Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sinclair Sexsmith's Symposium on Butch Identity

Photo by Del Rapier

So, I’m a wee bit late with posting this but wanted to get it up anyway.  (Please refrain from the ‘get it up' jokes. Wait. On second thought, go right ahead. Heh.)

Towards the end of last month the incredibly talented writer, Sinclair Sexsmith, posted on her blog that she was beginning another project that was yet to be named but needed other writers help with it.  She started a symposium with a writing prompt and the following is my contribution.

What is butch? How do you define butch? What do you love about it? What does it mean to you?

Last month I attended the Butch Voices Conference here in Portland and learned that the term ‘butch’ can be defined in so many ways.  For me, it’s simply a more masculine centered in identity. 

No matter how much I am against putting myself in a box by claiming the title of ‘butch’, I have learned to be much more ok with it after attending the conference and talking to others about the term and what it means to them.  You see, the thing about words and titles is that you can mold and define them for yourself. 

I am just me.  A boots, jeans and t-shirt wearing, motorcycle riding, butch lesbian with a buzz cut.  I like to think of myself as mostly a guy but I’m not.  I’m a woman.  I like things that are stereotypically things that guys like and I present as masculine but that’s only a small part of who I am.  I am a complicated being filled with thoughts and feelings and likes and dislikes with a little bit of mystery locked in there. 

I love the idea that, as a butch woman who often is mistaken for a man, I can travel between genders almost fluidly.  I can bind and pack and still feel like a woman.  An incredibly empowered and strong woman. 

Being butch means I challenge gender stereotypes on a daily basis simply by existing in this world. I’ve grown comfortable and almost proud of the fact that I am called “Sir” on a daily basis.  On the outside I may look like a man, but under these boots, jeans and t-shirt, I am all woman.  Comfortable and confident in these clothes and in this skin.  I am me.


  1. Well put, Wendi. I happen to know that Sinclair is still gathering links for the Symposium, so be sure to email her with yours.

  2. Thanks, Kyle! Already sent it!

  3. "I like to think of myself as mostly a guy but I’m not. I’m a woman."

    I feel the exact same way, but I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not.

  4. One of my favorite things about butch is that part: "I am a complicated being filled with thoughts and feelings and likes and dislikes with a little bit of mystery locked in there."

    I love the complicated.

    And as I read more and more of the responses, I'm loving the Symposium more and more. It's lovely to see you "guys" celebrated for the unique creatures you are.

  5. It has been a delight to read the self definitions and the descriptions of butch.

    As a queer person and one whom others have been unable to label, upon reading these posts it is clear that tho my demeanor and presentation defies the dominant paradigm, I am not butch.
    Secure in myself,
    Rejecting of norms.
    and always open to new understanding.
    Thanks go out to you and the other writers who have shared your
    various wisdoms on the subject....and that which I am not helps define who I am....therefore as I learn who you are I discover both you and myself.

  6. J-Rob, I think that's something you have to figure out for yourself. For me, it's a good thing. I accept, love and enjoy all aspects of myself.

    Jolie, I love the complicated, as well. It certainly makes things....interesting, to say the least.

    pasupatidasi, well put. Discovering ourselves is a wonderful journey and those around us certainly help us make that journey.

    Thank you all for reading. I thoroughly appreciate those that take the time to read my words. Your comments are a gift to me. Thank you.