Butch Flight and Other Myths

From Carnal Nation:  http://carnalnation.com/content/52735/1067/butch-flight-and-other-myths

by Asher Bauer
April 16th, 2010

Every once in awhile, I find myself listening in on the ‘butch flight’ conversation. It’s one hell of a messy debate within the queer community, one that, despite increased understanding of trans people and our issues, rages on. And on. And on.

The argument goes like this: certain women who are attracted to butches are noticing, with considerable consternation, that many butches are moving to male or gender-neutral pronouns, starting testosterone or considering top surgery, or perhaps even coming to view themselves as trans men. To women who love female-identified butches, this represents a shrinkage of their dating pool. Understandably, they wonder what could cause this. A backward glance to second-wave feminism provides them with a theory. According to this theory, trans men are merely self-hating women—women who can’t take the heat of living under the patriarchy, tortured souls who have been brainwashed into hating and “mutilating” their own bodies, defectors who try to escape their oppression by going over to the dark side. They view trans men simply as butches who “run away,” hence the phrase, “butch flight.”

Well, all of that only makes sense if you ignore a few little things—starting with the voices of the trans men and transgender butches in question.

Inventing elaborate motivations for transition is disingenuous if you don’t even bother to ask trans people about their own identities. This is even more true when the motives assigned to a person’s transition—status, privilege, safety—are made out to be as low as possible. In reality, I think it’s safe to say that few people transition for those reasons—and those who do, I would think, probably de-transition within months and return to the sisterhood.

Because the fact is, being a trans is a lousy way to move up in the world.

Yes, it’s true that trans men eventually gain male privilege, if we pass. And that’s no small thing. But in exchange, we must deal with cissexism and transphobia—forever. And cissexism is an extremely well-ingrained system of oppression that has nasty ways of punishing its dissenters.

Continue reading at:  http://carnalnation.com/content/52735/1067/butch-flight-and-other-myths

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