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Here’s another way I diverge from the standard femme guy narrative (if there is such a thing): I’ve never had an urge to wear women’s clothes. (Not even with Eddie Izzard’s caveat: “They’re not women’s clothes; I bought them; they’re mine.”) I’ve always felt slightly uneasy about this fact: surely, as a femme boy, at some point I would feel some sort of draw towards them. But I can’t say I have.

Actually, that’s not quite true. I have felt a fascination with women’s clothes as such — just not on me. I’m a bit of a costume drama queen (“If there is a petticoat and Helena Bonham Carter, I can feel the tears well up in my eyes…” – Margaret Cho) and love looking at big fancy dresses, the more outlandish the better. I also love drag shows — again, the more over the top costume-wise, the better.

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So it looks like there’s just been a fight on the fuckyeahfemmes community on Tumblr, that I walked in on late via somebody else’s tumblog, so I can guarantee you that what I have to say won’t take the whole discussion into account because I wasn’t there and still am not entirely certain whether or not to capitalize Tumblr let alone how to use it.

It seems that a quote referring to femmes as girls angered some of the trans men in the community, and led to a discussion of transphobia in the femme community, as well as — and this is where it involves me directly — a discussion of variously male-identified folks who identify as femme, and whether that is okay.

As I say, since I didn’t see the whole discussion, this isn’t meant as a recap of the specific incident in question, but more about the whole matter of people who aren’t women or female-identified, in my case men, identifying as femme, as that was called into question. So I guess it’s time for me to finally organize how I feel on the subject, an article that has been coming for some time.

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While in Ottawa on other business, I recently had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with my friend Ariel and the ladies of Femme Family Ottawa, a wonderful example of the communities that femmes build for ourselves. These femmes (all genders of femme are welcome, though all the other attendees at this particular meeting were women) meet every month for an informal chat at a cute café in Chinatown. I was a bit of a novelty, both as a boy and as a Montrealer, and I enjoyed the cross-pollination that went on.

One of the women brought up femme invisibility, a concept that comes up repeatedly in femme queer women’s thought. If I am characterizing it accurately, it is basically that femme queer women often feel that they are not being read as queer, owing to stereotypes of what queer women look like and do. They may feel not embraced, whether in queer women’s spaces or in the world in general, if they are read as ‘traditionally feminine’ and therefore as straight women. It’s a frustrating place to be, and not just because it makes it difficult to get laid.

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