Friday, 20 May 2011

Trans and femme.

So far in this blog I've been hammering home the concept of femme vs. trans: the idea that, for a lot of male TVs, notions of femaleness are (in my opinion) false and that our natures are actually femme (and male). And I'm as sure as can be that this is true for many of us.

But – and it's a big but – I must emphasize that the opposite can also be true: that some TVs are not femme (or at least not just femme) but trans; that notions of femaleness can be correct too. And in this case it might be considered that such natures are obscured by femme: that it is only after someone's femme has been allowed free expression that they can get past the "feminine" aspect, realize there is more to their gender issues, that they are essentially female, and (possibly) that they need to transition.

Perhaps it's that journey – from male to femme to female – which gives rise to the old joke: "What's the difference between a cross-dresser and a transsexual? Two years." (cf Anders, ‘The Lazy Crossdresser’, p5). Obviously that's not always true, any more than my conception of femme (contra trans) is always true, but it's sufficiently true (i.e. sometimes) for the joke to be funny. And there are many other truths as well, and which holds for which person is not for anyone but them to say. In this I think it should be as Patrick Califia once wrote: The best we can do is speak our own truth, make it safe for others to speak theirs, and respect our differences.

While on the subject of trans and femme, I should admit that using quotes from ‘My Husband Betty’ to illustrate my “not woman, but femme” post was somewhat suspect. Because Betty herself is both femme and female (and has since transitioned). I might also add that the author, Helen Boyd, doesn't need any instruction on these matters from me. (It has been, and is, the other way round.) Nor any lessons on femme and feminism either. Here I'd just like to flag her recent interview on Safe Space Radio, in particular the part (from 18:13 to 22:41) with "the shoe store story". I've made a transcript (a nice pun!) of that section (in case the interview gets taken down), but it's much better to go and listen.


  1. Hello, discovered your blog via an incoming link to mine. Not too many years ago, the subject area of gender seemed pretty simple, but now I know how complex the intersection between gender identity, sexual identity, physical presentation and preferences can be for each individual.

    Thank you for doing your part in continuing the conversation and speaking your truth.. we should all keep that Califia quote in mind.

  2. Hi Kyle. Thanks for dropping by and for your kind words.

    Yes, I link to Butchtastic. I read quite a few butch blogs, but yours is my favourite, perhaps because of the genderqueer element. Thanks for your part in the conversation too :)