Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Melissa Schrift, Martha Copp

Committee Members

Joseph Baker


Despite an increased awareness of the diversity of gender identities, butch and femme roles continue to be viewed as lesbian stereotypes that reinforce rather than challenge heteronormativity. This study explores how self-identified butch and femme lesbian women define themselves and how their identities influence their sexual/romantic relationships. Interviews were conducted with 20 lesbians who identified as butch, femme, or neither to learn what these identities meant to them. While the interviewees saw their identities as unique, a number of similarities emerged. This thesis analyzes the themes of conflict with a gender binary model, stereotypes of butch and femme, replication of heterosexuality, labeling stigma, family support, and finally romantic/sexual relationships. Women identifying as butch and femme attempt to defy the societal norms of what gender identity and relationship behavior should look like, yet they may unintentionally reinforce heteronormative gender roles.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.