Q: Dear Almighty Beaver Whisperer,
Some background: I have been out for about a year, and have only had one serious relationship. So I’m fairly inexperienced. I would say that I’m masculine of center, but will femme it up on a regular basis. So here is my question:
I feel like I don’t have a clear place where I sit on the spectrum of femme to butch. I work in a male dominated field, so I’m often required to do “butch” things like build things and paint and carry heavy things. I feel totally comfortable doing that. Then when I wear a dress or something with ruffles, it draws a lot of attention, which then makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t want to pick, I like being able to do both. How can I feel more comfortable in my own skin in regards to presentation?
Thanks for everything you do. I do love reading your blog!
A: Dear L,
Butch and femme aren’t your only options. Not every dyke is clearly butch or femme, and neither do they want to be. You don’t have to make any decisions or try to be something that you’re not. You also don’t have to be a butch in order to date a femme, nor do you have to be a femme in order to date a butch. That said, there are many people who identify as “soft butches” who regularly wear women’s clothing and even some make-up while still feeling masculine of center. This may be where you fit in, but don’t try to force anything.
I’m a femme, and I have worked jobs where I’ve had to paint, load/unload, set up, and break down heavy equipment. I’ve built things, and I’ve worn a unisex uniform. None of these things made me butch. Butch and femme aren’t what you do, they’re who you are.
When you are dressed up in a dress or something with ruffles, and you draw attention, is it the attention itself that makes you uncomfortable or is it what people are seeing you in? What would you choose to wear if you wanted to look fabulous, but only for yourself, if no one else was going to see you?
You say that you don’t want to pick and that you like being able to do both. That’s great! You don’t have to pick and you do get to do both! Feeling comfortable in your own skin is an often difficult goal to reach. There are all sorts of reasons beyond gender presentation why this can be difficult. The best advice that I can give you is to continue presenting only in ways that you are comfortable with and be proud of who you are, even if you’re not sure who that is yet. If there’s something that you want to try wearing, try it. If you like it, keep it. If you don’t, donate it. It can be a long road to find the style that works best for both your body and your soul. You are fabulous, now don’t you forget it!
I’m glad you love the blog. I love being a columnist for Bren and Buzz Cuts and Bustiers. She’s a great boss, but she doesn’t pay me enough (read: anything). 😉 It’s ok – as long as we have readers like you, I’ll keep working for free!