A couple of my readers have asked me to explain how I came to the conclusion that I was actually a Trans Man and not a Butch woman. I’ve tried to write this post several times now and I keep running into problems with it. It’s a complex question to answer. The first problem is that I really never embraced the identity of Butch. Most of my life I identified as a Dyke or simply as a Lesbian. I knew some older Butch women who dressed like men and had Femme wives and to my young feminist mind that was just too much like heterosexuality for my taste and I was turned off by it. I was even in a relationship with a Butch for about seven years and she very much wanted me to be her Femme. I didn’t have it in me and we mostly just stayed together because we loved each other as friends and enjoyed the company. My current partner is a feminine woman but she isn’t really into Butch women. She really was looking for someone who’s also a little feminine with a Tomboy side, what she refers to as CatFemme (her own category that she made up based on a woman named Cat that she found attractive a long time ago). I guess she thought she might be able to mold me into more of a Femme but that didn’t really work out for her. Instead, I got more masculine as the years went on.
Also of note is that I really didn’t know anything about the T in LGBTQ until about 7 or 8 years ago. I didn’t understand what it meant to be Transgender until I had a friend who was MTF and she spent a lot of time educating me. What I realized from talking to her over a period of time was that we were a lot alike, except the opposite. Where she had hated having a beard, I’ve always felt jealous of men for their beards. I hated dresses and frilly things and she dreamed of being able to wear them. Pretty much everything I hated about being female she coveted and everything she hated about being a guy were things that I had always secretly felt envious of. One day she asked me to read some psychological website that listed symptoms of transgenderism. I related to pretty much every thing on the list. After, she asked me what I thought and I told her that it sounded a lot like me. This is how I realized that I was Transgender. At the time, I kind of shrugged it off and said that it didn’t change anything.
But I was in denial. Everything had changed. How I saw myself and my future changed. How I looked at my past changed. I started to question my sexuality and my relationship. Was I ever really a Lesbian? A period of intense introspection began where I read everything I could about being FTM and Butch. I thought about trying to embrace being a Butch to satisfy my emerging masculinity in order to avoid transitioning and keep my relationship safe. My friend said to me once that she thought living all those years as a Lesbian had actually kept me from realizing I was Trans sooner. She was right. What had actually happened was that identifying as a Lesbian only answered part of the question for me. It identified who and what I was sexually attracted to. Women. I thought that was the end of the story but it was actually just the tip of the iceberg. It didn’t answer a deeper question of why I always dreamed of being male and fantasized about a life as a man constantly. It didn’t answer why I occasionally felt like me and my Lesbian friends were different somehow. Why I couldn’t relate to them on some levels. It didn’t answer why I was so against the idea of ever being a mother or why I was so disgusted when someone referred to me as my partner’s wife.
Back in those days I remember thinking that this was like an onion. I would peel a layer away and digest it and then another layer and digest that. I didn’t know how many layers I’d have to go through to get to the heart of the matter. Really, the heart of the matter boiled down to one thing. I had never in my whole life ever felt like I was really female. From my earliest memory, I had wanted to be a boy. If I could remember further back I’d probably be able to tell you that I actually thought I was a boy until someone told me otherwise. Every instinct in my mind and body was to be a boy when I was a little kid. It was the adults who stressed that I was a girl and should act and do differently that taught me that I wasn’t a boy. They brainwashed me to go against my own natural instincts and thought processes. So, as many trans people do, I made the best of it and did what I could to play along and keep the peace. I made a lot of compromises. Living as a Lesbian was a compromise, even though I didn’t think that at the time. It was as close as I could get to where I needed to be in order to be happy.
So it should be pretty evident at this point that I was never a Lesbian and I was never a Butch. I was born a Transgender Male. I just didn’t know it until I was about 47 years old. There’s no way I could have known about what I didn’t know existed. Once I understood, though, everything made a whole lot more sense to me. I spent a lot of time trying to decide whether I was a Butch or a Trans Man but, honestly, I think I was just in denial and trying to find a way around transitioning. The bottom line is that Butch’s are women. They are happy being women and being seen as women. They are masculine women. Their gender expression is masculine and sometimes very male appearing, but they are women and do not wish to change that. Trans Men do not want to be seen as women and are not happy being forced to live as a woman. This is the line in the sand as far as I’m concerned and for myself. Lesbians are women and enjoy being women. They might not love make up or dresses but they are still women and proud of it. There are Butch women who elect to have Top Surgery to remove their breasts and some even take a little testosterone, but most do not want to transition fully to male. They want to still live as women. Masculine women. Are some of them Transgender? Possibly, but that is for them to decide. I think there’s a fine line between Butch and FTM and the deciding factor is how you want the world to see you and how you see yourself. Personally, I came to the conclusion that I was really male my entire life and that I’d been brainwashed into believing otherwise, so I was never really a Lesbian or a Butch. I just got tired of hiding my masculine side as I got older and let it out more which made me appear Butch, even to myself.
This really is a complex issue and there is a lot of over-lap between the two identities at times. What I wrote here is purely my opinion and reflects my own experiences. I know that others will feel differently about this subject and that is their right. I was asked how I came to the conclusion that I was Trans and not Butch and I have tried my best to answer that question as clearly and thoroughly as possible. It is my hope that this helps someone figure out who they really are one day.
P.S. I want to say that I actually loved being a Lesbian in a lot of ways and it’s been really hard to let go of that identity. It was hard to embrace it initially, but once I did, I found it to be a very enriching and enlightening experience. I feel fortunate to have gotten to live those years as a Lesbian and get to know so many great women. I was able to attend the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival twice in my younger days and still feel a deep appreciation for those experiences. Lesbian culture is rich and diverse and delicious in so many ways and I truly miss it. I often say that I was raised by Lesbians. My own mother did a poor job of preparing me for “real” life and my circle of Lesbian friends from the 80s and 90s really taught me the skills I needed to survive and thrive in society. They also gave me the space to be myself and never told me I had to be a certain way to be their friend. They were my chosen family for a long time and I miss them.