1. What is your relationship with the word or identity “butch?”
I’m not sure that I identify with the word “butch”. I mean, people may see me as butch, but I wouldn’t say that I am. I absolutely love my butch sisters but I just don’t feel like it describes me the way that I see myself. I think that stems from the misconceptions that come with being labeled as butch. I don’t wear the pants always, nor do I want to. Although I do have a butch attitude… does that count?
2. What kind of words and labels, if any, do you use to identify yourself?
I typically use “queer” to identify; sometimes I’ll go so far as to say genderqueer, but even that puts me in a box that I’m not completely sure of. Although I am sort of a guy and sort of a girl, so it does make sense. I’ve lived in and visited big cities and the queer/genderqueer communities are vastly different. I’ve felt more comfortable visiting Portland, OR than I’ve ever felt living in San Diego as a queer person and I’ve been here for almost five years.
When it comes down to it, I’m just a sensitive kid with a gang of bike tools and a love for romantic comedies. I’m just Jess. Mostly masculine on the outside and feminine at my core.
3. What do you wish you could tell your younger self about sex, sexuality, or gender?
I would tell my younger self to be more open to gender and sexuality. I came out very early and immediately called myself a lesbian before I really knew what that would entail. I love women and enjoy being a woman, of course, but it took me several years to come into my own as queer and to not feel the need to identify as a lesbian. I just wish that I had given myself more of an opportunity to learn about who I was at an earlier age – it gets harder once you establish yourself within a community.
I would also tell myself to slow down a bit and be more present. I was sort of a crazy kid when I first came out, always running around looking for a cute girl to kiss. I guess some things never change :)
Lastly: I love butches and the history that comes with them. The struggles and triumphs hold a beautiful place in my heart. And thank you, Les Feinberg, your words are inspiration.