For specific ideas, I've updated the Butch Store with 25 Gift Ideas for Butches, including gifts for sporty butches, student/professional butches, and dapper butches. (Butches, I hope you'll share other ideas with me!)
Additionally, here are some general gift-giving tips geared specifically for straight or gender-binary people who are having trouble finding gifts for lesbians, butches, or other masculine women (much of the advice applies more broadly, too).
- Give gifts without regard to traditional gender. We don't care if something comes from the men's section. We'd love to know that you thought of us, not our sex. There's no need to hunt through the women's department to find the one thing you think we'll like there.
- Be observant. If your lesbian daughter only wears men's sweaters and you give her one from the women's department because you didn't think it was "that feminine," you're probably going to be off the mark. There's a reason she only wears guys' sweaters; factors like cut, length, sizing, etc. are different, even if you don't notice them. (On the other hand, if she wears stuff from both departments, cool.)
- Avoid criticism of our gender presentation cloaked as a gift. If you think we could "dress a little more feminine," giving us a purse is not an effective way to share that sentiment. Gifts are awesome when they show that you get who a person is, not who you wish she was.
- Butches like self-pampering, too. Just because we don't like perfumey stuff doesn't mean we don't like body scrubs and the like. Go for more neutral scents, like mint or eucalyptus (this may mean you look in the guys' section). Many butches also like massages, facials, and other self-care things--just make sure you know whether we'd be comfortable with it (you can ask our girlfriend or friends, too).
- Avoid buying the same thing for all the men or all the women in the family. When I was a kid, men would get flashlights or cologne and women would get bubble bath or chocolate. Personally, I like all of these things, but the fact that gifts were divided along gender lines--rather than tailored to the person receiving them--often made me (a gender-nonconforming little butch in the making) feel uncomfortable. It reinforces gender norms and implicitly says that all people of type x or type y are the same. Would you ever give all your black friends one kind of gift and your white friends another? No! It's incredibly insulting to imagine! Gender is very different from race, of course, but it's useful to think about it this way as a mental exercise: are you seeing the person, or are you seeing the person's sex or gender?
I hope these tips and the butch gifts I suggest are helpful. Meanwhile, I'd welcome questions from anyone trying to buy butch/lesbian gifts, as well as any other tips people would like to share! Does this resonate with you?