Internalized Transphobia: Butch Worship and the Misogyny of Femme Bashing

I’m not into automatic butch worship.

I don’t think butch women who act all masculine and dress in masculine clothing are necessarily any smarter or more competent at doing things than more feminine women are.

I think that treating butches like some sort of feminist icons is sort of misogynistic because it devalues feminine women and abilities.

It sort of seems like the sissy punching that treats feminine boys and girls as sub-human.

Isn’t the butch worship sort of a variation on the boys good/girls bad dialectic.

On page 5 of her book Full Frontal Feminism Jessica Valenti asks the question, “What is the worst thing you can call a girl/woman.”  She also asks what the worst thing you can call a boy/man. In both cases the answer is “girl”.

T to F kids are abused for acting like girls.  Girls and women are treated as inferior because we have socially constructed girls as being inferior to boys/men.

Mind you I’m not talking about the hyper pink stereotypes being pushed. More like the admiring of the butch woman who rides a Harley and works as a mechanic and casually  dissing the hippie woman with long hair who drives a Prius and runs an organic food store.

I get really tired of hearing TS/TG women tell me how they aren’t feminine.

I mean WTF?

Like I’m supposed to be impressed by your dissing femme TS/TG women.

I mean you have already blown off any male creds, no matter how sketchy those creds might have been by living as women and getting sex reassignment surgery or at least changing your secondary sex characteristics.

It doesn’t matter to the transphobes and homophobes whether you wear a skirt or jeans, they are going to consider you queer.

Doesn’t matter that you’ve never had sex with men.  You are still considered queer.

So you can give up the sissy punching, the bashing of femmes.

I always found it really gross and sexist when butches talked shit about femmes.  Especially when their femme was supporting them because they couldn’t find jobs.

They diss the brothers too and over the years I’ve found some T to Male people to be less misogynistic than most men.

Indeed I tend to think  TS/TG folks in general often have a greater awareness of sexism than the non-trans population.

Except among ourselves where we often seemed compelled to put down feminine sisters.  Which is a little weird considering how many sisters have FFS.

I suspect there is more of this among people who come out older and still haven replaced that inner censor with something I call my guardian fairy, Tinkerbell.  Tink is the one that says, Hey it’s okay for you to like that because you think its pretty, you’re a girl.  What the worst they can call you? A girl, well you already crossed that Rubicon.

Imagine a world where everyone acted surprised if the masculine person was capable of say building a computer from components.  Or capable of thinking logically.

Now I know that corporate media has created these huge stereotypes of what is masculine and what is feminine and sometimes it seems that to be feminine requires huge expenditures on basically worthless junk but that is al advertising.

Much of being feminine is about being nurturing and not spending most of your time trying to impress others with how tough you are.

I think a lot of TS/TG women have a hard time giving themselves permission to let go of the masculine.

I also don’t see feminism as being about emulating a caricature of masculinity.

9 Responses to “Internalized Transphobia: Butch Worship and the Misogyny of Femme Bashing”

  1. Circé Says:

    Hehehe, I’m married to a Butch woman, no worshipping here though I do admire her strengths and her humanity, she can be a bad ass when she feels the need and a very caring woman. I enjoy being feminine, I sometimes go a little overboard but since gaining weight, I’ve been more, well, critical of my appearance and have to work on being good with my self-image but that’s coming along.

    Being feminine is not a fault or a lesser thing for me, I love being feminine and totally perceive myself as a strong feminist. I would never consider that just because someone identifies as Butch that they get a pass, oh hells no, not with me. I will happily call out a Butch who is being a moron or a Femme who is being self-derogatory. Butch worship, naw, but I am an admiress of yummy looking Butches. I have encountered some hating on T to F women by other Femmes and Butches but overall, it’s been a very accepting and wonderful community.

  2. Flow In Says:

    hi suzan.

    i think this blog ties into earlier ones about the radfems. They also seem to hate the feminine – which translates to hating women, since many women are fem. It is weird that so many TG/TS folk seek the approval of a group of people who hate women.
    i know that in my journey, i went through a stage of rejecting the feminine and being androgynous/butch. it was because i was, as you’ve said, afraid to embrace the feminine. Not because someone might call me a girl, though, but out of fear someone might call me fake. It took a bit of time before i figured out that the disapproval i was afraid of applies to all women who wear nice things and are not afraid to be soft, or gentle, or feminine. We live in a culture where masculine / tough / control is considered superior to anything else, and feminine is considered a weakness or affectation. There’s also a subtle programming that turns the expression of femininity into a acceptance of property status. pretty yucky world, and hard to be autonomous within.

  3. hypatia's child Says:

    I kind of made the opposite journey. I embraced my feminine side early on, then gradually became more butch. Today I identify as somewhere between andro and soft butch. But that doesn’t mean I feel there’s anything wrong with presenting as feminine, if that is who one is. Personally I’m against dissing anyone for expressing their genderedness (or lack thereof) in whatever way is authentic for them, whether it’s masculinity, femininity, butchness, flaming queenness, etc. Although it’s generally true that our culture values masculinity over femininity, it generally values it in males only. Women don’t get any breaks for being butch, that’s for sure. Butch women get called many things associated with dykeness (bulldagger, etc.) even if they’re straight, as many butch women are.

    And yes, expressing femininity tends to be equated with acceptance of being someone’s property — IF you’re female (or a male in some settings such as prison). But if you’re female you are *expected* to be someone’s property, and if you aren’t acceptably feminine, then you may be seen as not knowing your place.

    • Suzan Says:

      I sort of have a negative view of butch as wanting to dominate others and order them around. be the top dog, the one in power who gets to dominate rather than cooperate and be supportive of others. Butch comes off as bullying at times just as I tend to view any form of hypermasculinity.

  4. Christina Says:

    I think for some, if not many M2Fs, embracing OVERT femininity (the frequent smiling, hip wiggling, and otherwise expressing feminine charm) ….because at least publicly it means showing vulnerability, having an expectation of woman-acceptance, and appealing to the masculine-protective-appreciate side of masculine self-identified people (most possibility threatening to their femme-identity). And even more challenging if a t-woman either isn’t (or yet) gender congruent enough to be confident in their feminine presentation, especially if they have been harassed/bullied in the past due to their trans-expression.

    Also a barrier is that it’s so hard to break out of one’s past masculine beliefs and protections that have been instilled in them for years, if not decades, and the less womanly “presentable” (my better term than “passing”) the more difficult it can be. And of course what was force-fed to them is that being feminine, as a guy, is being a “sissy” so may still have lingering influences into their womanhood.

    So perhaps it’s finding the right balance between public due caution in public as any woman should be, being confidence enough to express one’s femininity regardless of the degree of presentability, and social practice (knowing that practice makes more perfect and overcomes fears).

    It’s one thing if someone has natural swings (or drifts more in one direction) in their feminine/masculine expression over time, versus being pushed one being one way or the other because of imposed limitations, whether due to one’s internal blocks or outward social pressures.

    The basic question may come down to have can one be feminine yet empowered and self-confident, regardless of how some people might not socially appreciate them or accept their womanhood?


  5. Circé Says:

    The Butch identity isn’t black and white, and it’s a stereotype to view them as wanting to dominate others. I know many a fine Butch woman who are among the most understanding and caring, see nurturing women around. Bullies can certainly be Butch as they can be Femmes or any other gender identity. Btw, Butch is also applied to men who are more masculine than the general population.

    I am no supporter of anything hypermasculine and I do not tolerate any men’s club attitude from Butches or anyone else. Hell, I’ve come across some andro dykes that were just as misogynistic and bullies as any Butch woman could be seen to be. And just to balance this out a little, being a femme, yes this is how I identify as a Lesbian, I do not cater to bullies, Butch or other.

    Some Butches are what is known as Tops and Doms and some femmes are Bottoms or subs but this is in the real of BDSM which is another lifestyle that touches many groups of people.

    I do agree however that society does place favor on being masculine over feminine and that just sucks to high hell and is misogynistic and needs to be called out each and every time. As a feminine woman, I have to navigate these waters and it’s pisses me off, makes my blood boil, when a store clerk will address my partner based on her masculine appearance ( clerk assumes she is the provider ) even though I have the items I wish to purchase in my arms, but this is a societal piece of crap called patriarchy at work and putting the onus of the Butch, well it falls short of the real crime.

    I am physically attracted to the more rugged looking women, though it’s clear to me that I’m not stuck on this, I simply love women in general and find many, masculine and feminine appearing, to be quite appealing. It’s the female in Butches that gets me all hot and bothered.

    • Suzan Says:

      Maybe its because I’m bisexual and maybe it is because I’ve seen so much anti-trans attitudes, “the cotton ceiling” in the “lesbian community” I don’t really spend much time there any more. Tina and I have been together over ten years. We both are living our sobriety and much of the lesbian community revolves around bars and stuff we aren’t particularly into.

      I kind of prefer the bohemian left and art/music scenes.

  6. Circé Says:

    Hehehe, we all perceive from our unique perspectives and that good and as it should be. I cannot speak to what it’s like to be bisexual, it’s not part of my personal experience, never been with a man. The is a lot of anti-trans feelings within the Lesbian community as there is in other areas ( Gay male community comes to mind easily enough ) but I have some very strong women friends, mostly Lesbian though not entirely and I pick who I want to be around, their orientation is usually secondary to my liking them.

    I’m very much a leftist, more of a social democrat and being an artist, yeah I can dig all that is art, maybe one of the major reasons I so enjoy your writings, I find them inspiring and thought provoking.

    • Suzan Says:

      I found that most of the lesbians I liked the best were part of the LGBT/T community rather than the “Lesbian Community”. I’ve also been friends with a lot of lesbians who thought the whole “Lesbian Community” thing was kind of stupid and boring.

      The sort who watch the L-Word and wish it was an accurate depiction. Or for that matter Alison Bechdel’s graphic novels. But “Lesbian Community” I’ve found is pretty boring. Like lesbianism as interpreted by Stalin.

      I do think femmes are more fun than butches. Being bisexual I sort of prefer men to butches. I’m attracted to women like myself. Book worms with hip tastes in music and art. I can always test them by asking what they think of Filles de Kilimanjaro, A Love Supreme, or My Funny Valentine. If answer Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Chet Baker and ask me what I think of Charlie Parker and Dizzy… Well then we can move on to art, rock, country, food etc.

      I’m not exactly a high femme. More the hippie type and I am definitely more competent at doing a lot of tasks thought of as butch than many butches, I just don’t think of myself as butch and tend to be attracted to the same sort of women.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: