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What I Hear

September 12, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

“Butches don’t transition” = “You can’t be butch if you’ve considered it.”

“X type of people don’t belong in butch spaces.” = “And neither do you.”

“Butches only” = “Harrison, don’t be ridiculous, you don’t consider yourself butch, do you? You’re wearing women’s pants!”

“Aren’t butches kind of…hard? That’s not you.” = “Aren’t butches kind of ugly/unkind/unfriendly? That’s not you.”

“Where have all the butches gone?” = “Cause you ain’t it, kiddo.”

“Elder butches worry about butch flight.” = “Because they see you and think you’re not real. You’re lesser than they were.”

“Butches and FTMs are totally different things.” = “The mentorship you have received from transmen is not valid or worth your time. The friendships you have forged with them are not real.”

“Aren’t you kind of sensitive to worry about being excluded all the time? Maybe the fact that you worry so much means that you don’t really belong here. Maybe you should be tougher. Maybe you should be stronger. Buck up. Be stiff. Be silent.”

I’m not trying to start beef or drama; I just want to be able to write down what goes through my head when I hear certain things. It is important to me to chronicle these insecurities. First, so that I can look back and hopefully, see how I’ve changed in future years. Second, so that others can lend their guidance to me as I work through these fears. And lastly, so that if others feel the same way, they know that someone else is going through it too.

Categories: Basic Information
  1. G
    September 12, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Making a TOTAL assumption (because I like to make an ass out of myself), I think we’ve all heard/felt that at some point. Just stay true to yourself. And like I said to you the other day, you belong. There’s no doubt about that.

    And a word about the mentorship piece: just because someone may or may not be different doesn’t mean they can’t be mentors. If it helps you grow, it’s valid. Some of the most critical mentoring and guidance I’ve received has been from femmes and straight men.

    • September 13, 2010 at 12:15 pm

      Thanks again for both of those notes

      I agree about mentorship. I have so few butches in my (real) life – in internet life, I have quite a few butches to look up to! – that I inevitably look somewhere else. I often think that my girlfriend is a kind of mentor, best friend, sex partner, and oh yeah, girlfriend, all wrapped up in one delectable package.

  2. September 12, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Hi, Harrison. I’m sorry that I don’t really have any guidance for you, but I wanted to respond nevertheless. I think I’ve experienced some similar insecurities, even though I’m not a butch. I identify as trans, even though I’m not exactly a transman and also wouldn’t exactly call myself FTM (it’s complicated – of course, it sometimes seems like gender always is). Regarding the comment about butches and FTMs, I just wanted to say that I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and it’s just really meant a lot to me because a lot of what you say really resonates with me. I see myself in a lot of what you write, even though we identify in different ways.

    Thank you for writing your blog. I wish you all the best with working through your insecurities.

    • September 13, 2010 at 12:03 pm

      You’re very kind. I like the idea of all of us gender critical people out there, hopefully connecting and touching each other’s lives in positive ways, subtly putting to rest all the pain our genders have caused us each time we do.

      It IS complicated! I’m probably going to make a romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep about the thousands of untold gender identities and it will be called “It’s Complicated”.

  3. me
    September 12, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    You have a fabulous (and popular) blog. You write honestly and well and your thought processes are interesting. I’m 40, I’m in south africa – things are so different here.

    • September 13, 2010 at 12:06 pm

      I’m so glad to hear you say that; thank you! The popularity is a surprise, but really I think of it as just me and perhaps 115 of my closest friends… Seriously, though, when the butchosphere fights, I get just about as upset as I do watching my family fight.

      I think we are quite different! I know that you have commented sometimes and I’ve been like, “why, that isn’t my experience at all!”. But that is to be expected and I am very happy to have people with different experiences commenting on here. I think I didn’t realize just how much of a community I would encounter online. I’m so, so happy that I have. It’s been critical for my growth.

  4. Kaitlin
    September 12, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts of yours, I definitely have similar ones in my own head in regards to being femme.
    The thing I constantly have to remind myself is that femme (or butch, for you) is so specific to ONLY ME. It is what I make it, it’s mine, I own it in my own personal way. I know it’s hard to not let others ruin our space but it’s also so important.

    • September 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

      It’s quite interesting to me that femmes have these thoughts too! It shouldn’t be surprising though. I think it is a subtle form of bias on my part. Maybe I am thinking, “Oh, but femme comes so naturally to those who were socialized as females.” but that doesn’t really give credit to the incredibly transgressive nature of “femme”, does it?

      But maybe it’s just that nothing could ever shake my seeing the femmes in my life as femme (for so long as they consider themselves femme). To me, their femme shines through, whether they are wearing lipstick, or pants, or my clothes. I think it must just be a touch I recognize, no matter what. The way they talk to me or carry themselves. I don’t know. I always see it in femmes. Often I tell myself that they see it in me too…whatever It is.

  5. me
    September 14, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Well, life in africa is v different – my favourite butch on earth is a woman who lives in a village, whose question at a recent seminar (her village is seriously african/rural, but prob not exactly how you imagine – many ppl here have cellphones but no water – one is cheap and available..) was simply “how can I get the people around me to just ask questions so I can explain who and what I am”

    The community is amazing – and amazingly diverse. Lol I’m also middle aged now and that changes things too.

    Love your blog — keep asking questions/thinking of answers.

  6. September 14, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Hey, Harrison. God, yes, I’ve heard so many of those things. I’m still astounded thta after 23 years, I *still* hear anti-butch things like “all butches are hard and unfriendly.” Sigh. That’s like saying I can’t be a lesbian because I’m pretty(ish) and I can run in heels. WhatEV. One of the things that I love about your blog is that you’re vulnerable in ways that I find very difficult. I bet you will find your way through these insecurities.

    • September 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

      I want to say something like, “Thank you for loving and being supportive of butches, thank you for saying you love my blog, and I’m certain you don’t need to add an ‘ish’ after ‘pretty’,” but all I can think is:

      Wow! You can run in heels?!

  7. DK
    September 19, 2010 at 5:37 am

    Aren’t you kind of sensitive to worry about being excluded all the time? Maybe the fact that you worry so much means that you don’t really belong here. Maybe you should be tougher. Maybe you should be stronger. Buck up. Be stiff. Be silent.

    This is the one I crash into a lot, and it hurts. Also, it sucks. Because seriously, how much stiffness and strength and silence can you have before you shatter? And how much damage would it do if we all just shut up, kept our heads down, and didn’t talk about ourselves?

    None of us would know what we were, for starters. Unless you listened to the unkind people who like to scream it out of car windows.

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