During a breakout in the conference, a self-described “soft butch” spoke of her years as a drag king, and how she got amazing affirmation from lesbian women; they wanted to be with her. When she came back without the performance, though, she became invisible again, much less desirable. In the end, she decided to walk away from that powerful performance to become more authentic, even if that was much less desired and therefore apparently less powerful than her drag performance.
On the other hand, drag queens of my knowledge have usually found it hard to find gay men who are interested in them, and find themselves much more successful in meeting partners coming back the next night in boy clothes of some sort.
It seems to me that women read drag kings as women, manly hearted women, maybe, but gay men don’t read drag queens as men, rather as someone who is forfeiting manhood for something else.
This means that manhood is something males can lose through drag performance, but manhood is also something females can’t gain though drag performance.
It also seems to explain why FTMs, who can male their body can have a kind of easy social manhood, but MTFs, who mostly cannot really un-male their body find it difficult to have an easy womanhood.
This leads to MTFs often ending up as a permanent guy-in-a-dress or surrendering their power by silence, rather than achieving woman power in their lives, because in a hetrosexist culture, womanhood is located by the absence of maleness.
This may be why so many MTF transsexuals work so fast to surrender their pole and end up in the shadow, and then are frustrated when they find that male puberty is a permanent change, and their male body is unerasable, no matter what the current shape of their genitals. They want womanhood, but all they easily get is a kind of surrendered manhood. Women, as the marginalized shadow of men, control their identity in a way that men don’t need to, and that means the barriers to entry can be high.
But other women who perform a kind of stylized masculinity?
Well, they are hot women, not men!
Gosh, I think even I feel that heat.
The first person I met at the conference was a young FTM Post-Grad, who has consciously created his gender presentation for power. We joked about What Not To Wear and how they recreate the gender presentation of their participants, consciously creating a new performance. And when TantraGal asked me who pulled at my heart, I said that a conscious butch in a good jacket was always hotter than androgrrl flannels and jeans.
It’s hard to get past being identified as male bodied — as having gone through puberty as a male — though.