There is a lot of stigma around the word “butch”, and many myths lead people to believe it’s all about masculinity.
The lesbian community is a diverse and vibrant one, with a thriving ecosystem of identities, aesthetics and sub-cultures. Femmes, masc leaning, butches, sporty gays, tomboys, pillow princesses, lipstick lesbians, bulldykes, studs, gold star lesbians, sapphics, queers – the list absolutely huge.
Often the first question a baby gay – another titbit of terminology for you – will ask when they come to terms with their lesbian identity is “what kind of lesbian am I?”. It is important to state whilst labels can be great for finding a sense of community, common connection and authenticity, you do not need to identify as a specific ‘type’ of lesbian to be valid in your lesbian identity. If a label feels restrictive or wrong, then it is not the right label for you.
Butch identities are one of the larger sub-groups within the lesbian community. If you are butch, you may connect more with masculinity. HER, the dating app for queer woman and gender-diverse people, explained in a blog post: “Butch is an energy. It is ~a vibe~. Butch is a word for anyone who leans masculine in their style, appearance, or energy.”
However, butchness is not inherently connected with masculinity and can – in fact – exist outside of the ‘maleness’ associated with it.
As Tabs, the founder of Butch, Please! told PinkNews, butchness for her is not about masculinity but “about something really feminine, identifying as a woman”.
“Butch is also for me about how I am perceived as I walk through the world. I am punished every single day for being as the great Hannah Gadsby said in Nanette an ‘incorrect woman’, and I am punished every single day for that.
“So for me, being butch is also how I survive that in the world.”
She went on to say everyone’s lives revolve around masculinity and the patriarchy and so she refuses to accept her identity exists within those parameters: “There are lots of different types of women in the world and I want to fight for the right for their to be lots of different women in the world.”
Tabs added when people question her on why she wants to “look like a man” she really wants to respond and ask “why is it so hard for you to see me as a woman?”