Butch and femme (also spelled fem) are terms that refer to particular gender identities and/or expressions among lesbian, bisexual, queer, and other sexual-minority women. Butch is typically used to describe sexual-minority women with a more masculine presentation, whereas femme generally describes sexual-minority women with a more feminine presentation. These identities play an important role in the history of sexual-minority women’s identities and social structures, and continue to have relevance within contemporary sexual-minority women’s communities, although meanings and usage have changed over time. This entry provides a brief review of the terms from their development in the mid-20th century through contemporary usage, focusing on the United States.

Evolution of Butch-Femme

Emergence of Butch-Femme

Although masculine and feminine pairings of same-sex couples were described as early as the 1890s, formal ...

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