Gender Dichotomy

As echoed by other students, this book is very difficult for me to read and even more difficult for me to write about. I love it, but it’s a difficult one to emotionally digest.

One thing I found interesting was the dichotomy between male and female – or rather, the gender binary. The “femmes,” too, are “queer” but not targeted by near as much police brutality as the butch women, and often the “butchest of them all” is the character most likely to be targeted for violence. This seems to be the first book we’ve read that truly centers around transgender and gender nonconformity issues rather than homophobia – Paul’s Case, perhaps, being the outlier, depending on how you interpret it.

Based on previous readings, the idea seems to be perpetuated that if you are in any way queer, you are going to live a hard life. We don’t know if the characters in Rubyfruit Jungle ultimately ended up happy, David and Giovanni probably did not, the characters in the sad gay poems certainly did not seem to, Paul in Paul’s Case literally killed himself… I like that people are reflecting on their struggles in their writings. Is this a trend in most queer literature? I’m curious as to what sort of impact this would have on straight people upon reading these novels – certainly, I’m sure some queer people can relate. Something I’ve heard a lot of people in various communities mention is – where are the gay romcoms? This book has me reflecting on that notion perhaps moreso than the others, maybe in part due to the sheer levels of violence reflected.



“Stone Butch” is a term used frequently in the novel, but I didn’t see an explicit definition. How do you define this term?

Do you think that this novel is really a thing of the past, or do you think that gender nonconforming and transgender individuals still face similar levels of violence?


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