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Trans, Butch, or Neither?


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Presentation by Adrienne Caminer for WRTG 3020 Fall 2010.

Presentation by Adrienne Caminer for WRTG 3020 Fall 2010.

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  • 1. Trans, Butch or Neither?A Study of Intersecting IdentitiesAnd How They Are Affected by Climate
    Utilizing the interpretations of Dr. Sara Crawley, associate professor, Sociology department, University of Southern Florida
    A presentation by Adrienne Caminer
  • 2. Working Definitions
    Stone Butch: Female bodied person who has a masculine gender expression, identifies as a lesbian and is sexually attracted to other lesbians, usually femme lesbians.
  • 3. FtM: A person who is born with a female body who identifies as a male, and takes hormones/gets surgery to change their body to match their identification
  • 4. Transgender: An “umbrella term” referring to people who do not identify with the gender of the body they were born with, but may or may not want to undergo surgery or take hormones to change their body. Many transgendered persons are most comfortable “in between” genders
  • 5. Other Useful Definitions
    Sex: One’s biological chromosomal sex designation, typically believed to have only 2 possibilities: Male and Female
    Gender: A socially constructed model of the two most common sexes
    Often conveyed or assumed in terms of masculinity and femininity.
    Independent of one’s biological sex
  • 6. All gender is Performative
    Judith Butler: gender theorist
    Believed “masculine” and “feminine” attributes to be learned performances with no biological basis
    Gender has no root, or original
    Merely a copy of a copy of a copy…
  • 7. Notes on Clothes Make the Trans
    One can never go without a perceived sex, they will be assigned a presumed sex and then critiqued at how well they represent that sex
    Gender identity is not solely personal
    • “Performance of self is a visual performance for others but also an experienced embodiment” (Clothes make the Trans, 375)
    If others perceive your gender in one way, you are experience being the gender they see
  • 8. Jamie Babbit’s movie, But I’m a Cheerleader, takes place at an imaginary reparative therapy center for homosexual teens. The character of Jan, who appears very masculine and is automatically assumed to be a butch lesbian is, in fact, not homosexual at all. Her character’s realization that she is straight is a funny joke in the film, but also a critique of cultural assumptions. Jan is proof that gender identity and sexual identity are mutually exclusive entities. Despite their tendency to show up in the same discussions around the same time, the two identities have no effect on each other. Stone butch identity straddles the gap between sexual and gender identity, as it is a sexual identity with very rigid rules of appearance
  • 9. Example of Perceived Gender/Sexual identity in But I’m a Cheerleader
    Watch this clip from about minute 11:00 to minute 12:50. (Clip should start at 11:00.)
    RuPaul’scharacter: “Just take a look at yourself”
  • 10. In part, we learn how to present ourselves through the overt judgments of others
    Our outward appearance is key to the Gender Identity we want to convey
    * Is it possible to be a Trans man if no one understands you to be a man?
  • 11. How to Perform Gender Identity?
    Biases of dominant US culture permeate LGBT culture.
    “Celebrating whiteness”
    Having money
    Urban lifestyles that idealize New York and San Fransisco
  • 12. Performing Gender Identity
    New York and San Francisco are the focus of most LGBT research and popular culture
    These cities become token representations of “real” homosexuality and Gender queerness
    Clothing is a key medium of self expression
    Apparel worn by New York and San Francisco lesbians and trans men becomes the generally accepted model
  • 13. SanFran & NY: Temperate Climates
  • 14. Crawley cannot wear the typical “butch” or “trans” attire
    Because she lives in Southern Florida
  • 15. Masculinity Outside of Temperate Climates
    Crawley notes that, while she often wears nothing but a sports bra, men’s shorts, and a thick belt, she is still able to feel trans in her clearly female body
    (see next image)
  • 16. Is this person a transman? Stone butch?
    (Crawley, 367)
  • 17.
    • Short of work, weddings, and “winter” (the one month of the year that it is cold enough to wear pants in her town), Crawley does not dress in enough clothing to hide her body
    • 18. It is still possible for Crawley to feel masculine without clothes
    • 19. Feels the most like a man when she can strip down to almost nothing and take a dive in the ocean, or catch fish on her boat.
    • 20. “Does having the constant freedom to remove one’s shirt allow me to experience the world of freedom more similar to men than FtMs?” (Clothes, 376)
    Crawley, 368
  • 21. Conclusion
    Clothing is an integral part of butch and trans identity, not only because it disguises and shapes the body of the butch or trans person, but also because it conveys a gender identity to the onlooker. However, clothing is not the only possible medium for representing one’s gender identity, nor should it be considered a superior medium. The key to a masculine gender identity is simply whether or not the subject feels masculine when they act out or wear the clothing associated with the identity.
  • 22. Work Cited
    Crawley, S. L. (2008). The clothes make the
    trans: Region and geography in experiences
    of the body. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 12(4), 365-366-379.