Tag Archives: femme

Catch a Wave: My 2014 Swimsuit Challenge

It is 10° F in New York. I am surfing the internet for swimsuits. Gracie is curled up on the floor in a patch of late afternoon sunlight. I’d like to know what she is dreaming about.

swimwear-butches-likeI have the perfect wardrobe for January; for 12 inches of snow, slush moats, and arctic windchill. I’ve got high-tech long underwear, three different types of fleece jackets, a down sweater and a down jacket, lightweight and heavy weight Gore-Tex shells, boot socks,  windproof gloves and moisture wicking glove liners, neck gaiters, wool beanies, and insulated waterproof work boots. I can mix and match for any  winter weather condition. If you wanted to throw an outdoor party in January I’d have the ideal outfit. I’m an urban slumberjack.

Last year I waited until June to think about swimming. I swore it would be the last season that I’d wear a black racerback Speedo in the water, topped by a pair of quick-dry shorts and a damp T-shirt on the sand. A black racerback is the butch equivalent of a little black dress. It is elegant and understated, but I don’t wear dresses. I promised myself to start looking for genderqueer appropriate beach wear in January. This is my 2014 swimsuit challenge. Continue reading

Sticks and Stones

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.

No seat at the gender tableStone 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. Continue reading

Masculinity and Misogyny

“I’m not misogynist, I love women.” As soon as the words came out of my mouth I regretted saying them. I was trying to convince Donna that there was nothing inherently misogynist or sexist about being either butch or transgender. That being masculine did not mean hating or objectifying women. Or did it?

This is not about ogling women on the street or tallying sexual conquests. It is about the insidious microaggressions in everyday life that I am guilty of. I am impatient. I get annoyed. I do not like to consider the possibility that I might be wrong about anything. Including being misogynist. Continue reading

What Do Butches Smell Like?

It started when I ran out of shampoo. I walked over to Molton Brown to get a new bottle. Molton Brown makes liquid soap, shampoo, and body wash products. They are all scented. Very British. I used to shop for personal care products in the health food store. I got turned on to Molton Brown in a bed and breakfast we stayed at in Bath, England, in 2002. Donna could not get me out of the shower because I was sudsing up with the comps. I got hooked.

what-do-butch-lesbians-smell-like

I like Brooklyn Brewery beer, but I don’t want to wear it.

I hadn’t used strongly scented products before. My Dad smelled of Brylcreem, Dutch Masters cigars, and Miller High Life. I didn’t want to smell like him. I wanted to smell good, but I didn’t know how. Continue reading

Report Back from Butch Voices 2013

Butch-Streetcar-San-FranciscoI’ve got a lot spinning around in my head from the Butch Voices 2013 conference. I want to share two highlights (other than just being around several hundred butches for a weekend). First, Sinclair Sexsmith reading their piece “Unsolicited Advice to a New Butch.”  Click on the link and read it. Now. Second, the discussion on butch isolation in Diane Sabin and Elana Dykewomon’s workshop on Old Butches.

I almost didn’t go to the Old Butches workshop. I didn’t want to be with a bunch of 1970’s era female identified and potentially trans-phobic butches. I didn’t want to hear a lot of groaning about pronouns and why we all can’t be happy being called she. I did not want to have to explain myself at Butch Voices.

I know that wanting to avoid something is a good reason to go do it, even though the other workshops had a certain cachet. So I skipped the Flirt LIke You Mean It! workshop and went for the Old Butches instead. My reward was getting to sit next to the fabulous Jewelle Gomez. Yes, there were femmes at the conference too. Continue reading

Butch Voices

The-Butch-Trans-TrolleyTomorrow I am going to San Francisco for a long weekend. The excuse is that I am going to the Butch Voices conference in Oakland. The truth is that I miss feeling like I am part of a community; I need my tribe.

I’ve drifted out of my old communities (pacifist, AIDs activist, queer). I let friendships lapse, let Donna take control of our social life (not a criticism because otherwise we’d have no social life at all), and I spend too much time with Gracie at the dog run. I am lonely and need some contact. Continue reading

Traveling to Guatemala

travelling_while_butch_in_guatemalaDonna and I are about to embark on a three-week vacation to Guatemala. The vacation will be og-less. No dog, no blog. Donna will have me all to herself. You will get a three-week break in posts. Gracie will spend three weeks with our dog walker.

I am hesitant to go on vacation. I like to travel. I know I am lucky. It is a luxury to have a job and vacation time and a partner who likes to travel. I have a bunch of books I’ve stockpiled to read. I’ve been reading up on Guatemalan history and Mayan culture. I am hesitant because my dysphoria increases when I am out of my comfort zone. Guatemala is out of my comfort zone.

This is my first time traveling as Jamie. My new passport says Jamie, my driver’s license says Jamie, my credit cards say Jamie, my tickets say Jamie. Donna even says Jamie 95% of the time. Last year when we went to India, I went as Amy. I waited to change my name until Donna was comfortable with me taking on a new name; I did not want to jeopardize the relationship anymore than I already had by saying I was transgender. It has been a rough year.

When Donna met me I was a baby butch. Now I am a middle-aged butch who also identifies as transgender. The process has been hard for her. She has had to wrap her brain around a lot of concepts she didn’t expect to be thinking about. She has had to consider whether she wants to go through this with me (whatever the “this” is). A lot of women go running in the other direction. She is standing her ground.

I never traveled before I met Donna. I don’t come from a traveling family unless you consider running from a pogrom traveling. I was raised to think that travel was what ostentatious rich people did to show off their jewelry. And, since we lived in the greatest city on earth (New York), with the greatest museum in the world (The Met), there was no reason to go anywhere else. You could see all the world’s wonders for free, right here. Donna changed that. She got me going.

Is_this_a_bus_for_a_butch_trans_blogger?I need to remember that I travel to get out of my rut. To shake up my queer New York centric view of the world. To think about other people’s history instead of my own.

Three weeks of traveling independently is a lot of time together. A lot of time to talk about our relationship and my butch-trans*-iness. Donna has always wanted to go to Guatemala. She is interested in Mayan indigenous culture and textiles. I am interested in Mayan ruins and colonial architecture. Donna will be open and charming; she will chat up other travelers and any locals who speak English. What will I be?

Donna taught me to travel light. I wish I could do it spiritually, but I will settle for the physical part. I need to winnow my stuff down so that it fits in my pack. I have sudden urges to buy new items for a trip, as if a new shirt or new sneakers will magically make everything OK, and my anxiety and dysphoria will disappear. I know the opposite is true; to reduce my dysphoria I should take old, proven, comfortable, favorites. There is a pile of clothing on my bed. I can only fit a quarter of it in the pack. A worn black T-shirt and broken-in jeans are my equivalent of a blankie. They are probably all I will wear no matter what else I bring.

Lastly, there is how I will be seen on vacation, and the tension that arises in our relationship when I am with Donna and I am read as male (Donna is not amused by this at all). From her vantage point we are an obvious butch/femme couple and she wants to keep it that way. Donna will be standing her ground in Guatemala; but I feel it shifting subtly under me.