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Butch Lesbians, Trans People Gather in LA

Utah masculine-identified lesbians and trans people who identify as butch, genderqueer and other similar identities including macha, jock and transmasculine are invited to the Butch Voices LA Conference, to be held  Oct. 8–10 in West Hollywood, Calif.

The three-day conference is hosted by LEX-The Lesbian Exploratorium, producers of the “GenderPlay in Lesbian Culture” exhibit and the creators of the Lesbian Legacy Wall collage, as well as The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project, Christopher Street West/LA Pride and the City of West Hollywood and its Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board. The conference will focus on bringing butches of all races, sexualities and gender identities together to socialize, learn, build community and tear down stereotypes associated with butch identities.

“A lot of masculine-identified women are victims of hate crimes and harassment and all sorts of things that don’t get the media’s attention,” explained Krys Freeman, a boardmember of US National Butch Voices, an organization that inspired this conference. “Butch Voices is about a sense of community and a space where they can share their experiences, good or bad.”

“The definition of butch is being revived and expanded by a younger generation of lesbians and queers who are comfortable playing with gender, and embracing their masculinity or boyishness. We need to address this re-definition of ourselves,” said Conference Chair Jeanne Cordova. “We particularly planned the Southwest Conference to be in L.A., home of the ‘lipstick lesbian,’ as a rebellious act of butch reclamation.”

Open to butches from across the country and those from the Southwestern states in particular (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah), the conference’s programing will explore the politics and language around the term “butch” and will feature a number of high-profile writers, activists and film directors.  Kimberly Pierce, writer/director of the film Boys Don’t Cry will lead the panel discussion “Butch in the Movies,” and keynote speakers will include Dr. Judith “Jack” Halberstam (author of Female Masculinity) and activist Carmen Vazquez.

Programming will include workshops by Kimberly Pierce, author Jeanne Cordova, Butch Voices President Joe LeBlanc and filmmaker Cheryl Dunye. Topics will cover a range of butch issues, from the complex racial and political landscape of butch identity in the Southwestern states, to butch history and topics of butch clothing and butch participation in ballroom dancing. Some workshops, such as “What Butches and Femmes Need to Know about One Another” will address interactions between butches, femme-identified lesbians and queer people.

Overall, the conference will include 20 workshops and three performance events that will include Phranc, D’Lo, comedian Sandra Valls and Butchlalis de Panochtitlan, a Latina butch performance group. The conference’s opening night will include the fashion show “INVINCIBLE: A Night of Daggers, Dandies, Dapper Dykes” and weekend performances will include “SWAGGER: Butch Bravado by Those Who Live it and Those Who Love It” and a butch comedy show.

Those who do not identify as butch but who are friends and allies of butches, including femmes, divas and transgender people of all gender identities, are also welcome. Registration is $50 for the entire weekend, and youth and low-income individuals can attend for $25. Ten-dollar scholarship registrations are also available.

Founded in 2009, Butch Voices is an organization of butch, stud, macha and similarly identified queer people concerned with community building, butch health and social and economic justice.

For more information about the conference visit bvla2010.com , twitter.com/ButchVoicesLA #BVLA) or BUTCHVoices. LA on Facebook.

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