Thursday, 22 September 2011

male fem.

In a new (old) post, ‘Fem’, Tranarchist Asher Bauer declares: I am male and I am fem – which immediately got my attention. The linked piece ‘Self Explanatory: When Your Gender Isn’t’ goes further:

Butch has a corollary, and that corollary is fem(me). These words describe gender expressions as unconnected from sex or gender identity. They are free-floating concepts, capable of being attached to all kinds of men and women. When I transitioned, I took the ideas of “butch” and “femme,” so central to the lesbian community, with me into the world of gay men. Other fem trans men, I think, have done the same.

..."gender expressions as unconnected from sex or gender identity" – damn, yes, absolutely! And I've done the same as a femme hetero cis man, which leads me to another part of his post:

I can’t think of a single cissexual man of my acquaintance who identifies as fem. (...) It really makes me wonder: why are trans men so much more willing than cis to identify with and present femininity?

I'm not sure that's entirely true about cis men. Okay, for the population as a whole it probably is. But there are quite a lot of cis male CD/TVs, and we mostly identify with and present femininity (albeit, in many cases, on a periodic and curtailed basis). And my position is that a lot of us are in fact femmes, even if we don't necessarily identify as such. And perhaps the reason we don't is because fem(me) is not a familiar concept in our community. Unless we hang out with lesbian femmes or gay male femmes (which straight male TVs generally don't) or else do a lot of relevant reading (which I did – see a forthcoming post), we're unlikely to know anything about femme at all.

That's one of the points of my blog: to offer an alternative theoretical framework for male cross-dressing, based on femme, which other people can pick up on – or not – as they see fit. And as I mentioned in an earlier post, it's not completely unknown anyway.

But returning to Asher's blog and his identity as a femme trans man – I just love that. As he puts it: Personally I respect femininity. In someone who is expected to be masculine it is particularly transgressive. I enjoy that transgression. Yes indeed. And similarly, the identity of butch trans woman (as held, for instance, by Amy Fox). As Asher writes again:

And what?

And girls are naturally feminine?

And girls are all attracted to men?

While these types of essentialist arguments might hold water for some, hopefully nobody who would take any such statement seriously is even reading this. No—men and women are diverse. Some women are masculine, some men are feminine. We all know that here. Why should it be so hard to accept that this goes for trans men and women as well?

Exactly so. Just because we're men (cis, trans, or whatever) doesn't mean we have to be any particular kind of man. Or woman. Or anything. Gender essentialism is such a pile of crap. Basically.