Queer Abby: Can A Butch Be Toxic?

Dear Queer Abby, 

Toxic masculinity is awful and can be so deeply ingrained in us, so I work really hard to be able to spot it within myself and work against it. 

As a MOC/butch female person, it sometimes feels like I am in trouble with more feminine queers just by default on account of my masculinity. I don’t want to feel guilty all the time just because that’s how I present and feel comfortable in the world. How can I assure femmes that I’m not a bad guy? Will it just take repeated positive encounters and time with each person?

That’s a very #noteverybutch question for you

Signed, Quizzical in Quebec

Dear Quizzical, 

I’m going to give you my advice, and I’m going to give you my opinion. 

My advice is don’t act like a gross bro. That means, treat women with respect, act with integrity, be a good listener, admit when you’re wrong, and challenge misogyny around you, whether it is coming out of the mouth of a homosexual or otherwise.  Be a feminist. Act like you respect women and queer people. You don’t need to carry around your GLAAD award for femmes to understand you’re an ally, you just need to be patient and honest. The right people will suss you out. 

That’s my advice

My opinion is: Butches are not the enemy. 

There was a “trust no butch” movement a few years back, in which jilted queer femmes made performative enemies of the masculine presenting people around them. I’m not sure what this was about, other than a perceived dating scarcity and some heartache that calcified into horizontal oppression. It brought about some femme unity, which I’m generally all for, but I’m not certain that doing so by objectifying and vilifying the less societally-privileged among us was necessary. 

That’s right everyone, I’m saying femme-presenting women have more privilege in society. 

Where’s my MacArthur Genius Award? 

While it may seem glamorous to be chased out of bathrooms in fear for your life and threatened with violence as a woman, a gender traitor and a homosexual all at the same time,  in truth, outside of our metropolitan areas (or even one step outside of the queer club scene), it’s not always so wonderful!

Walking around as a masculine woman comes with its own very unique set of challenges that do not add up to enormous privilege that needs to be torn down or put in its place. 

Truly, butch and MoC people do sometimes have social or romantic cachet on their side in queer communities, but that doesn’t make them untrustworthy. 

There are people on every point of the gender spectrum who inspire exasperated eye-rolling in me, but it’s because of their bad personalities and decision-making, not their human form. 

Make it a meritocracy, my femme friends. Judge a butch on the content of their character, not the hue of their Carhartts. 

We, as femme-presenting people, can stand for ourselves without standing against our fellow queers. 

We are all going to end up in the same internment camp in Trump’s America, so why not extend some compassion in the meantime? 

I hope you have a nice holiday. 

Sincerely, 

Queer Abby


Nicole J. Georges

Nicole J. Georges is a writer, illustrator, podcaster, and professor from Portland, OR. 

in case you missed it