Butchlab: Sexsmith’s new experiment in butch identity and community

Not long ago, Sinclair Sexsmith started teasing us about a new Butch-oriented project she was working on.  I kept watching my reader for more information but Sexsmith kept us all waiting until yesterday, when she announced ButchLab was online.

What’s it all about, and why do I have an image of Rachel Maddow in a lab coat in my head?

The mission of the Butch Lab Project is to promote a greater understanding of masculine of center gender identities, expressions, and presentations, through encouraging: 1. visibility, because we feel alone; 2. solidarity, because there are many of us out there, but we don’t always communicate with each other; and 3. an elevation of the discussion, because we have a long history and lineage to explore and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

I haven’t seen an explanation from Sinclair on why she chose to call it a Butch Lab, but in my mind it’s a recognition that exploring gender identity is very experimental.  We dress a certain way, walk a certain way, cut our hair short and try out words to explain and define ourselves.  We gauge the success of our experiment based on the responses we get from others, and ourselves.  I’m hoping this site will bring a lot of diverse people and ideas together and create some robust and thought-provoking discussion  Amongst those who consider themselves trans-masculine or masculine-of-center, there’s a lot of variety and a lot of ideas on what it means to be masculine.  Some people might get tweaked that cis-men and trans men are being invited to join in the conversation, but I think it’s wonderful.  I think the more opportunities we have to discuss gender identity, the better.  I’m hoping we get into some discussions of sexism and the unnecessary divides between feminine and masculine, as well as, between trans and cis and butch etc.   That’s where the meat and potatoes and dessert are for me.

Sexsmith and the Butchlab interns invite contributions through their Symposiums (post to your blog on a topic or question posted at Butchlab), submit an article for inclusion on the Butchlab blog, contribute to the Fuck Yeah Butches Tumblr site, participate in a Butchlab interview.  See the About page for more information.  There’s a lot to explore:  butch bloggers list, pictures and short bios of famous masculine-of-center people — our role models, leaders, elders and siblings and co-conspirators in this grand adventure —  the interviews, symposiums and other jumping-off-points to a wider world of gender exploration and discussion.

I participated in Symposium #1, “What is Butch?” and you can now see links and pop-out quotes from all the bloggers who joined in, some of my very best friends contributed their thoughts and prose and I think it’s a great collection:

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