Some people are supportive of lesbians – but only if they look a certain way. That “way” is usually thin, feminine, and unthreatening to gender binaries or to men.
If you feel more masculine – aka stud, butch, or masculine-of-center – then starting to express your masculinity can be more stressful than coming out in the first place.
Being butch means you’ll often be read as gay immediately. It means that people who initially supported your sexuality may be suddenly uncomfortable.
It means your friends and family may question who you are. How do you transition from feminine to butch smoothly?
1. Start small.
If you don’t feel comfortable changing your entire wardrobe overnight, then start with small changes. One day, wear a men’s button-up with women’s skinny jeans. Another day, wear a dress with a men’s snapback. Experiment with bow ties, men’s sweaters, suits, argyle socks, and trousers.
Not only will this allow people to acclimate to your new gender expression, but you’ll also be able to acclimate to their reactions. Over time, raised eyebrows won’t even faze you.
2. Find your style.
Men’s fashion is very diverse, so give yourself room to experiment. Although you may think you identify with a specific style – are you a dapper qt? or a hipster john? – that may change as you explore.
Read men’s fashion blogs. Read women’s menswear blogs. Shop at thrift stores. Order basic men’s pieces from Forever 21 and H&M so that you can mix and match. Browse international streetwear stores. Hit pop-up shops. Steal from your brother.
3. Be cool with your female days.
Just because you start to identify as butch, that doesn’t mean you have to present as butch all the time. Gender is nuanced and gender expression can be even more so.
Some days you might wake up wanting to wear a dress. That doesn’t make you a fake or a fraud; it’s just the way your body wants to express itself that day, so honor it.
4. Don’t be homophobic.
Some butch women won’t date butch women because it’s too “gay,” as if it would be like two men dating. Not only does that mentality insinuate that gay men should be ashamed, but it also heavily implies that gay female relationships are only okay as long as one partner is more feminine than the other.
Masculinity and femininity aren’t necessary for a relationship. So don’t react like a homophobic straight man when you see two butch people together, or when your feminine friend asks your opinion on another stud.
5. Don’t be a misogynist.
Similarly, it’s depressingly easy and common for butch women to internalize heteronormative anti-women attitudes. etc. A butch woman may call women weak, may be possessive or even abusive, may objectify women – and then excuse her behavior because she’ s a woman too. Being a woman isn’t a hall pass for problematic behavior.
6. Be yourself.
Expressing yourself as stud or butch can be confusing, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it if you’re being true to yourself. On difficult days, keep that in mind. Every struggle brings you closer to the person you were meant to be.