I was asked recently, while chatting with a new friend, if I identified as male or as a butch female. The answer is ‘butch female’ and/or ‘dyke.’ The question reminded me that I haven’t posted anything much about the subject of how I identify and self-label, even though that was one of the primary reasons I started this blog.
When I was young, I thought I’d mistakenly been put into a girl’s body. I certainly didn’t feel very girl-like, not by the definition my mom kept quoting to me. No, I wanted very badly to be a boy and remember praying at night, for months or maybe years, that I’d wake up and be one. I remember stealing a pair of my brother’s tighty whiteys and wearing them around for a few days. Probably would have done it for longer, but he’s 3 years younger and they were very tight(!). Why did I want to be a boy? It really didn’t have much to do with the packaging, it was all about the activities. It’s funny because my mom is a very strong woman, was a tomboy who grew up on a farm doing very physical things, but she was desperate to pass on to me the ways of being a lady. I was made aware from a young age about the gender identity of clothing and activities.
I wanted to be a boy because boys got to do all the fun things I wanted to do: run around chasing each other, climbing trees, getting dirty, playing hard. I delighted in being mistaken for a boy. I remember a particular incident where a man who’d stopped to buy vegetables from our garden was chatting with my dad, my brother and I standing nearby. He gestured to us and told my dad, “You’ve got a couple of fine boys here.” I puffed up with pride at that comment and didn’t correct him.
I remember tangling with my mom about wearing dresses. I didn’t want to, but she insisted. Somewhere around first grade, she made a deal with me: every other day I could wear pants to school. I didn’t realize for a bit that she’d gotten 3 days a week, to my two. I remember that after a while, I’d sneak a change of clothes to school, yes, as a first grader, so I could change from the dress into my pants. It’s wierd how different things stand out in my memory. There was a field trip to the local chicken farm, sometime in kindegarten I think, and I was wearing pants for that. I was standing to the side of a group of girls, with my hands in my pockets. One of them looked over to me and commented,”Are you a boy? Only boys stand with their hands in their pockets.” At the time, I didn’t question how ridiculous that statement was, I just loved the fact that I was doing something recognizably boyish.
I went through a phase of trying to fit in, but somewhere around my junior year, I ditched make-up and shaving. Yes I’ve got antique body hair at this point. That was about the time that I realized that girls really turned me on and I switched my sexual and emotional focus to them. Externally, my presentation hasn’t always been very butch — I’ve got some scary pics from the 80s featuring long hair and perms, eww. From the early 90s on, however, I’ve expressed more and more of my masculine side. I no longer pray that I’ll be a boy when I wake up, I’m happy to be a woman. I can pass as a man on limited occasions, and that’s a thrill but I really love being recognizably female, with masculine body language and vibe and facial hair. I love tweaking people about my gender. This is who I am: a woman very happy with her female bits, who also loves being a guy.
Internally, I sometimes feel that I’m embracing more than one identity and most of the time they mesh pretty well, and I move fluidly from one side of my personal gender spectum to the other. Other times, I feel somewhat conflicted. A lot has happened between now and my childhood, and I’ll write more on that as time allows.
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