I’m not one & I don’t understand them, somehow like a teenager who doesn’t understand the boys or girls he ogles. They are a mystery: a perfect, empowered, complicated mystery.

I have had, like so many tomboys and masculine spectrum and androgyny-leaning and genderqueer sorts, the kind of frustration with femininity that is about me & about the world & its expectations, but one day while listening to a femme talk about intentionally trying to look like a dyke so that others would know she wanted to date women, I had one of those revelatory moments. I explained why I was smiling to her: that I had experienced the reverse, trying to fem up my naturally dyke-spectrum gender even though i wanted to date men. We both had a moment of why is this shit so absurdly stupid along with a little and why are there always uniforms and prescriptions that go along with desire?

I don’t know the answer but I do know I have mocked femininity like the injured tomboy I can be, but this book – so full of longing and coolness and love and desire and girlness and attitude that I feel once again something like that teenaged boi or grrl utterly confounded but this time, a little in awe.

This book Visible: A Femmethology Parts 1 & 2, edited by Jennifer Clarke Burke and published by Homofactus, is full of the narratives of the people who call themselves femmes, and they ponder such a range of questions: the obvious ones about invisibility and identity – especially relevant to readers here when that (in)visibility relates to having a trans-masculine partner — to the femininity of a self-confessed “stopped pretending to be a male to queer to femme female” trans person. They are full of gender theory, concerned about community, biphobia, butch-femme dynamics and too many other things to mention. It gives me hope that even I, one day, can overcome being a jerk and punching those girls I like in the arm instead of just telling them how awesome & fabulous they are.

Thanks femmes, for making me look again at femininity. You can read more at www.Femmethology.com.

Helen Boyd

is the author of My Husband Betty and She's Not the Man I Married.


  1. Everything in the world is against me being a femme, and yet femme I am. The culture also subjects femmes to the same oppressive crappy expectations that it subjects all women to. I look forward to reading more…

  2. Ditto to what Darya said.

    :-) My sister bought me this for my birthday, thank you Helen for posting about it or I might not have heard about it.

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