Subject: Re: more on the Stone list
Date: Sat 09 Jan 1999 - 20:01:20 GMT
Ah, butch femme. I have been attacked on as many butch femme lists as anyone,
so I have some background here.
It's an interesting phenomenon, a heterogenderal and homosexual subculture,
where the women are women and the men are women.
It is also a cult under attack for many reasons. It was the primary mode of
homosexual relationships until Stonewall -- one was the "husband" and one was
the "wife," and it all made sense. In fact, only the gender variant partner
was really queer, be they a fag or a bulldagger.
Today, though, in many circles it is seen as politically incorrect, a
mimicking of heterosexual stereotypes, an acting out of heterosexism that is
unacceptable. The butches act like men and so are not women, and the femmes
get all femmy and so are not dykes, not lesbians, not queer. Both partners
are seen as under the influence of sexist and patriarchal models, at least in
some analyses, and therefore are not right. Those femmes are secret bisexuals
and the butches are lost in some masculine thing.
That's one big reason that butch & femme people do a lot of self-
justification. The butches work hard to NOT be men, not be like the
oppressors, and the femmes work hard to NOT be like unthinking heterosexual
women who follow stereotypes -- or at least, many work hard to explain why
they aren't doing that.
As you know, I think the biggest divide in TG is the divide between people who
gendershift and the people who resist gendershift. Heterosexual transvestites
may work hard to be temporary transsexuals, using wigs, hair removal makeup,
padding, tucking and so on to create the illusion of being female, but they
NEVER want to be women. Butch lesbians often show very masculine, body and
all, but the NEVER want to be men. Both of these choices are based on desire
-- by being a woman, the het CD must be lesbian, the butch dyke must be a
straight man. There are other examples, too, like gay drags who don't want to
be straight women, want to stay gay men to date gay men.
This explains the resistance to FTMs in the context -- FTMs, by allowing
themselves to be seen and identified as men, inherently have stopped being
butches. They pose questions that are hard to answer in a butch context,
specifically: "What is the difference between butch women and men?" Think of
the resistance to FTMs as the denial of transsexuals & homosexuals in SSS --
they might subvert the paradigm.
As to the resistance to MTFs, that seems to come from a sense that somehow,
sex and gender is fixed and bound -- once a male, always a male. Butch Femme
is a female only paradigm, where no matter how masculine a butch acts, no
matter what choices she makes -- including breast removal and taking
testosterone -- she is ALWAYS a female and a woman. It's analogous to the way
that SSS argues that anyone born male is always a man, so that they can do
outrageous things to appear female and still claim manhood.
It also highlights a big school of thought: Anyone queer is out. MTF aren't
welcome because they are still male/man, and FTM are not welcome because they
are trying to be male/man. What this means is that any TS is neither man nor
woman -- or at least not woman enough to be allowed into womyns space, and who
the hell cares if they are allowed into men's space. They both try to claim
patriarchal privilege and must be excluded.
As to Stone, well, it shows the dominant influence of Les Feinberg, a
transgendered lesbian who remains a she in a relationship with a prominent
lesbian femme writer while passing as a man. Stone Butch Blues defines a
state of "stone" where the transgendered female denies the female body and
becomes disembodied, unable to accept warmth -- stone.
I know a number of femme lesbians who claim that the notion of StoneFemme,
which they trace back to an NYU grad student, is just silly and improper. No
femme, in their view, can be stone, because that stoneness is inherently anti-
femme. Now, I most recently got into trouble on a list called FemmeDykes in
defining what I think the touchstone of femme is, so I won't go into that
In any case, butch femme lesbians see themselves as transgressing both the
heterosexist paradigm and the androdyke paradigm, so they claim transgender,
but often at the clear resistance to any possibility that gender shift can
occur. Butches are never men, femmes are not straight, and that is that -- no
I have no problem with this woman who owns the list being discriminatory and
prejudiced -- discriminating against FTMs, prejudiced against anyone who might
have been identified as a male at any time. I have a problem with her being
stupid, and not seeing how her pretzel logic falls apart under scrutiny, that
she advocates gender transgression of standards (women who act as men
[butches], women who date men (butches) with female bodies) without accepting
that shows that a fixed linkage of sex and gender is illusory.
What she wants is what SSS wants: a definition of transgender that leaves
people firmly fixed in a heterosexist paradigm where genitals and history are
defining factors. She is part of the group who wants transgender without
accepting gender transgression. They want a clear definition of men and women
based in genitals, inviolable, while also demanding the right to break those
rules and be seen as something other than normative men and women. It's so
It's offensive to my sensibilities.
In a message dated 1/9/99 02:25:57 PM Eastern Standard Time, HARRISSG@slu.edu
> "Because we exceed the binary gender system, we generally consider ourselves
> transgendered folk."
> You accepted their self-identification as being transgendered. But I fail
> to see the transgenderedness in one who categorically excludes FtM and MtF.
> Is the claim being made that homo-genital attraction, ipso facto, is a
> transgender phenomenon, irrespective of what may otherwise be termed gender
> expression or identity? It is possible to make that argument congently, I
> think, though I've not seen it done much, and it's not clear to me that
> is what is meant in this context.
> One could make a good case for a transgender identity in a "butch woman"
> frequently "passes as a man" and does so consiously (perhaps even
> of intent); and that seems to be a portion of what the list is concerned
> ("problematizing the issues of passing as a heterosexual male"). But what
> does that leave for the transgender identity of the Stonefemmes on the
> Their "problematized issues" are "passing as a heterosexual female". That
> raises a conflict between self-identity and social role, but it's a fair
> remove from the usual sort of transgender conflict.
> (For that matter, what is a Stonefemme? I'm ignorant in this particular
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