My guest post on Brandon Shire’s blog discusses the trope of the cisgender heterosexual woman in fiction crossdressing for reasons independent of gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

In plots like this, the creator constantly gets to evoke same-sex romance without ever actually “going there”. A woman living out her life in men’s clothing and behaving “like a man” is reminiscent of lesbians even if there are never any actual lesbians on the screen or on the page, so those of us who are drawn to butch women are intrigued in spite of ourselves. Beethoven’s Leonore, posing as Fidelio, has a sham romance with her boss’s daughter, thus providing some ‘faux-lesbian’ imagery created out of two straight women. Singer’s Yentl “found a way to deflower the bride.” And sometimes these women get into flirtations with men which are, of course, heterosexual, but since they’re dressed as men at the time (and sometimes the men they like don’t realize they’re women), it has the flavor of a relationship between two men even if there’s no real gay substance behind that flavor.

I also talked about how my frustration with this trope led me to create the central friendship of my novel The Second Mango.

I wanted to turn all that on its ear. What would happen if one of those “I may act butch and pass for male, but I’m as straight as a plumb line!” women were to run into an actual, honest-to-god, lady-lovin’ lesbian for once? What would that look like? I was curious, and fiendishly tired of all that lesbian erasure, so I decided to write about it and find out.

Check out the link to read the rest!

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About Shira

Queer Jewish feminist author
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