Why Do Butch Women Want to Act Like Men?

Lesbian couple kiss on balcony
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As a gay woman, here's a question I get asked a lot, "Why are butch women always acting like men?" Either that or, "Do butch women secretly want to be men?" The other biggie is, "Why would someone want to imitate a man when they were born a woman?"

What I've come to discover over the years is that in the lesbian community there is a lot of ignorance (and very often intolerance) in regards to those people who are interested in exploring the more masculine side of themselves.


I am not totally sure where all the ignorance and confusion comes from, but my guess is it stems from internalized homophobia—people who are concerned with how gays and lesbians look to the outside world. Not surprisingly, those very same people who have a problem with butch-looking women, also have a problem with the way flamboyant gay men are represented in the media.

But the truth is, these representations (whether they be male or female) are just part of the diversity of who we are as members of the LGBT community.

Here's something to consider. One of my best friends is a very butch-looking straight woman. She often gets mistaken for a lesbian, especially when she’s hanging out with me. She is very aware of how she presents herself to the world and how a lot of people perceive her. What she says is that her appearance has to do with being raised on a farm where overalls were the norm. She could be right, but then again, her sister was raised on the same farm, and she is very feminine.

Gender Expression

I think it is hugely important to acknowledge that we all have elements of masculine and feminine within us, no matter what our sexual orientation. Just like there is a Kinsey Scale of sexual orientation, which goes across a spectrum, there is a scale of gender expression.

It's my opinion that being butch, femme, or somewhere in between is an inborn trait, much like sexual orientation. Personally, I was a hardcore tomboy growing up and loved dressing like Annie Oakley, gun holster and all. I never liked wearing dresses or playing with dolls. Even as I entered my teen years, instead of clothes shopping on a Saturday, I preferred to go horseback riding and spend my time afterward in the barn feeding the horses. All of this behavior occurred long before I had any inkling of what being a lesbian was. I did not choose to be this way, it is simply who I was born to be.

One Size Does not fit All

Some butches love to work on cars, watch football, and undertake carpentry projects around the house. Others do not. Some femmes like to work on cars, watch football, and undertake carpentry projects around the house. All you have to do is turn on your TV and look at Ellen Degeneres and her wife Portia de Rossi to understand what I am talking about. Ellen, Butch-looking to a fault, and Portia, the epitome of feminity—are both lesbians.

So let's get it straight. Butches are women who just happen to feel comfortable expressing the masculine side of themselves. They do not want to be men.

People who are born women and want to be men are called transsexuals. 

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