Gloria Brame, Ph.D.

A Tux, A Tie & a Big Smile: Vintage Photo

Filed By Gloria Brame, Ph.D. | July 20, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: butch, drag kings, female to male, male drag, transgender history

A sweet private piece of transgender history, this vintage stereocard, probably ca. 1920s, possibly earlier. The tuxedo is awesome but did it come with breeches instead of pants, or was that a stylistic alteration? Love the joyful face! It must've been a great party.


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So, here's a question that is not meant to spark an angry debate (though it may). Is this a part of trans history, butch history, or both. I sometimes feel like we assign trans identity to people who may not have identified that way, and fail to assign it to others who do.

We don't know that it's either. Is someone dressing for an isolated performance or celebration necessarily trans? I would say no, if that's the extent of their cross gender expression and identification. Since we don't know who this person was, how can we make any assumptions about them? Gloria, IMO has a bad habit of labeling images transgender when they're even very much about gender policing (ie men being silly in drag). As a trans woman, I find that shortsighted and not terribly respectful of trans people.

As to the intersection between butch and trans... I think that depends. There are lots of people who may not identify as transgender yet would come under 'the umbrella' if they're doing what's considered 'cross/non-trad gender expression as a way of life (ie someone who IDs as a gay man but comes off as extremely 'swishy.') But it's neither simple nor static. Much of what used to be considered 'butch wear' or butch hair is also worn by lots of hetero, non-butch identifying women and has lost much (not all) of its transgressiveness. It's very situational.