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Traditionally, the femme in a butch-femme couple was expected to act as a stereotypical feminine woman and provide emotional support for her butch partner.In the first half of the twentieth century, when butch-femme gender roles were constrained to the underground bar scene, femmes were considered invisible without a butch partner - that is, they could pass as straight because of their gender conformity.The dismissal of femmes as illegitimate or invisible also happens within the queer community itself, which creates the push for femmes to self-advocate as an empowered identity not inherently tied to butches.Some people in queer communities eschew butch or femme classifications, believing that they are inadequate to describe an individual, or that labels are limiting in and of themselves.Stereotypes and definitions of butch and femme vary greatly, even within tight-knit LGBT communities.On the other hand, Jewelle Gomez suggests that butch and femme women in the earlier twentieth century were expressing their closeted transgender identity.

to describe an individual's gender or gender performance.The separatist feminist movement of the late 1960s and 1970s forced butches and femmes underground, as radical lesbian feminists found lesbian gender roles to be a disappointing and oppressive replication of heterosexual lifestyle.However, the 1980s saw a resurgence of butch and femme gender roles.For example, Jack Halberstam argues that FTM transgender persons cannot be considered butch since it constitutes a conflation of maleness with butchness.He further argues that butch–femme is uniquely geared to work in lesbian relationships.It is not uncommon for women with a butch appearance to face harassment or violence."Butch Voices" biennial conferences "for masculine of center people" were held in 2009, 20, the last being supported by a fundraiser called Beauty and the BUTCH—"an evening of deliciously BUTCH revelry, thrilling show of tantalizing teases from queers of all genders, and choose-your-own play party adventures".In this new configuration of butch and femme, it was acceptable, even desirable, to have femme-femme sexual and romantic pairings.Femmes gained value as their own lesbian gender, making it possible to exist separately from butches.Scholars such as Sigmund Freud, Judith Butler, Anne Fausto-Sterling suggest that butch and femme are not attempts to take up "traditional" gender roles.Instead, they argue that gender is socially and historically constructed, rather than essential, "natural", or biological.

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