Inclusive Space for a Cajun, Genderqueer Butch

As someone who continues to explore my gender as a Genderqueer Butch, I continue to look for spaces that are inclusive to all aspects of me. Those spaces have been few and far between for me. I’m Southern born and raised, originally from the suburbs of New Orleans, or N’awlins as we say back home. I grew up a tomboy. I dated boys and later men, and then came out as a lesbian at the age of 22. So many different times over my life trying to fit in with who I thought I should be, instead of who I actually was inside. Often times pushing and pulling with various points of masculinity and femininity in my life, coming to a sense of place, a home within the past few years to where I am today. Coming into Butch hasn’t been something that happened overnight. It also continues to be a struggle and an evolution for me.

I’ve attended and presented at conferences looking to find tribe and build community. I’ve attended transgender conferences and also attended other queer conferences as an ally to others. The spaces I’m hoping to create with Butch Voices are for self identified Butches, Studs, and Aggressives.

The organization and conference are centered in the same vision, to create space to allow for shared personal experiences to mingle with theory, support, and entertainment in an effort to evolve identities beyond just being visual stereotypes.

Often times our appearances can take center stage and give way to many assumptions about our identities as well as us as individuals. Appearance can often be the gradient for dictating who or what is Butch, Stud, or AG. And often times that is not a complete representation, nor is it accurate or a fair measurement, and it can create areas of contention around who is Butch, Stud, or AG, or who is _______ enough to be welcome within these identities and spaces.

Butch Voices is looking to go beyond the superficial layers to get to issues that affect us all, regardless of our exterior presentation. The spaces at the conference will be designed for voices to be shared through workshops, networking, art, performance, media, and various other forms to connect our stories with each other.

This space is inclusive to anyone who identifies as Butch, Stud, or Aggressive, along with other closely aligned identities, as well as this community’s allies.

This space is open to all regardless of race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, sex, presentation, ability, size, religion, hair style, or class.

The primary focus will be on areas where our identities intersect, which can sometimes serve as dividing lines, and also in those areas of identity that we have in common.

I have a lot of hope for this organization and our first conference. It’s not that often that I’ve been fortunate enough to gather with a group of Butches, Studs, and Aggressives. When I have had the opportunity to do so, it has been life changing for me. I’m looking forward to creating and sharing more of these moments with others, and helping others experience this for themselves for the first time and many more times to come.

I’m excited to have the opportunity where we can have challenging conversations about privilege, share in ideas of anti-oppression, come up with ways we can be supportive of each other, and gain from the strength we create in coming together across various divides.

Joe LeBlanc
President and Conference Chair
BUTCH Voices (2009)

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