The disappearing Butch?


When gender transition treatment was re-listed by Ontario health insurance, females who presented or identified as male had greater access to medical alternatives. The number of female-to-male transitions have soared elsewhere as well leaving members of a very distinct Lesbian community surprised at how the changes in rights they long fought for are bringing societal changes they hadn't anticipated.

View our Storify on "The Evolution of The Butch"

Transitioning from FTM, Ky Lynn Shupka

"There's no one way to be butch. That said, when you are thinking of a butch you are thinking of someone who is big and strong and tough, more macho, less girly, think Hugo Boss not Laura Ashley, beer, not muai thai's, I would never have an umbrella in my drink. Chapstick, not lipstick, leather over lace... although I very much in favour of lace. I just wouldn't wear it myself. Engineer boots not heels, I have a mohawk. I wouldn't have long hair or braids. We open the doors - we're never gonna be the first ones to open the door. We kill the spiders, we carry the suitcases, no matter how heavy they are, we buy the flowers, we get called sir - a lot. Butches are all about chivarly, old school manners, and swagger... that's how you're going to know a butch".

Tristan Higgins aka Butch Jaxon

Well, if you didn't know a butch before, now you do. Tristan Higgins is also known as Butch Jaxon -- the lesbian blogger behind, Butch on Tap. The blog extolls the virtues of being butch.

Some worry the number of butch lesbians is dwindling. And here's why they're worried: gender transition surgery is more accessible than ever. It varies between provinces, but Ontario, for example, began paying for the surgery again five years ago. What was once prohibitively expensive for most people, is now a more realistic option. And that's having unexpected effects.

We'll explore them... But first, to get a better understanding of who's seeking the procedure and why, we were joined by Ky Lynn Shupka who is a college student transitioning from female to male. Ky was in our Toronto studio.

Panel: Karleen Pendleton Jimenez / Bobby Noble

As more women transition... it has been felt in the wider Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender - or LGBT - community. Nancy Irwin of Toronto calls herself a leather femme dyke. And she says she's noticed a dramatic change. We heard from her.

This is a sensitive subject, raising difficult questions for many women who identify as butch. Many feel they're part of a disappearing subculture.

With more about this, we were joined by Karleen Pendleton Jimenez. She is a professor of education at Trent University and is the creator of Tomboy - a film about a young tomboy who is bullied. Karleen Pendleton Jimenez self identifies as a butch.

And Bobby Noble is an associate professor at the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies at York University and he self identifies as a trans man.

They were both in Toronto.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Shannon Higgins.

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Other segments from today's show:

Is the Conservative government losing the confidence of its base?

The fight to keep babies behind bars

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