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Butch Is a Noun

Butch Is A Noun was only published in 2006, yet in the short years since it was released, it has become a classic. The book, is a series of more than two dozen short essays about butch-ness; butch identity, butch interactions, butch/femme interactions, butch butch interactions, butch trans guy interactions and butch sex and in the quick moving world of gender talk, it hasn't become dated.My guess that the reason the book doesn't sound (or hasn't become) dated is that Bergman clearly made a conscious attempt to speak to his own experience, even while he was speaking about a close knit, often overlapping world that is fraught with potentially hurt feelings. This is particularly true when questions of identity, gender specificity and pronouns are being discussed.

Bergman's opening essay is I Know What Butch is, and it illustrates this perfectly. “Butch is a noun”starts Bergman “and an adjective. And a verb” and goes on to outline, in a way that is both playful and poignant the conflicting beliefs, and practices about people who are masculine of center.

Bergman proceeds on to discuss things like tranny bladder (“one could make a case that the trans community as a whole is a little bit cranky because we are all so chronically dehydrated”) about male bonding through athletics, breasts, the question of transition, passing it (butch culture) along; underwear, butch on butch attraction and the difficulty thereof, and butch misogyny. 

Whenever I am approached by other potentially masculine of center folks who are perhaps discoviering their gender identify for the first time and are looking for something like a beginner's guide, I tell them they should eventually read Stone Butch Blues, but never emulate it. I tell them to read Butch Is A Noun first, because it's more firmly themed on opposing personal destruction.