The appearance and gender expressions of sexual-minority women, and lesbians in particular, has been of academic interest for a considerable time (Clarke & Spence, 2013; Esterberg, 1996; Hutson, 2012; Huxley, Clarke, & Halliwell, 2013). Are there noticeable differences between heterosexual and homosexual female expression? And if so, what are the explanations and functions for deviant expressions among lesbians? By analyzing an inter-disciplinary collection of studies on lesbian gender expressions, I hope to begin to draw some patterns and new insight into what makes a lesbian “look like” a lesbian, and why she may (or may not) adopt such an expression.
Social dichotomies are constructed binaries used to categorize groups in opposition to one another, typically due to believed mutually exclusive behaviors or characteristics. Two of the more pronounced dichotomies of our society are related to gender and sexuality: Male/Female and Heterosexual/Homosexual.
Although gender and sexuality are not directly related, both of these dichotomies share similar uses and histories in our society. For example, both dichotomies have a privileged/deviant model in terms of one group having the majority of sociopolitical power. Because the privileged groups, Men and Heterosexuals, have more to lose by being seen as members of the deviant groups, Women and Homosexuals, they are frequently defined in direct opposition to the deviant. In other words, one of Heterosexuality’s key characteristics is not being homosexual (Seidman, 2015). The same can be said for Maleness not being female or feminine. In this way, deviant groups tend to have more freedom of expression than their dominant counterparts, if only because they have no social power to lose if their identity is not validated. A straight man has much more to lose if his identities are not validated compared to a lesbian being mistakenly viewed as male or straight, for example (Seidman, 2015; Epstein, 2002). Continue reading Dichotomous Deviants: Relationships Between Gender and Sexuality Binaries
I am a trans woman. I am also a butch lesbian.
Despite what you may have heard, these are not contradicting identities.
A trans woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth by the medical industrial complex. This assignment is based entirely on the appearance of a phallus, specifically a phallus at least half-an-inch in length. That’s it.
A cis woman is a woman who was assigned female at birth by the medical industrial complex. This assignment is based entirely on the lack of a phallus (or a phallus less than half-an-inch, therefore acceptably small enough to be considered a clitoris). That’s it.
So forget whatever the hell you’ve heard about chromosomes, gonads, gametes, fertility, or anything else. (Chances are good you and your doctor have no idea what half of those are for you personally, anyway.) If you can accept that, it’s easy to accept how greatly variable everything else we take for granted about “sex” and “gender” is per individual.
“Closets are for clothes, not people,” is a common battle cry of the queer rights movement. But many fail to appreciate the ways clothes can be used to trap us or free us.
Like it or not, humans make assumptions about other humans based on their bodies and the articles used to cover those bodies. As much as I genuinely believe clothes should not have gender attached to them, I also know I project a very different message to the world as a 28-year-old woman wearing jeans and flannel than I did when I was a 17-year-old kid wearing jeans and flannel.
Many people fail to realize (because they’ve never had to think about it) how much about our gender and sexuality we communicate through our clothing. And even fewer people realize how much others rely on our body and clothes to interpret clues about our gender and sexuality. This is why the same outfit on two different bodies can be interpreted in wildly different ways depending on their skin tone, haircut, fat distribution, size, height, and many other uncontrollable factors. And why even the same clothes worn at different points in our lives can communicate drastically different things.
Previously published by Secular Shethinkers
It’s easy (and popular) to claim the media has no effect on who we are. To claim we’re sophisticated enough to rise above influence and separate the truth from the hype. But the truth is, whether we’re born trans or cis; gay, straight or bi; the world has a lot to say about gender and most of those messages either start with or are reflected by the media.
Before we’re even born, our parents-to-be are asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?”