So, the other day I connected with an ex I hadn’t spoken to in nearly two years. We caught up and had a really lovely chat. Both our lives have been somewhat tumultuous over the intervening years, and ze confided in me that ze had come out as trans. Of course I told zir how much I admired and appreciated how much courage that took–being truly honest with yourself is never easy.
But in the back of my mind, there was that little voice going, “Is it me?”
You know those girls who always date the very clean cut, fashionable guys and then are constantly finding out their exes have come out of the closet as gay? Yeah, I have that going on except my exes keeps coming out as trans.
Now, logically I know this has nothing to do with me except in that it says something about who I’m attracted to. As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to be attracted to queer, but masculine presenting genders. This includes both butch women and trans*men. So perhaps it’s no surprise that my first girlfriend became my second boyfriend while we were dating. Or that another ex of mine would come out. Or that I’ve dated a fair share of pre-op trans guys.
If anything, it makes a girl wonder if there’s something to the “butch flight” theory. For the record, I do not believe in “butch flight.” While, yes, often presenting as butch is a stop on the way to coming out as trans, I believe those who identify as trans are trans and those who identify as butch are butch with no real crossover.
For those who don’t know, “butch flight” is a theory that suggests that because transitioning is easier (note: NOT easy) than it was 50 or 60 years ago, more and more butches are opting to do so and/or they feel pressured to do so. This theory doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because we’re talking about a shared gender in different sexes. Remember, sex and gender are not the same thing. So on the one hand you have the butch lesbian: a masculine presenting woman. And on the other you have the trans*man: a masculine presenting man whose biology may not or has not always lined up with his sex. If you have the knowledge of these distinctions, which I boldly assume most queers do, I don’t understand how you can realistically connect the two.
Do I think the “classic butch” identity is in decline? Yes, from my observations it is. I think part of this is changes in styles and fashion over time. But, more the point, I think in reality it’s indicative of the slow erosion of the gender binary. That is, slowly but surely, people are starting to understand that gender exists on a continuum. That you don’t have to choose one or the other. In fact, you can exist fluidly or somewhere in the middle as it suits you.
I’m a great example. Most people would meet me on most days and say I’m clearly butch or a tomboi, but I identify as “genderqueer” (or “genderfucked” if you prefer. “genderweird” works too.) While, yes, most days I am more butch in presentation, I definitely have my girly days. I might not slather my face in makeup, but I’ll throw on a sassy dress and a pair of heels (and cry about that decision some 10 hours later). I do it because I can– because I am not a fixed, immovable object. Glaciers aren’t either, just because you can’t detect their movement with the human eye.
Anyhow… I know enough to know that it’s not me. But I can’t help wondering if I shouldn’t just cut out the middle woman and date trans*men rather than women at all!