I realize that this may be a touchy subject, so I’m going to make it clear right away that I mean no disrespect to anyone. It isn’t really my style to purposely hurt anyone or to judge anyone. My intention right now is to delve into a topic of discussion that I’ve had recently with a few people close to me.
As a butch woman, I have to deal with a great deal of prejudice from a lot of people. The direction from which this prejudice comes is sometimes astonishing to me. Other lesbians who are more of a feminine persuasion and are attracted to the same type of feminine woman have a tendency to talk to me like I’m dirt sometimes. They do not understand me and often go out of their way to say things like, “you are just trying to be a man” or “if I wanted to be with a man, I’d choose a man” and so on and so on. I’m not going to get into all the things that being butch means, but it certainly does not mean that I want to be a man. I consider myself to be a combination of masculine and feminine energy that compliment each other in ways that bless me in my life. I feel that I’m lucky to be me.
I’ve grown to believe that sexuality is a very fluid thing. I believe that we are all capable of loving men or women, regardless of who we are. We may never act on it, but I honestly believe that many people would if they hadn’t already been taught by society that it is somehow “wrong” to do so. I also believe that this early programming has seriously affected lesbians in many ways. Sexuality simply cannot be placed into a box of choice.
I believe that many years ago, lesbians thought that they had to give-up their femininity in order to be gay. It was almost expected that women act more masculine in those days because they were a lesbian; society had a vision of what a lesbian was and that was anything but feminine. Many women felt they had to give-up dreams of having children or families in order to live up to some sort of ideal. Only in the last twenty to thirty years are we realizing that we don’t have to choose one or the other. We can be lesbians and be parents. We can paint our nails, wear heels or we can wear jeans and a ball cap. We truly can have it all.
As we (lesbians) have evolved, there seems to have become some sort of a split with many sub-groups. There are now so many labels that I personally cannot keep up with them and I certainly imagine that heterosexuals are confused as well. Being butch, I’m noticing that more and more butch women are gravitating towards transitioning from female to male in larger numbers than ever. I notice that there is a rise in interest in binding, top surgery and a desire to even mimic male behavior patterns more so than ever before. I’m a little puzzled by this because I’ve always been proud to be lesbian and even more proud to be butch. I’ve always felt that I was better than men because I could embrace the masculine while having the brains to know better behavior. I am comfortable with my masculine nature but I am also very comfortable to be a woman underneath it all. I embrace my softer side; the part of me that enjoys cuddling and having a good cry from time to time. I feel that I have managed to take the best of both worlds – male and female – and make them uniquely my own. I believe in respecting women, holding the door for them, getting the chair for them and holding them in only the way a butch woman can. I also believe that it’s okay for me to cry, be soft and enjoy putting my head on someone’s shoulder sometimes and showing my vulnerability. This makes me feel whole.
My concern is that because transitioning is so easy to do now (and so common) that it may just be too easy. Just like Botox and boob jobs, people now think nothing of taking “T” and growing a beard. Honestly, I’m concerned that someone in their twenties is not fully equipped to make this decision. Before some of you get your boxers in a bunch and tell me that the difference is that you see yourself as a guy in the mirror, let me cut you off and tell you that there was a time that I did too.
You see, when I was much younger I considered whether or not that the choice to transition would be right for me. I didn’t take it lightly and I went through a phase where I probably had “penis envy” in a way. I used to think that I was in the wrong body but not because I truly felt that way on my own – society was making me feel that way. I am saying that I was slowly conditioned to look at myself the way others did…I had short hair and I had big hands and feet. People assumed I was a man and still do. I’m often called “sir” out in public. The fact is that it doesn’t bother me. I am secretly pleased to know I am a female underneath it all. By the time I was in my thirties I had come to a point where I learned to like myself exactly as I was.
I think all human beings go through this phase, but because it has become so popular to blame our sexuality for unhappiness, many butch lesbians think that transitioning will make them happy or whole. I’m not entirely convinced that this is the case for most. That said, there are people who honestly do need to transition in order to live a whole life; they are truly mentally the opposite sex. I’m not disavowing anyone here. I just wonder if it has gotten too easy, like taking Xanax instead learning to deal with your life? Has transitioning become the latest plastic surgery fad and is it being done because doctors see it as a way to make a lot of money? Are we making it too “cool” to do?
I worry that fewer and fewer women live as butch because they don’t see that as a viable option anymore. Pressure from society and from those we might hear referred to as “lipstick lesbians” make us feel unwanted by our own community at times. Is this what makes us feel that the only option is to conform to what the world thinks we should be? I wonder where are the proud butch women now? It seems they are being replaced by a younger generations of “bois” and female to males in transition. I’m concerned if this is because we are placing too much pressure on young butches, making them feel that they need to be something other than what they are. I’d love to hear comments from others on this.
Again, I stress that I am not in any way trying to talk bad about those who choose to transition. I’ve always been very supportive and have friends who are in transition and are fully transitioned. I just feel that this is a valid argument that needs to be discussed and I wonder if we need to be having this discussion more openly rather than just automatically telling our friends to go ahead and transition?
A friend of mine has a friend who is in the hospital right now, possibly dying from an infection that is the result of a compromised immune system – a side effect of transition and hormone replacement therapy. This happens in some cases, as well as other medical complications. There are also many other things to consider, such as never being able to afford bottom surgery – which is also not perfected yet. Someone may start the transition and never fully complete it for many reasons. Personally, I could not handle being in this sort of sexual limbo or giving up sexual satisfaction…which is the case most of the time. I’d really like to hear the opinions of my readers on this. Please, keep it respectful as people from all walks of life read this blog. Thanks!