_Here are three excerpts from reader emails and comments this month:
"I wish I was born a man, but I don't want to be trans. What gives?"
"I don't want to be a guy, I am a woman, but I want top surgery, or at least smaller breasts. I guess I might be genderqueer?"
"I don't get why all butch lesbians aren't trans. Why not go all the way?"
One underlying commonality is that all three readers are trying to reconcile a female body with the desire to have "masculine" attributes. They all seem to assume that if a ciswoman (someone who was born biologically female and identifies as female) wants attributes that we associate with maleness, she secretly, somewhere deep down, wants to be a man. Or at least, they suggest that being a woman with certain male attributes undercuts a self-identification as female.
As a butch who has great respect for trans men but no desire to be one, I have a few answers to the "why aren't all butches trans" question.
At the risk of sounding trite ("we're-all-beautiful-and-unique-and-special-like-freaking-snowflakes-kum-bah-yah"), I hope you'll embrace your woman-ness or man-ness or genderqueer-ness or whatever-you-are-ness without regard to culturally imposed ideas of what a man or a woman is. That doesn't just include mainstream culture, but queer culture as well: our music, magazines, friends, and community. Question people who think inside the box. But also question those who claim to think outside it. Because in the end, your wild and precious identity* is yours alone.
* Apologies to Mary Oliver