of thinking. It’s time to stop using male pronouns for women and denying who we are. It’s time to stop comparing butches to men and treating us as if we think and behave like men. Men don’t own masculinity and it’s time we stopped pretending that they do.

It’s time to stop female invisibility.

What ARE you, anyway? She or he?

1238114_508918125850806_1503116597_n

I saw this on Facebook yesterday and it made me think of all those times when a woman around me clearly thought I was a man and treated me as such by clutching her purse, looking over her shoulder, distancing herself from me, etc. On the one hand, I applaud women protecting themselves. After all, men are the number one cause of violence against and death of women; so, yes, please make sure you are mindful of the men around you who you think might do you harm.

On the other hand, when this and a thousand other little things like it happen to me daily, I can’t help but feel invisible in this patriarchal world. People, in general, see the hat and the “men’s” clothing and they automatically see a man standing before them, while the woman who is actually there is completely invisible.

As a Butch, I am invalidated by the straight community, shunned by parts of the lesbian community, and outright mocked by the trans community. The straight community thinks I should be more feminine, parts of the lesbian community think I just want to be a man, and the trans community thinks I am a transman in denial who should just transition already.

But I am a woman.

Butches are women.

We were born women and we were raised women in a male dominated society.

We may be masculine, but we are still women.

True, there are some butches who like to play the pronoun game on-line by demanding that everyone use male pronouns when talking to them. These are women who feel like they cannot be masculine unless they are as close to being male as a woman can possibly get, which includes using male pronouns. These are butches who live completely in the binary that the patriarchy has forced down all of our throats and with which the patriarchy has blinded so many of us into thinking that only men can be masculine and only women can be feminine.

This way of thinking and being is troublesome for butches as it perpetuates the invalidation of the women that we truly are. It continues to make us invisible in this world and creates a false sense of security for those butches who take on male pronouns; as if they are somehow now immune to what the world at large truly thinks of us because they make people call them “he” on-line.

This has also caused a shift in the butch-femme community where most femmes on-line use male pronouns with butches as the default. The very people who know us best, the women who have always seen us and have always been there for us now see only the maleness and no longer see the women that we are. It’s as if, suddenly the yin is invisible to the yang, making neither whole.

In the real world, of course, this does not happen. Butches are all women and we embrace the women that we are, accepting and relishing in the use of female pronouns; but on-line, we are bombarded with male pronouns and treated as if we are strange for not accepting and embracing them as our own.

Butches are not men.

Butches don’t want to be men.

Butches don’t want to be compared to men in any way, shape, or form.

We are women who love women.

Period.

The Beginning

Where have all the butch lesbians gone?

It’s a question I see all the time on-line these days. This is the age of queer and gender theory, when being a masculine woman simply isn’t good enough any longer and one must transition in order to be seen and heard. So tons of butches and young teenage lesbians transition into men, thinking the hate they have for their bodies, the invisibility they feel, and the anger they have towards a society that mocks them daily will disappear.

So, where have we gone?

Most of us are kept silent, forced into the closet we already clawed our way out of because we are not allowed to talk about our lives. We are not allowed to openly discuss our love of our female bodies mixed with our masculine traits. We are not allowed to mention our mourning the loss of our butch sisters as they escape into the patriarchy we have spent our lives fighting against as it drags us, kicking and screaming into its binary system of thinking and being.

To do so means we are traitors to our own community, a community we helped to build and in 1969, a community for which we put ourselves out there and helped to start the Stonewall Riots. That’s another thing we are not allowed to talk about, by the way: Stonewall. The trans community has rewritten history so many times by taking away butches and replacing them with transmen that it is a wonder we even exist anymore.

The Stonewall riots were started by a butch and a drag queen, not a transman and a transwoman. Teena Brandon was a butch, not a transman. These are things we are not allowed to talk about without being called transphobes, without being threatened, without being bullied into silence by men (and the apologists who defend them) who cannot stand outspoken women.

It is not transphobic to celebrate the woman I am. It is not transphobic to not transition into a man in order to appease the patriarchy who demands that women are feminine and men are masculine. it is not transphobic to keep history true instead of allowing it to be changed by those who wish to use it to further their own agendas. It is not transphobic to speak my truths.

So instead of continuing to stay silent, I decided to create my own space where I can speak my truths and talk about my life as a butch woman, as a lesbian. I do not lead a glamorous life, I just lead my life and I wish to remain visible in this world of increasing butch invisibility so that other young women who are perhaps butch don’t get trapped in the false belief that if they are masculine, then they MUST be a man.