Political Speech by Rae Theodore (Plus a FREE book!)

leavingnormalCongratulations to Kat V! She’s our winner for this giveaway!

Happy Sunday! Today we’re joined by Rae Theodore (Middle Age Butch). She’s talking about the need for political speech, especially for writers, an important message that we should all give some thought to, now more than ever.

And, as an extra bit of awesome, Rae is giving away a copy of her book, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender. Winner’s choice of ebook or paperback. Drop a comment in the space below and we’ll draw the winner on Friday, February 3rd.

Good luck!

Political speech

I’m an active member of a community of writers in the Philadelphia suburbs.

A few times a year, I organize story jams on behalf of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association. Everyone who participates writes to a selected prompt and reads in front of an audience. In 2016, we played with a post-Valentine’s Day prompt of “You Give Love a Bad Name,” a 4th of July prompt of “Love and Rockets” and a Halloween “Scary Story” prompt.

As I started planning our first story jam for 2017, I was talking to a fellow writer.

“I was thinking about a post-election prompt that people could really sink their teeth into,” I said. “But I don’t want to get too political and offend anyone,” I added.

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot recently,” she said. “If now isn’t the time to be political, when is the time?” she asked.

For most of my life, I’ve worked hard at not offending. At being nice and polite. At not making waves. At being a good girl, a good daughter, a good student, a good citizen, a good wife.

It’s one of the reasons I didn’t come out until I was in my late thirties. I had tried to blend in with my peers and quietly follow in their footsteps by marrying a man and then having a child. I had tried to play by society’s rules.

Until I couldn’t any longer.

These days, I consider my very existence a political statement. With my short hair (a number four on the sides), my cargo shorts and neckties for special occasions, of course. Every time I pull my small brown leather wallet out of my right, back pocket to make a purchase or venture into the ladies’ room, I am making a political statement.

When I wrote my take-a-walk-in-my-sturdy-shoes memoir, Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender, I was putting it all out there for everyone to see. This is what it feels like when you are a woman but are called “sir” when you walk into a store. This is what it feels like to be confronted as an interloper when you’re using a public bathroom that corresponds with your gender. This is what it feels like when people can’t quite decide whether you are a boy or a girl.

How can I get more political than penning a memoir about living life in the gender margins?

The results of the election and the events of the past week have given me reason to reevaluate my political expression.

gloria-steinemA week ago, my wife and I attended the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. For more than a decade, I’ve attended various pride events but have never attended a march or political protest. A month shy of my 50th birthday, and there I was standing in the middle of a crowd of more than a half million women tearing up as I listened to Gloria Steinem speak.

These are extraordinary times.

As a memoir writer, I pride myself on being honest and vulnerable in my writing. However, I would be lying if I said I never took the edge off a story. Never smoothed the teeth of certain words, made them easier for the reader, or even me, to swallow.

I’ve made a pledge to stop worrying about hurting someone’s feelings or offending with my thoughts, my words. I will write unapologetically. I will write my truth with the hope of opening minds with the sharp point of my pen.

Now more than ever, the world needs honest art. It needs women’s words and stories, especially when those words and stories come from women in the margins.

Here’s to being political, to political speech.

So, back to that story jam.

Our prompt will be:


Because a writer’s place is in the resistance.

My place is in the resistance.


Rae Theodore is the author of Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender (Regal Crest, 2nd edition, 2017), a big butch memoir that takes a hard, humorous and sometimes heartbreaking look at living outside the gender margins without a rulebook. Leaving Normal was shortlisted for an award for creative nonfiction by the Golden Crown Literary Society. You can read about Rae’s musings on that middle space where boy/girl collide at middleagebutch.wordpress.com. Currently, she is working on a book titled Love Is Like Tiny Cheeseburgers: Musings from a Butch Romantic. She lives in Royersford, Pennsylvania, with her wife, kids and cats.




  1. I’d love to read your book. As a matter of fact, I started following your blog and it’s now listed on my blog site. My wife is a butch much like you, but she grew up in the 1950-60s on a Portuguese island. It would be fascinating to discover the similarities and differences between your coming to self-awareness and her own. My novel about her youth on Terceira is called When Butches Cry and was released last December. Maybe we could exchange reviews of each others’ books? Let me know what you think…


  2. This is an awesome blog. This is definitely the time! Women’s March in MN was my first “real” political rally. Ive never been terribly outspoken about my politics until the last couple of years- and I keep thinking I need to rmp it up more!


    • Same here. First political rally. If now isn’t the time to march, when is the time? I’m comforted by the fact that I’m not alone. That so many are standing up for what they believe in.


  3. I was the same way. I didn’t come out til my late thirties. And when I did, I was met with the statement of “you never gave off the signals that you were gay.” It’s heart breaking when people who love you believe that I’m just confused about my sexuality because I’m not butch. I didn’t live up to their stereotypes so I’m surely not gay.

    I flew under the radar. I was who they wanted me to be because I am a good Christian girl. But my sexuality has nothing to do with my morality or my Godliness. And it feels good to be myself and fully love my partner with all of my being.


    Liked by 1 person

    • I fit all the stereotypes so that when I came out no one was surprised. But still, I was supposed to be a good girl. And “upsetting” my life like that wasn’t good girl behavior.

      I am glad you are out and living an authentic life. To hell with the haters. I’ve found that there are so many people who don’t give a damn as long as you are kind and respectful and polite. Basically, a good human being.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Rae, Finally a person who understands what it’s like to be called sir all your adult life and what it feel’s like to be stared at when you come out of the women’s restroom. I always chalked it up to misinformed people, but it hurt none the less. Good job and keep up the good work!!!

    2 butches in Minnesota


    • Those are the stories in my book. I write about my journey to becoming a butch, as well as what it feels like to be misgendered. I’ve had great feedback from straight people because it causes them to stop and see what it’s like to walk in another person’s shoes. At the end of the day, we’re more alike than different despite perceived differences, and that’s the moral of the book. That and live your true life.


  5. Yes. It’s definitely time to be political in every possible way. Here in the Netherlands elections are coming up in march. Sometimes it seems everything we fought and marched for in the 70s and 80s is vanishing before our eyes. So we speak up again, we march again, we make sure we’re visible everywhere!
    BTW Just finished “When butches cry” and loved it.


  6. On speaking out …
    ‘First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
    … Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

    Different time … same fight.


  7. Superhero indeed! Tell it like it is. All stories need to be heard and help to empower…especially in these times. March On!!


  8. Too cool! One of my former students was at the March as a Transgender Youth Ambassador, so I’d enjoy reading your book to keep building my knowledge base! Congratulations!


  9. Thank you for standing up for the greater good. I get sir a lot; when I was very much younger and in college (I have always gone braless) a few times I pulled up my shirt to make a point. I am looking forward to reading your book.


  10. Thanks, Angie. I think you will be able to relate to my story then. I haven’t been sir’d in awhile. Probably means I need a haircut. After you read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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