To be butch is to be able to pass as lots of things, and at the same time to fail people's little "passing" tests constantly. It's a weird space to be in--a little vortex of contradictions. Here are all the things I, personally, often do not pass as (whether or not I want to).
Things I frequently can't pass as:
1. Female. "Can I help you, sir?"
2. Male. "Can I help you, ma'am?"
3. Cool. Every time I go to SF or NYC, I am reminded of how uncool and unhip I really am. I don't even have any tats or interesting piercings!
4. Boring. Because some people seem to think that all lesbians know where the cool clubs are... Little do they know that my idea of "partying" is to curl up on the couch, trying to prevent my DGF from trouncing me in Words With Friends. Sometimes I "party" HARD.
5. Under 35. I'm starting to get grey hair.
6. Over 35. Because surely someone with my education who is over age 35 would be more established in a career, right?
7. Butch. As in, "You're butchish, but you're not really butch."
8. Cisgender. Because some people who are trying really hard to be trans*-inclusive assume that all gender-nonconformists are on a trans* spectrum.
9. Working or lower-middle class. Even though it's the class background with which I identify, I traded in 90% of my street cred for fancy degrees.
10. Upper middle class. Certain mannerisms and ways of being are imprinted on you at an early age, and you'll never feel like you really belong in certain places... or at least, I won't.
11. Non-genderqueer. Seriously, I had someone say last year, "I identify you as genderqueer." I was like, "Um, congratulations, but you don't get to identify me!"
12. A responsible dog parent. Because my dog literally screams when we are walking away from another dog and she wants to stay to play/fight/sniff.
Name me one thing you can't always pass as.
Butches, what are your favorite ways to be flirted with?
Ah, straight girls... Nearly all of my butch friends have an anecdote or two about dating straight women, trying to date straight women, or straight women trying to date *them*. So when I received the following [edited] email from a BW reader, I decided it was time for an entry about the topic:
Hey there. I am really bad at telling if a girl is straight or gay. I've hung out with this girl a few times and I want to ask her out. She doesn't have a boyfriend. Should I try to date her if she's straight?
LOTS of complications packed into that email, no? In no particular order, here is my (admittedly scant) wisdom on straight women and butches:
I cannot, however, speak to is how straight women respond to dating trans men. I know a handful of trans men-straight women couples who seem to be dating without incident. If any readers want to speak to this (or anything else I've left out), please comment!
Since March, I've been moonlighting as an adjunct community college English professor. (You'll hear more about this in the next installment of Butch 360.) Today I was grading "argument" papers in which students take a side on the topic of their choosing and write persuasively (one hopes) about it. One of my students chose, "Should Gay Couples Be Allowed to Adopt Children?"
Aside from being hideously written and citing literally no sources, the essay was full of inflammatory statements. Highlights include: "If a kid had gay parents, normal people would try to stay away from him," and, "A kid raised by gay parents would grow up with a twisted view of sexual minorities."
As a married, straight-presenting woman teaching college English 6-7 years ago, I sometimes received anti-gay essays. But I'm puzzled that a kid would hand this essay in to an obviously gay teacher (especially since he had a choice of literally 125 topics). A few possible explanations spring to mind: