Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trans men may be butch but they're not (usually) butches...

To Sinclair Sexsmith,

I've liked your writings, but I gotta tell ya, including trans men in your "Top Hot Butches" list was a Major Fail.

Imagine someone compiled a list of "Top Hot Hetero Women*," celebrating them for really rocking intentional femininity -- and included femme lesbians on it.**

And then said that while they knew that these femmes don't self-label as "hetero women," but that they were going to call them that anyway because it's the most accessible and recognizable word representing the sort of femininity they wanted to celebrate.

I appreciate that you took quick action in removing the trans men from the list, but your inclusion of them in the first place is reflective of a larger Fail irony: You say you started the list because you were appalled that After Ellen's "Top 15 Hottest Butch Women" list was filled with media-imagined images of butches -- but yet you're putting people on your list who you envision to be ideal images of butches who embody "female masculinity" and "reject compulsory femininity" regardless of whether those on the list self-identify as butches or as female.

It may have been well-intentioned, but it's not showing respect. Especially when you acknowledged up front "that not all – and probably very few – of these people identify as butch, and some do not identify as lesbians or queer or woman..."

Want to celebrate female masculinity? By all means. Want to celebrate butches (without trans guys -- except for those who want to be on the list)? Go for it. Want to celebrate "butchness"? I don't think people would be nearly bent out of joint.

Oh yeah... and just so you know... "but they were hot" isn't a good enough excuse, or even an excuse at all. Any more than it would be if my hypothetical list-maker used it as a justification for including femme lesbians on a "Top Hot Hetero Women" list.

Just saying...

BTW, as far as those 13 now-empty spots, if you're celebrating butchness, there's also men (both gay and hetero) who engage in "intentional masculinity" (akin to femmes). Folks such as Jack Wrangler, the gay porn star who sparked the Castro Clone look -- and whose image was most definitely consciously constructed. Or, say, hetero guys who butches seek to emulate. Obviously you would know better than I who they might be, but I'm thinking of someone like Steve Irwin, who was "stereotypically" masculine -- tough, scared of nothing -- without being a tool, and who was also someone able to cry over something beautiful or tragic. I realize that may not be your thing, since from your writings it looks like you're focused on queer/female masculinity, but it might make people think a little about the "diversity of gender presentation."

* And, yes, there are hetero women who are every bit as intentional in their femininity as femmes.

** Yeah, there are some trans men who don't mind being called butches, just as there are some femmes who wouldn't mind being on the hypothetical list, but in both cases I'm pretty sure they're the definite exception.

Fiercely yours,
Lena

1 comment:

Lance A. said...

Dear Lena,

I found this entry on the transgendernews yahoo group. When I first found out about the list, I assumed this was a progressive gay male list or something because it included transmen!

Thanks for writing this.

Lance