Hey, I was on the radio yesterday! Here's a link to the show.
The interview improves as it goes along. I was slightly shaken by talking about my divorce right at the start, but I told Emily Cherin, who hosts "All Things Gay," as long as my anonymity was maintained, anything was fair game, so good for her for cutting right to the chase! In any case, it was fabulously fun. I'm just glad no one's said I have a "great face for radio."
One of the things we talked about was when to deviate from deviance. (I'm using "deviant" only in the technical sense: different from the norm.) Many butches deviate from average female gender presentation daily. But should we ever feel compelled to "femme it up" a little? Here are some possibilities, along with my recommendations.
Situation: You're going somewhere where appearing butch might open you to the possibility of physical harm.
Verdict: Femme it up.
Reasoning: For me, safety comes before psychic or physical comfort. If you think you might be in danger somewhere, dress accordingly. And don't bind. Heck, don't even wear a sports bra if you have a choice. That's a dead giveaway. (I know butches who pass as male when they travel. If you want to try that, fine, but this can become very risky if someone figures it out.)
Situation: You're asked to be a bridesmaid at a traditional wedding, and your friend really wants you to wear what the other bridesmaids are wearing.
Reasoning: Maybe if it means more to your friend than anything in the world, it's worth it to suck it up and put on the satin yellow thing she's trying to foist on you. Then again, if she's truly a friend, wouldn't she understand that you'd be more at home in a tux and nice vest? Try reasoning with her, offering to wear what the groomsmen are wearing. If this fails, offer to take another role, like usher. This is a sticky situation, and ultimately, it's your call. If you decide to go for it, I recommend surrendering fashion decisions to the other bridesmaids, closing your eyes, and thinking of England.
Situation: You're visiting your grandparents and your parents ask you to not to wear something masculine.
Verdict: Play nice, but don't femme it up.
Reasoning: Your family loves you no matter what... but sometimes they need to be nudged into accepting gender nonconformity. It's amazing what people can get used to (and sometimes we don't give them enough credit). But if you never push them, they'll never change. That said, maybe you don't need to wear a tie to Thanksgiving. How about khakis and a sweater? You're not compromising your identity, nor will you give Grandma a coronary.
Situation: You're interviewing for a job in a conservative industry.
Verdict: Don't femme it up.
Reasoning: Unless you plan to femme it up every day on the job, don't do it in the interview. A nice dark suit--men's or women's--is fine. (I recommend matching the gender of your suit to the gender of your shoes; your look will be more coherent.) You'll interview better if you're physically comfortable. My interview go-to outfit is a dark grey men's suit, black Ecco men's shoes, and a lavender or light green men's dress shirt (tie optional). Would you really want to work for an employer who balks at hiring a butch?
What's the toughest decision YOU'VE ever had to make re: whether to femme it up? What did you do?