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From the opposite perspective

Here is an excerpt from an article which Calie features in T central this week. The article is written by a lesbian woman called Roey Thorpe and it’s titled “Where have all the Butches Gone?”

“In the company of lesbians of my generation and older, I frequently hear conversation about how much things have changed since we were young. And invariably, someone asks: Where have all the butches gone?

The question is driven in part by nostalgia, and in part by discomfort with what seems to have been a shift in the way young lesbians think about gender.
And the first question often leads to others: Why are all the butches becoming men? Why can’t they understand that gender is a social construct, and that women don’t have to conform to a feminine ideal? Isn’t that what we were fighting for — a world in which women could wear tool belts and neckties and do anything we damn well please, without the constraints of gender?

At its very core, this was the vision of the feminist movement, and lesbians more than anyone understood how transformative this could be.

Years ago, I asked the same questions, but today, this conversation makes me uncomfortable. Because I am of this older generation, I have seen things change —and not change — for a long time.

I have, in my life, loved many butches. My relationships and affairs have almost always been with masculine women and, more recently, with trans men as well.

In my experience, for as long as I have found myself in intimate circumstances with butches/studs/masculine-identified women — from way back when I was too young to be in the bars where I was meeting and going home with them — a curious thing happens. Once there is enough trust established, I become witness to a moment of confession. The confession goes something like this: "I don’t know how to explain this, but I don’t exactly feel like a woman. I mean, I’m butch, and that’s close, but honestly, I’m not sure what I am....."

So what is happening here?

These butch women were able to function in society because their manner of dress and behavior, while not celebrated or encouraged, were at least more readily tolerated than that of men wearing dresses. They were effectively able to lead their lives as virtual trans men minus the testosterone shots and the surgery.

This is of course the double standard of our society in that a man in a dress is to be ridiculed but a woman in men's slacks and shirt is at worst a butch. In other words, to aspire to be male is admirable while to aspire to be female is shameful.

Thorpe mentions in the article that some of these women were fighting against the feminine constraints of how to dress and behave that society put on them. She states:

“Why can’t they understand that gender is a social construct, and that women don’t have to conform to a feminine ideal?”

Should the same not be true for males then?

But what has prompted at least some of these women to become trans men? I think that the increasing acceptance of transgender people in our society has emboldened the resolve of those with gender disphoria to do what they have always wanted to; namely live as the men that they have always aspired to be.

While it is true that statistically more males are diagnosed with gender disphoria than women this could have something to do with the fact that all fetuses start off life as females. But indeed there are also women who suffer from gender disphoria.

For me, this phenomenon shows that with the higher profiles of transgender people in society and with the slow but increasing acceptance of gender variance, we are seeing people do what they have always wanted to do but were afraid to.

This may not always lead to full transition and indeed some will live in a gender state that feels comfortable for them. Some transmen for example, will live without penile implants just as some MtF transsexuals currently live without bottom surgery.


  1. This is an interesting concept. Males with any level of GID have long questioned why women could wear pants and other men's styles but the opposite was not acceptable.
    Perhaps we are moving towards a state where people can live as they choose. This is a major societal shift that will take time but even small steps provide positive signals.

  2. Pat I would like to think that one day we could arrive at a place where we could have a higher degree of tolerance so that not everyone feels they have to conform and transition in order to do so. For some living between genders instead of opting for transition could be an acceptabe option and they need not be persecuted for it

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  5. @aqv, are you going to include some pictures of women dressed as men? You're being hypocritical by not doing so if you really want to support a rigid differentiation between the sexes. Can you explain why it's a positive thing for women to dress as men and a negative for men to dress as women?


  6. This is a very interesting question is'nt it Lindsay because women have had more leeway with their gender presentation but at the same time much less societal priviledge.

    My only point here is that for people like me who are disphoric and want to present as female from time to time, society is increasingly fine with it.

    Also I wanted to illustrate that its not only disphoric men who transition but also women as well. They were perhaps harder to identify as disphorics because they were more readily camouflaged in society as butch females.

    Me going to work in a dress would have been interpreted entirely different. But this is the way the world is.

    I repeat that since this is not a catching epidemic, people will adapt to whatever leeway they have. I once knew a hairdresser who was male and presented as female on the job. he was at ease with it as well as the staff and the customers. More power to him as far as I am concerned.

  7. I do like your point Lindsay about the double standard. I once had a young sales girl tell me that directly that she found it great that I felt comfortable presenting in female garb as much as some females prefer presenting in male garb.

  8. whatever works for you I say given your permissible circumstances. I have found something that works for me and I am going with it. Others have their own methods.

  9. however if that floats their boats why not? on the weekends perhaps...

  10. its not about combining the genders but just having more fluidity for those of us who are not quite full blown transsexuals but still feel the need to present as the other gender or for some transsexuals to partially transition such as not undergoing complete transition or living full time as the other gender without any surgery or hormones. Many people have successfully done this in history. Billy Tipton comes to mind but there are a miriad of others.

  11. People should be able to wear what ever clothing they're comfortable in with out society making judgements about them. As long as it doesn't violate the decency standards of the culture.

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  13. I don't agree AQV. The article points to the phenomenon of butch women becoming trans men because some of these women are gender disphoric. In the past they remained physically women but were able to virtually live as men because society allowed them much more latitude than disphoric men would have. The author bemoans why they just don't simply stay women and not transition. The reason some of these women do transition is that they feel like men inside and so they try to do something about it.

    I cannot dress as feminine as these women were able to dress masculine because society used to and still does frown on men dressing like women.

  14. And that was the whole point of my blog entry. However the latitude that both genders have today in their choice of gender presentation is greater than its ever been which is actually a good thing.

  15. "What I find interesting is how both you guys miss what for me is the main thrust of the essay. The point as I see it is that butch lesbians are being lost in the cacophony of "trans" and "transition"?????

    I completely disagree in the assertion these women are lost. They know exactly what they are doing because they are doing the same thing that a MtF would be doing so your statement makes no sense. Gender disphoria exists in both the genders.

    Once again the main thrust of what she is saying is that these women won the right to dress and behave as they please so why are they becoming men? the answer is that some of them are trans/disphoric and they never self identified as women.

  16. And again my own added point to her article was to say that the disphoric butch women would'nt need to go to their HR rep to ask if they could stop wearing makeup and dresses and substitute them for men's dress shirts and pants but I (as a disphoric male)would get saucered eyed HR people trying to deal with my wanting to wear a dress and heels to work. Simply pointing out the interesting way our society works and how things don't always make sense.

    Mind you Stana of femulate fame who recently came out to her boss was told lately that she could wear whatever she wants to work so there you go.

  17. and I do fundamentally agree with Lindsay that if you are dressed appropriately and not for shock value, you should be able to wear what you want and in fact legally you are. I inquired with my own company and they would have no issue with it provided I followed the same guidelines that apply to any woman in an office environment. For a number of reasons I have decided not to do so primarily because my intent is not to live and dress full time and because I have worked here in male mode for 11 years.

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  19. @aqv

    It really seems you support a double standard that does make you a hypocrite:

    "I am very familiar with real strong women, some of which might be gay or bi, that simply dress anyway they feel without any thought whatsoever as to the "gender-appropriateness" of their "presentation".

    So it's ok for women to do this, but if you replace the word woman in your quote with man all of a sudden that person is "silly", "ludicrous" and "offensive". And you've used worse terms than those in previous posts. While you call women who do this strong and independent. What you're saying is sexism at it's worst. It's saying that masculine traits in women are good and feminine traits in men are bad. But you seem to be too bigoted to see the illogic of your thinking.

  20. there most definitely is a flaw in her logic Lindsay. The fact cannot be denied that some genetic born females do indeed have gender disphoria and they do transition that is a proven fact. Maybe not in the numbers of MtFs but they exist nevertheless.

    One of the things that made Blanchard's work so unscientific is that he completely ignored FtM transsexuals.

  21. but society and mankind is not based on logic I'm afraid. I was just trying to poke holes into the obvious and most glaring examples of how biases are built into our thinking.

  22. I am fortunate to be with a genetic woman who looks past those biases and accepts me as I am. I wish there were more like her and I intend to do my best to hold on to her by not screwing up again.

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  26. I completely got that AQV but what you fail to also see is that gender disphoria is the issue here not the orientation. These transmen still love women but FEEL like males. Just as many MtF also prefer women even after transition.

    This lesbian is reacting the same way a woman would react to losing her husband to transition. Its rather obvious isn't it?

    I don't think you realize just how much your own bias filter affects you because time and time again you approach things from exactly the same angle. So much so that I can always see you coming.

    Its normal as we're all human.

    My intent is not to ban anyone provided we discuss civily and intelligently.

  27. I don't feel I use male trans bias but simple logic. Your own double standard statements here show a huge bias against those "men in dresses" of yours and you see them everywhere.

    Again we're all humsn.

  28. Yes I think like a man else do you want me to think? However I am trying to stay balanced and fair because I wish everyone well.

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  30. @aqv - It has nothing to do with "manly claims to their own male version of "womanhood"". It has everything to do with men having the right to act and to dress feminine just like women have the right to act and dress masculine. Currently you and most of society are okay with women doing it. We are working on the male side and things are changing although not as fast as most of us would like.

    In my experience most TS's are quite supportive of this. You are one of the rare exceptions. And I find it really surprising giving your transsexual history. I would expect you to be totally understanding and supportive.

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  32. @aqv

    "What I object to are your, "accompanying demands and assumptions of entitlement to those few rights and protections that have been traditionally reserved exclusively for women". "

    I'm really confused by this statement. When have I made any demands? Or assumptions of entitlement? What rights and protections are reserved exclusively for women? These seem to be a myths that you started and you've repeated them enough times that you actually believe them.

    I believe that we are all human beings and that we should be allowed to live our lives in the manner that makes us happiest. And we shouldn't have to fear what other people think or say about us. I am acutely aware of the prejudices and injustice that occur everyday and I try my hardest to correct the ones I can. I don't ROFLMAO at anyone, I respect them as long as they respect me. You consistently show a lack or respect to the trans people here and on other sites.

    You obviously do have something against TV's, TGs and GQ's because you constantly say bad things about them, make tasteless jokes about them and treat them with derision. It's obvious to everyone here except for you.

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  34. of couse I can see that AQV. But I am not asking for "womanhood". This blog deals with gender disphoria has that not ben clear from the outset??

  35. and yes it has caused me suffering and turmoil but no longer. If you think that I am those asking for ststehood for gender disphrics then you are barking up the wrong tree. This is why for me your mantra becomes tiresome because it goes to a place that does not interest me in the least.

    Given that statement however you should take a more live and let live stance. It does'nt interest me in the least how you live your life becauise that is your business and you should return the favor to others by doing same.

    Lindsay has'nt been put in prison yet or even arrested so I assume there has been no law breaking to date.

  36. "What you refuse to understand is that I could not care less how you dress or "present". It really does not matter to me beyond the obvious suffering and turmoil it causes to you and those in your life" and if that were true AQV you would not be coming back here incessantly repeating your message of how we want "womanhood". Sorry but I ain't buying it.

    I still think you are an angry person but have the right intentions.

  37. "It has nothing to do with "manly claims to their own male version of "womanhood"". It has everything to do with men having the right to act and to dress feminine just like women have the right to act and dress masculine" - Lindsay

    I fundamentally agree with that statement. it is each person's business how they act or dress as long as they are'nt harming anyone.

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  39. @aqv

    I've addressed your "issues" before but you seem to ignore them. I guess you hope that if you berate me enough I'll eventually come around to your point of view, but here goes again:

    "Do you not believe that women have a right to be free from male company when they are attending to their personal needs or hygiene?"

    As long as males are successfully passing as female and they are behaving like normal females then they should be able to take care of their hygiene with the other women. There's a good chance they'd be physically abused if caught in the mens room. And it's hard to comprehend how you could keep such a person out.

    "Do you not believe that a woman has the right to refuse the sexual advances of a male despite his superior strength which he could use to over power her and force himself upon her to gratify his own need."

    This is called rape and is already taken care of by society and it's laws.

    "How about your demand that I recognize your male bodied "womanhood"?"

    Isn't this something you demand too? You weren't born a physical woman. I'm sure there are cis-women out there who we be abhorred to know they are sharing a bathroom with transsexual, either pre or post-op. They would see you as some sort of pervert. And we know you aren't. We would fight for your right to be called a woman. Oh, there is a question you can answer for me, when is a transsexual officially recognized as a woman?

    All I really demand is for people to recognize me for what I am, another human being, and to not treat or think of me badly for something I didn't ask for. The only cure I've found for my dysphoria (besides transitioning) is to just be my self. If I try to suppress it I just get more and more miserable. The reaction of people like you makes it worse. It seems to me you get some sort of perverse joy at insulting us.

    Personally I don't know anything about my "community's" demand to invade women's spaces. It's not a issue I've ever had to worry about. But as I said before if someone is successfully passing as female how would you discover that they weren't? As I joked before you'd have to issue a license, or maybe have a labia check at every public bathroom (something like a fingerprint scanner :-))

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  41. this is where you always fail AQV and your frustration and anger shows through. You make for easy bait because by now everyone knows your hot buttons. Lindsay has made some excellent points above and yes some genetic women have problems with transsexuals (my own mother included).

    Conversely I find genetic women today have far less problems with TG/TS than those of your generation so things are improving all the time.

  42. Lindsay is not looking for "womanhood" which is the trap you constantly fall into here for some undetermined reason. Lindsay (as I do) realizes this is about gender disphoria and is trying to live in a way that allows for its management. In my case its crossdressing for others like Linsday it includes a dosage of HRT.

    I am afraid this is your achilles heel AQV and you can't get past it.

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  44. Your achilles heel is that you keep associating that requirement with us requesting some sort of male "womanhood" which appears to be your own invention. No one has ever said anything of the sort and yet time and time again you keep bringing it up. Its become your own personal myopia.

  45. I don't get this sort of mantra being repeated by N, my four sisters, my ex, or any other woman who knows I do what I do. You may want to reflect on why you have such a focus when they do not.

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  47. unsatisfactory response AQV and not particularly insightful. This "need" you so succinctly describe is known as gender disphoria. Look it up on google and you will see that no one knows where it originates. I won't ban you from posting here but will soon simply stop responding.

  48. as far as you understanding my "condition" why dont you enlighten us with your viewpoint? perhaps I can give you a guest posting and then proceed to shoot down its logic.

  49. I wouldnt presume to call other people assholes when your own behavior here has been less than stellar...if it $%ucks like a duck....

    1. So u less someone agrees with you, on everything, even as you waffle, stumble and "evolve" through contradictory positions, thy will be summarily insulted and then banned.

      How open minded is that?


    2. Is this fair, clear and open minded thinking or.......

      Is this an example of clouded, biased thinking resulting in anger and vitriol?

      "For the record gender disphoria is an illness which you succumbed to but I will not."

      "You are one twisted transsexual and truly deranged."

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