Calling all butches

Butch lesbians (and other variants) will be getting some love from the internet this month with the relaunch of AfterEllen.com contributor Sinclair Sexsmith’s Top Hot Butches project. Hosted at her award winning blog The Sugar Butch Chronicles, Sexsmith will be creating community around public figures who are butch, by their own definition or presentation. Last year’s list paid homage to such fine butches as Rachel Maddow, Jenny Schimizu, Wanda Sykes and US soccer star Natasha Kai.

But the project wasn’t without controversy: much talk was had about the inclusion of a trans man in a list of all female-identified butches. Sexsmith addressed the controversy when announcing the relaunch of the project:

The controversy was around including trans men on a butch list. There are many reasons this is problematic, but the main one is that trans men are men and a butch identity is usually a female masculinity, and aligning trans men with female masculinity is demeaning to their identity. However, there are many trans men who do have an allegiance with the butch identity, and I still feel it’s important to include them in this project.

She goes on to point out that the word “butch” itself is more readily aligned with men (specifically cisgender men) in popular vernacular. (Think of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Not so much about lesbians, yeah?) So it’s actually not too far fetched that butch could be thought of as a male term. Sexsmith is aiming to honor butchness across the spectrum, though, including cisgender and transgender men and women, regardless of their sexual identity. But she’s definitely hip to the fact that the project will remain primarily about female masculine identity. In fact, the relaunch of the project is important within itself, as Sexsmith opens up the stage for a lot of dialogue about what butch means.

Last year’s Top 20

It’s terrifically refreshing to see something like a Top Hot list done in such a smart and thoughtful manner, without losing its celebration of visibility and, well, hotness. This year’s project will act more as a database or gallery of butches, and not a numbered list. With the relaunch of the project Sexsmith is also adding a monthly Symposium blog around butch identity (check out her call here) in the hopes of creating community through the site There’s also a call for interns, and, of course, a call for nominations for who’s a noteworthy Hot Butch.

The original list was a response to the feminine-centric hot lists of many media outlets — including the AfterEllen.com Hot 100. Sexsmith was also troubled that any attempt to give props to butch lesbians in particular focused on butch characters and not butch people. She says of the original Hot Butch List:

No, you won’t find Corky from Bound, Amy from If These Walls Could Talk II, or any of the other fictional butches here – these are real dykes and trans men who are out, and whom visibly reject compulsory femininity in some way, meaning they present in a way that is intentionally androgynous, masculine, transmasculine, AG, stud, genderqueer, transgender, or butch.

Sinclair Sexsmith

Color me excited, y’all. You can read more on how to nominate your favorite noteworthy butch person and follow as the project progresses at the Sugar Butch Chronicles. And if you know a butch who’s maybe not famous but totally a wordsmith, know that Sexsmith is looking to create a database of butch bloggers, too.

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