A couple of posts ago, I referred to myself, in my youth, as a stone butch. This created a controversy. Everyone has their own ideas about what a stone butch is. All negative. And they didn’t include me. Butch, no argument, but not stone. That is because I am, and aways have been, a big softy. A big hugger, a big kisser, and a big cuddler. I’m sweet and I’m considerate. With humans and with dogs. I just don’t like taking my clothes off or having my “girl” parts fiddled with.
Stone butch sounds hard and immovable. Stone butch sounds cold and rough. It isn’t. I’m not made out of bedrock. I am a butch with contradictions. I am a butch with limits. Some labels are too hard, some labels are too soft, and none of them feels just right. Not even the little bear’s.
I don’t require my own special seat at the gender table. I don’t want to be corralled into the polygon sliver within the overlapping circles of lesbian, butch, transgender, queer, neutrois, genderqueer, androgynous, agender, tomboy, and transmasculine. Nor do I want to define myself by the empty space left over after eliminating what I am not: cisgender, straight, polyamorous, bisexual, transsexual, trans man, or ftm. I would like to be able to explain myself in one sentence that anyone can understand and relate to.
I don’t like using labels to exclude people. I was excluded for being odd, weird, different, queer, and awkward. An introverted tomboy. I was only included in social activities when I was bullied; otherwise I was shunned. I was the kid with the cooties from kindergarten through 6th grade. That wasn’t how I identified; it was branded onto me by the other kids at P.S. 40, Manhattan. There was no escaping it.
I am wary of labels and categories that are applied by outsiders, even if they mean well. I do not want to be narrowly defined by the medical or psychiatric establishment. I don’t want to be patronized. I don’t wan to be pathologized.
When I tell someone I’m transgender, they may think that I just started to transition, or that I’m not very convincing. I don’t look “trans enough” to them. They are not interested in how I think about myself and where I place myself on the gender spectrum. They ask if I am on testosterone and if I’ve had surgery.
When I tell someone I’m butch, they see a masculine woman who fits their stereotype of what a lesbian looks like. They see me as “butch enough.” They are not interested in how I think about myself. If I state that butch and transgender do not have to be mutually exclusive then I need to be prepared for the Spanish Inquisition. From all sides.
Below are a few low jargon, nonjudgmental, and grammatically awkward ways to describe me:
- I always wanted to be a boy and to wear boy’s/men’s clothes, and I’ve always been attracted to women.
- I’ve never been, or wanted to be, feminine and I lean towards the masculine. The women I’ve been attracted to are warm and earthy.
- I’m not comfortable being a girl/woman, yet I am not convinced that becoming a man would make me happier. I am in a good long-term relationship with Donna and I want to keep it that way, even if I have to make compromises.
- I am happiest in the company of dogs and women (especially Gracie and Donna).
CN Lester and Sophia Banks have started a project called Songs Of Ourselves. Their mission is to provide a place where “I allow myself to be who I know myself to be”. It is worth checking out, and if you identify as trans you may want to consider adding yourself into their mix.