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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Research on lesbian and bisexual women has documented various biological and behavioral differences between butch and femme women. However, little research has examined whether differences exist in sexual identity development i. Comparisons of lesbian butches, lesbian femmes, and bisexual femmes found that lesbian butches and femmes generally did not differ on sexual identity formation, but they differed from bisexual femmes.
Lesbian butches and femmes had sexual behaviors and a cognitive sexual orientation that were more centered on women than those of bisexual femmes. With respect to sexual identity integration, lesbian butches were involved in more gay social activities, were more comfortable with others knowing about Im seeking a bi butch lesbian etc homosexuality, and were more certain, comfortable, and accepting of their sexual identity than were bisexual femmes. Fewer differences were found between lesbian femmes and bisexual femmes or between lesbian butches and lesbian femmes.
The findings suggest that sexual identity formation does not differ between butch or femme women, but differences are linked to sexual identity as lesbian or bisexual. The sexual identity development of lesbian, gay, and bisexual LGB individuals, also known as the coming-out process, has received considerable theoretical and empirical attention, leading to a of hypothesized models e. Butch women have been characterized as traditionally masculine in their personality and femme women as traditionally feminine.
However, research Im seeking a bi butch lesbian etc found that butch and femme women do not differ on measures of masculine or feminine personality Singh et al. There are acknowledged differences in dress and hairstyle, such that some butch women are more likely to be mistaken for men and femme women are more likely to be perceived as heterosexual women Loulan, Similarly, femmes report that their feminine appearance makes them feel most comfortable and serves to attract and please a butch partner Levitt et al.
Further, Bailey et al. Others have conceptualized all lesbian and bisexual women as having aspects of butch and femme and, as such, have asked women to rate themselves on the degree to which they are butch or femme e. Despite a growing literature on the sexual identity formation and integration of lesbian and bisexual women e.
One traditional marker of the coming-out process concerns the age at initiating various milestones of sexual identity development e. In addition, butches have been noted to develop more gender atypical behaviors e. We hypothesized that the greater visibility of young butches i. Thus, a young woman who adopts a lesbian identity would be expected to be more same-sex oriented in her attractions and behaviors than a woman who is consistently bisexual or who may be questioning her sexual identity. This process necessarily takes time, often years.
Over time, those women who are questioning their sexual identity and some of those who identified as bisexual will become lesbian identified and more same-sex oriented in their attractions and behaviors, whereas other women who are exploring their sexual identity will find that a bisexual identity is best attuned to their sexual attractions and behavioral preferences Rosario et al.
Regardless, if butches do initiate the coming-out process earlier than femmes, as hypothesized above, young butch women as a group would be expected to be more same-sex oriented in their identity, attractions, and behaviors than young femme women some of whom may still be questioning and exploring their sexual identity because butches have had a longer time to develop their sexual identity.
These hypothesized differences in sexual self-identification, sexual orientation, and behavior were examined in this report. This includes accepting that sexual identity, becoming involved in LGB-related social activities, resolving internalized homophobia, becoming more comfortable with others knowing about their sexual identity, and disclosing that identity to others Morris, ; Rosario et al. There is some indication that butches and femmes may differ on self-disclosure of their sexual identity as lesbian or bisexual. By comparison, femmes reported having a harder time disclosing because heterosexuals often incorrectly assumed that they were heterosexual and other lesbians believed they were too feminine to identify as lesbian Levitt et al.
Therefore, we hypothesized that young butches will have disclosed their sexual identity to more individuals, will be more comfortable with others knowing their sexual identity, and will have experienced less internalized homophobia than young femmes. As part of a larger study, male and female youth between the ages of 14 and 21 years were recruited from organizations serving LGB youth in New York City, including three LGB-focused community-based organizations CBOs and two LGB student organizations from public colleges.
The current report focuses on these lesbian and bisexual female youth. The final sample consisted of 76 female youth with a mean age of Voluntary and ed informed consent was provided by all youth. An adult at each CBO served in loco parentis to safeguard the rights of each minor-aged research participant. Youth completed a 2- to 3-hour interviewer-administered questionnaire at baseline and subsequent assessments 6 and 12 months later. Baseline interviews were conducted from October through Junewith follow-up interviews conducted through August Interviewers were college-educated individuals of the same sex as the youth.
Interviewers were trained and received weekly supervision. Youth responded yes or no to each item. Because butch, femme, and androgynous identifications were assessed separately, young women could identify with just one identity or with multiple identities.
This was done for two reasons. Consistent with this rationale, for every assessment period, youth who identified only as butch or as butch and androgynous were defined as butch. Similarly, youth who identified only as femme or as femme and androgynous were defined as femme.
Youth who identified as butch and femme, or as butch, femme, and androgynous, or only as androgynous, were defined as androgynous. Finally, youth who did not identify as butch, femme, or androgynous i. Therefore, a single variable was computed at each assessment period composed of four possible responses as butch 3femme 2androgynous 1and none of the above 0. Because we anticipated that some young women might be reluctant to self-identify as butch or femme due to stigma or discomfort with that identitywe also asked youth how other lesbians would perceive them, so as to allow them to indirectly classify themselves.
Again, the youth provided a yes or no response to each of these three items at each assessment. Following the same classification system outlined above, we computed a single variable at every assessment period consisting of four possible responses as butch 3femme 2androgynous 1and none of the above 0. No test-retest reliability data were available for this measure because the interviewer ratings were made only Im seeking a bi butch lesbian etc the month assessment. The SERBAS-Y assessed the ages in years when the young women experienced various milestones in the development of sexual attraction, identity, and behavior.
Youth were asked the ages when they were first attracted to, fantasized about, and were aroused by erotica focusing on women. The ages reported for these three milestones were correlated. Therefore, mean age of these three milestones was computed to obtain a single age when these three events occurred, resulting in a variable indicating the age of awareness of same-sex sexual orientation.
Finally, the young women were asked about the age when they first engaged in any one of several specific sexual activities e. The minimum age reported across the various possible behaviors with female or male partners was used as the age when the youth first had any sex with women and the age when they first had any sex with men. We agree with others e. However, because the coming-out process necessarily takes time to work through and integrate, we have argued that more important than age when milestones occur is the how recently the milestones occurred i.
Indeed, two young women who first experienced attractions towards women at age 15 may actually be very different, if one is currently 16 one year later and the other is 21 six years later. At the baseline assessment, items from the SERBAS-Y assessed the lifetime prevalence of various sexual behaviors, including the of male and female sexual partners and the of male and female sexual encounters.
After defining the various sexual behaviors to be assessed i. Similar questions were then asked regarding sexual behaviors with male partners.
In addition, the gender of recent sexual partners was assessed. At the baseline interview, youth were asked if they had female or male sexual partners in the past three months. In the two subsequent assessments, youth were asked about the gender of their partners in the past 6 months i.
For our analyses of recent sexual activity, we focused on whether youth reported any sexual activity with women or men. Youth were asked the extent to which their recent sexual attractions, thoughts, and fantasies were focused on women or men 1 when in the presence of other individuals, 2 while masturbating, dreaming, or day dreaming, and 3 when viewing erotic material in films, magazines, or books. Youth were given the option of indicating they had none of the assessed experiences.
At subsequent assessments, youth were asked about their involvement in the past 6 months i. A factor analysis of the baseline data of the full sample of youth identified 11 items e. Factor analysis of the baseline data identified two factors in the full sample. The first factor contained 11 items e. A modified version of the Nungesser Homosexual Attitudes Inventory Nungesser, was administered at all three assessments. As noted above, a factor analysis of the baseline data identified two factors.
The second factor contained 12 items e. At subsequent assessments, youth were asked about the of individuals to whom they had disclosed during the past six months i.
Because disclosure cannot be undone and because it is carried into the future, the indicator of disclosure is cumulative over time. Therefore, we summed the disclosure data at baseline with new disclosures at the 6- and months assessments, such that the total of individuals disclosed to up to that point was used as our indicator of self-disclosure.
Because the follow-up data were positively skewed, the scores for the 6- and month assessments were logarithmically transformed after the raw data were summed. At the 6-month and month assessments, items were added to assess the commitment of the youth to their lesbian identity or to that part of their bisexual identity that was centered on the same sex Rosario et al. Two items that were inappropriate for youth were removed, resulting in a item scale, which was administered using the original true-false response format.
Bivariate comparisons of butches and femmes on aspects of sexual identity formation and integration were made using ANOVA for continuous variables e. Measures of effect size i. In addition, multivariate comparisons of butches and femmes in which controls were imposed for ificant covariates were made using multiple linear regression for continuous outcomes and multiple logistic regression for categorical outcomes.
This difference was especially noticeable for butch identity. Specifically, youth were more likely to report that other lesbians would perceive them as butch than they were to self-identify as butch at all three time periods e. Butches and femmes were similar on sociodemographic characteristics and social desirability. Bivariate comparisons between butches and femmes on aspects of sexual identity formation are presented in Table II.
However, because butches and femmes differed ificantly on age, we examined these differences controlling for age in multivariate analyses using linear regression for continuous outcomes and logistic regression for dichotomous outcomes. The bivariate and multivariate findings were highly similar, and thus only the multivariate findings are discussed here. In the multivariate analyses, butches and femmes did not differ ificantly on the of years since first experiencing any of the various psychosexual milestones.
However, ificant differences were consistently found in sexual behaviors.
There were also differences on more recent sexual behaviors. Bivariate comparisons between butches and femmes on aspects of sexual identity integration are presented in Table III. Controlling for age in multivariate analyses revealed an identical pattern of findings.Im seeking a bi butch lesbian etc
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