Many of you awesome readers have started sending me questions. (Keep the emails coming. I love hearing from you guys!) I write each of you back individually (well, eventually--sometimes I get a backlog--but I'll get there; I promise!), but it occurred to me that I should occasionally post Q&As that might apply to other readers. So here's BW Q&A installment #1! K writes:
I know you didn't identify as a butch until a bit later in life, but do you have any advice on being a butch as a teenager? I just graduated high school, and I've always had difficulty relating with other people because I've never really known any other butches.
I've always been a bit of a butch (hanging with boys, falling in love with girls, and playing a more 'masculine' role in my short lifetime), and my parents have allowed it. They were accepting when I came out to them. Also, during my entire childhood, my peers never gave me guff about it. However, I can't help but feel out of the loop when none of them understand the difficulties of a butch female. I was hoping you'd have some tips on how to find other butches around you (other than the obvious, look for a girl that looks like a boi.)
Being butch as a teen can be tough, and I'm glad to hear that even if they don't always understand you, your friends and parents support you--that's awesome (and all too rare!).
It's strange being the only one you know who's like you, isn't it? Sometimes you probably feel like you're from a different planet (or that everyone else is). Fundamental assumptions about gender are built into virtually every facet of life in most modern cultures--from bathrooms to clothing departments to Little League. When I was growing up, these divisions never made any sense to me--and the REALLY weird part was that they seemed to make perfect sense to everyone else.
Funnily enough, I sort of always understood that I was "butch"--indeed, long before I realized I was gay. There was something visceral about masculinity for me. I never had crushes on girls as a kid or a teen (I was too busy trading baseball cards, reading sci-fi, and playing basketball), but all the other signs of butchness were there. I wasn't just another "tomboy"--it felt permanent. I knew there was something elemental that separated me from my female friends, though I didn't know what it was. You are already way ahead of where many of us were in our teens!
Later in life, when I came out and started to meet other butches, I finally understood what I "was." Indeed, this is one of the many reasons why I identify as butch.
You're right that butch buddies can be super important (see my post about the topic here). And they're not always easy to find when you're young. Here are a few ideas I have for how you might cope. Some involve ways to meet butches; others are just general advice for life as a youngish butch.
I hope other readers will weigh in with their ideas, too. But one more thing: Even after you find your community and your butch buddies and are comfortable in your own skin, don't forget what isolation felt like. Five or ten years from now, a young butch will come up to you at a farmer's market or a baseball game and ask you some inane question to start a conversation. I hope you'll greet her with a smile and a fist bump.