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On Being Femme, on Being Butch

15 Jan Posted by in Guest Writers | Comments Off on On Being Femme, on Being Butch
On Being Femme, on Being Butch

With a nod to popular feminist novels of the 1970s, Femme Confidential tells the story of three Gen Xers as they navigate the shark-infested waters of love and desire. Veronika, whose primary dating criteria is hotness, embraces the role of mean girl—until she has a baby. Liberty, the daughter of leftist Quaker hippies, is quick to judge and slower to realize her own mistakes. Dana, a trans woman, struggles to find her place in the lesbian community where masculinity, something she wants to eradicate from her being, is embraced by the femmes she desires.

When it comes to butch and femme, there are no rules or none that can’t be broken. But there is something—an energy that gets tangled up with desire.

Here are some of the thoughts of the characters in my new novel, Femme Confidential (Insomniac Press, 2017) on these identity issues.

On a hot August night, I showed up at Kittenz, wearing very little clothing and hoping to find a woman who would remove what was left. I was wearing lingerie as outerwear, which can be done if you accessorize properly: my black velvet bra was accompanied by an onyx pendant, and my red silk boxer shorts that were a size too small and more like hot pants were paired with army boots. Some people might have called my look “genderfuck,” except it wasn’t really. Masculinity or even androgyny just wasn’t me. I wanted butch and femme to be like shoes, something you could slip on or unlace, but it wasn’t that simple.

In an inner-city gym that smelled like sweat, Dana found herself surrounded by lean, nimble women dribbling and shooting baskets in organized lines.

Nairne Holtz

She had joined Lavender Hoops, a lesbian basketball league, even though her experience playing team sports amounted to a few humiliating memories in junior high of being a too-short, too-skinny boy picked near the bottom for teams. Well, she wasn’t a boy anymore and at 5’7” wasn’t too short.

Dana had asked Veronika if there was somewhere to meet dykes besides clubs and was informed the alternative was sports teams. Basketball was less intimidating than hockey, since she knew how to play. When she was a kid, her father had put up a hoop for her and Dawn and taught them one-on-one. Now, standing on the sidelines of the court, she couldn’t remember a single rule. On top of that, she was dressed wrong. From a wardrobe inspired by Siouxie Sioux and Tank Girl, she had dug out a ripped Marilyn Manson T-shirt, jean shorts, black leggings, and Converse low tops. The women around her were wearing puffy sneakers and athletic shorts. She sat down on a bench wondering whether she should go home when a tall woman with crooked teeth tapped her on the shoulder.

Nairne Holtz is an award-winning author whose novel, Femme Confidential (Insomniac, 2017), has just been released – see

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