Gender binary part 1. Lulu



In the summer of 2016 I fell in love with a Danish woman, who had two kids. I was hanging around in Danmark at that time and quickly made the decision to stay. Sometimes you just know it’s the right thing that comes on your path.

Now, almost three years later, we live together in a house on the countryside in the south of Danmark. I’m new to parenting, since I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to have kids myself. When I got older, I realized I could meet someone with kids, and that didn’t frighten me anymore. The kids of my partner are now 8 and 11, getting 9 and 12 this month (june). They were conceived in a lesbian relationship, with the seed from the same anonymous donor. They are very different and very alike, as often is the case. They are also very open hearted, the way they took me in, in their home and hearts, is just really amazing.

The youngest of the two has short hair since two year. She is the only girl in her class with short hair. She is one of the only girls in the whole school with short hair. She stopped wearing dresses a year ago and wears clothes she feels most comfortable in, what are sometimes the most funny looking combinations, because she certainly has her own style.

Lulu is tough, but also very sensitive.

So what goes on in her mind, when she is being mistaken for a boy a lot of the time? Does she feel the weird embarrassment I feel when I’m being called sir? It makes me sad and angry to see her go through these situations time and time again, because I know how it feels so well. I have been writing on my blog before about the restraints of our gender binary system and seeing it being poured over an 8 year old, is hard to watch. I can just think, when will the first time be, that she will be told she is in the wrong bathroom? Will she bend in the end and give in to that visible and invisible pressure that they put on her. Or does she dare to stay different and learn to embrace it. It’s gonna be a long road.


















I like to think of Harriet Tubman by Susan Griffin


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I like to think of Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman who carried a revolver,
who had a scar on her head from a rock thrown
by a slave-master (because she
talked back) , and who
had a ransom on her head
of thousands of dollars and who
was never caught, and who
had no use for the law
when the law was wrong,
who defied the law. I like
to think of her.
I like to think of her especially
when I think of the problem
of feeding children.

The legal answer
to the problem of feeding children
is ten free lunches every month,
being equal, in the child’s real life,
to eating lunch every other day.
Monday but not Tuesday.
I like to think of the President
eating lunch on Monday, but not
and when I think of the President
and the law, and the problem of
feeding children, I like to
think of Harriet Tubman
and her revolver.

And then sometimes
I think of the President
and other men,
men who practice the law,
who revere the law,
who make the law,
who enforce the law
who live behind
and operate through
and feed themselves
at the expense of
starving children
because of the law.

men who sit in paneled offices
and think about vacations
and tell women
whose care it is
to feed children not to be hysterical
not to be hysterical as in the word
hysterikos, the greek for
womb suffering,
not to suffer in their
not to care,
not to bother the men
because they want to think
of other things
and do not want
to take women seriously.

I want them to think about Harriet Tubman,
and remember,
remember she was beaten by a white man
and she lived
and she lived to redress her grievances,
and she lived in swamps
and wore the clothes of a man
bringing hundreds of fugitives from
slavery, and was never caught,
and led an army,
and won a battle,
and defied the laws
because the laws were wrong, I want men
to take us seriously.
I am tired wanting them to think
about right and wrong.
I want them to fear.
I want them to feel fear now.
I want them to know
that there is always a time
there is always a time to make right
what is wrong,
there is always a time
for retribution
and that time
is beginning.

-Susan Griffin-

The Persistent Argument: Why We Still Need Butch and Femme

K is for Kiah, and Kakorrhaphiophobia

The world is different today. Today, us queers can marry in any state of the union. We have a long way to go in terms of ending discrimination against all LGBTQ individuals, ensuring that our trans and non-binary siblings can live happily and safely, and addressing many of the problems of intersectionality within and outside of our community. But it’s a far cry from what life was like for us 60 years ago–clandestine bars, coded messages, scandals and arrests, constant shame and secrecy, and a deep, seeping sense of misery.

But even then, there was happiness. Friendships forged, soul mates found, and lives lived to the fullest. There was love and camp and culture and fun, even as a queer in the 1950s. One of the most unique and persistent expressions of culture to emerge out of seedy bars and decades of closeted oppression was that of Butch-Femme–a play of…

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When I was a Boy

This Soft Space

I hadn’t listened to Dar Williams in a while but today this song came up. I found I had a much deeper perspective on it than I did when I first heard it years ago. Seems like it needs to make the rounds to a lot of kids these days.

I wont forget when Peter Pan
Came to my house, took my hand
I said, “I was a boy”
Im glad he didnt check

I learned to fly, I learned to fight
I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each others lives
Out on the pirates deck

And I remember that night
When Im leaving a late night with some friends
And I hear somebody tell me
Its not safe, someone should help me

I need to find a nice man to walk me home
When I was a boy
I scared the pants off of my…

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Visions and desires


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“Some women wait for themselves around the next corner and call the empty spot peace but the opposite of living is only not living and the stars do not care.”
― Audre Lorde

Last summer I decided I would stop being the butch woman around the next corner and change some things in my life. The moment is now half a year behind me. I quit my job on the 1st of January and yesterday I travelled on the train to Vienna, Austria to stay for some time and live and work in the LGBTQ community. Walking into the bar of the Rosa Lilla Villa, the lesbian/gay/ trans community center, on a monday evening and seeing visible lesbians, gays sitting around, eating,


talking, laughing, made me feel incredibly happy and at home. Not that it’s all peace and quiet here, I’m not naive, it’s a radical, feminist, concensus based organisation, with lots of struggles and differences. But it’s better then acting like there is no difference at all between people, the ‘ but we are all humans’ attitude, in the meantime erasing and ignoring the struggle of so many people.

“It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those other identified as outside the structures, in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make the strengths. For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
― Audre Lorde


My one wild and precious life




The summer day by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down–
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

Butch portrayed by Meg Allen


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Meg Allen, a queer photographer from San Francisco, has made over 200 photo’s of butch women. I posted some of her photographs here before. In an interview with She Wired, she explains why she started with this photo collection. I hope she will get the opportunity to make an exhibition one day, one that travels the world and visits my country too 🙂 Butch is such an unknown concept in Holland and as we all know, it’s quite hard to explain to outsiders what Butch means or why we individually choose to identify as butch. I would love to take my friends there and show them that I am not an exception, but part of a big mondial community of women, who don’t fit in the binary gender system and who learned to be proud of what they are, just as I did.

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A boy’s journey


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I am thankful to my mother for the way she brought me up, letting me make my own choices from an early age on. I know her motivation to act like this had to do with her own childhood, she had suffered much at the hands of my dominant grandmother and she wanted to do it differently with us, my sister and me.

Growing up end seventies, begin eighties, in a small village in the country, meant that I could be the tomboy I always was. I could play with what I wanted, play with who I wanted, wear what I wanted. I was a lucky kid that way. No pressing socialization into being a girl or a boy from my family’s side. My friends were all boys, except for my best friend, who was a girl.  Although thinking back I realize we weren’t really ‘girls’. We were hunters, soldiers, cowboys, princes and adventurers, that’s what we were. We loved to watch adventure movies and series on tv: Errol Flynn as pirate, Tarzan, Buck Rogers, the A-team. Heroes and adventurers were always men in our eyes. Women were just there to be rescued, they were the victim most of the time. We played the part of the men, never the part of the women.

But there comes a time when even a genderneutral upbringing is counteracted by the workings of the genderbinary in our society. Gradually I became aware I was not one of the boys. It were just little things that started to add up: I couldn’t play in the boys soccer team. I had to join the girl scouts, instead of the boys scouts. Boys started to treat me differently. There was one single moment when the truth struck me like lightning: I was a girl! It was one of the unhappiest moments of my life. I was angry, sad ánd alone with these feelings, because who would understand my frustration? My world had collapsed, I stepped into a cage and I would be trapped in it for the rest of my life. Trapped in womanhood. This feeling got stronger the moment I started to grow breasts. I hated that boys looked at me in another way, that it made me even more different from them.

As in the movies I watched, in my own life women were mainly victims too. My mother had fled from my aggressive biological father in the arms of my stepfather, who didn’t turn out to be the knight in shining armor after all. I never knew what damaged my mother more, the physical aggression of my biological father or the continuing mental abuse of my stepfather. The damage he did to my sister and me is not measurable, but it affected our lives very much. I even now feel the anger and sadness inside me when I think back of having to watch my mother endure his mental abuse almost every day, seeing my sister upset and retreating back more and more in her room and myself, hiding in my books and playing outside to avoid him as much as possible, trying not to hear his denigrating comments and feel stupid and small. That was not what I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be helpless, I wanted to be the boy in the book that went to sea to have adventures.

This aversion of being a girl sort of slumbered in the years that I lived as a heterosexual. I suppressed the uneasiness with my body as much as possible. I hid in big clothes, tried to be comfortable with myself, but never was. Only when I came out as a lesbian, but even more, when I started to identify as butch, did my dysphoria surface again and this time I took time to look at myself and think about myself. It helped me so much that I had started to learn a new language from my friends: radical feminist language. The internal battle against my womanhood had everything to do with the experiences in my childhood, with the way society is structured in this binary thinking,  with the way I viewed society as a child, with the strong female role models I lacked, with the absence of feminism in my life. And yes, I’m still not ok with my breasts, I guess I never will and maybe I will choose to live without them one day. But I learned to love being a woman, because I can be the woman that I want to be and deny being a WOMAN at the same time. It means I can always choose to be the boy who goes to sea and has adventures, even when I’m a girl…




They’re just clothes, right?


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The following article was originally posted on The story about this little child and his parents is really sweet, but I can’t help thinking: they’re just clothes!! but I realize of course, it’s never just clothes, it’s all about genderperformance, gender-dichotomy, society’s norms, stereotypes. As a butch who loves nice clothes and only wears  ‘men’s’ clothes,  I’m very aware of this gender-dichotomy. People perceive me as a man most of the time and I can’t blame them for that, even though it makes me sad and angry sometimes. I don’t wánt to be perceived as a man, just because I wear men’s clothes and have short hair. But I realize I don’t want to be perceived as a woman neither. Because I know I don’t want people to fit me in the ‘we women’ box. I wear what I like and feel good in, but with less innocence then the child.

Asher - purple dress_1


by Seth Menachem, July 10th 2014
Every morning my four-year-old daughter, Sydney, drags a chair into her closet and plucks a dress off of the rack. I try to lean her in other directions — “Why don’t we try shorts today?” — but Sydney’s stubborn. And I think she deserves the freedom to choose what she wants to wear.

My son, Asher, is two. I grab shorts and a T-shirt out of the drawer and dress him, because he still has trouble dressing himself. But he figured out how to undress himself, and pretty often that means he’s ripping off his clothing and screaming “dress” over and over again. He climbs on to the chair in the closet and tugs at one of Sydney’s dresses — “This one.”

So most days my son is dressed like Sofia the First, or some Disney princess, or — my favorite — rocking a multi-colored Ralph Lauren spaghetti strap sundress. Taking all social mores out of it, he looks good in dresses. And on an 80-degree summer day in LA, it’s probably the most practical choice.

It used to embarrass me slightly when he wore a dress in public. And it wasn’t because I cared about people who thought it was weird that my son was wearing a dress. It was because I cared that they thought I had chosen to put him in a dress. As if there was an agenda on my part to use my son as a way to break societal norms, or as my friend’s mom said to me — a religious Sephardic Jew — “You wanted another daughter?”

This was at a birthday party for my friend’s daughter and before I left my house I had tried to convince Asher to change into “boy clothes.” I knew that if he showed up in a dress, it would be an endless series of questions and judgments, and I just didn’t feel like dealing with it.

But Asher was stronger than ever that morning. He had a huge tantrum as I tried to force his legs into a pair of shorts. His nose was running into his mouth as he cried and protested and I suddenly realized I was fighting for something I didn’t even believe in. I was making my kid feel badly for something he shouldn’t be ashamed of. And I stopped. And I gave him a hug and I apologized. And then I put back on the purple princess dress with his sister’s sparkly Tom’s shoes.

We went to the party, and, as I figured, some of the Israelis laughed and made comments. One said to me, “Do you think this is funny? There are kids here. You want them to see this?” Another said, “You want him to be gay?”

And I stayed calm. And I explained to them the best I could that there is no correlation between kids cross-dressing and being gay. And if he is gay, it’s not because of anything I did. It’s because he’s gay. And maybe it’s a stage. And maybe it’s not. But either way, I don’t want him to ever feel like he wasn’t able to express himself because his parents didn’t support him. And some understood. And some, trapped by religion or ignorance, gave us the stank face.

Seth and Asher walking

Plenty of people are supportive. They’ll see my kids — Sydney with her long dirty blonde hair, and Asher with his short dark hair, and say, “I love your daughter’s pixie cut.” When I tell them he’s my son, they smile and say, “I love it.” They also apologize for confusing his gender, but I tell them, “Don’t apologize. He’s in a purple dress with sparkly shoes. How would you know?” I know there are parents who get worked up when you confuse their kids’ gender, but I’m not one of them.

A gay friend saw me with the kids at Jazz at LACMA on Friday night, and apropos of nothing said, “Just so you know I didn’t wear any dresses when I was younger,” which is essentially saying, “Don’t worry. Your kid’s not gay like me.” This openly gay, married man was trying to make me feel better about a problem that didn’t exist. If my son is gay, so be it. Maybe he is. Maybe he’s not. Maybe he’ll be a cross-dresser. Maybe not. I have no control over any of it. All I can do is be supportive.

The saddest thing about the exchange was learning how my friend felt about being gay. As if it were a curse, and not the awesome, endless dude party it really is. Then again, he’s married now. He probably forgot.

I get home before my wife most nights, so I was taking the kids out to walk our dog. They were dressing up in different outfits, my daughter treating Asher like her doll, as she tried various dresses, shoes, and headbands on him. And then Sydney told me she wanted me to wear a dress, too — “Oh my god, it will be so funny.”

I said, “No,” but she kept begging. I said, “People will laugh at me.” She said, “If they do, I’ll tell them to go away.” And I couldn’t argue with that, as I squeezed myself into Carrie’s most flexible dress. We walked the dog on our block, and the pleasure my kids took in seeing their dad go out of his comfort zone trumped the humiliation I felt.

Carrie pulled up to the house, and I saw her slacked jaw from the end of the street. She laughed. She took a picture. And she told me I better not rip her dress. And then we all went for a pizza.

Butch: Not like the other girls


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butch not like


BUTCH: Not like the other girls explores the liminal (in between) space occupied by female masculinity in contemporary communities. Artist SD Holman delineates Butch not as oppositional to Femme and Trans identities, but as an inclusive site of resistance to limitations on the way women, gender, and sexuality are still defined. The images honour the mercurial beauty, power and diversity of women who transgress the gender binary (boys r masculine/ girls r feminine) – celebrating the transversal dialectic (celebrating debates that cut across categories {literally queer}) of female masculinity, unapologetic and undiluted.

BUTCH: Not like the other girls debuted 2013 in Vancouver, as public art in bus shelters and at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, where the show’s opening spilled out into the street for half a block, the largest in their 35-year history. The media around Butch: Not like the other girls went viral, with shares and posts from as far away as Germany and Denmark, and impassioned calls for the project to tour to other cities. A Kickstarter campaign started (and succeeded!) to tour the exhibition and to create a catalogue to go with it.

I can just hope the exhibition will come to Europe one day 🙂 In the meantime, I will have to settle for the catalogue. A beautiful tribute to all butches by a great butch: SD Holman:



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