|Alexis Meade (Rebecca Romijn) of TV's Ugly Betty|
Megan Evans wrote on The Huffington Post about suffering from "femme invisibility."
Megan is a "femme," which is a term for a feminine-looking lesbian.
If you are a "femme," the world assumes you are heterosexual because you do not match the stereotypical image of a lesbian, i.e., "short hair, no makeup, wearing baggy jeans and a t-shirt." The problem is two-pronged: it is difficult to attract other lesbians and you have to ward off heterosexual males because other lesbians and heterosexual males assume you are heterosexual.
The crux of her post is how to overcome femme invisibility?
She suggests that some relief has come from the fact that "the representation of lesbians has risen on TV. In particular, there has been an influx of femme lesbian characters." Additional relief has come from femme celebrities, who have come out as gay like "Portia de Rossi, up-and-coming actress Amber Heard, Miss California hopeful Mollie Thomas, and country singer Chely Wright."
Also, she launched a Femme Visibility campaign on her "blog, What Wegan Did Next, with the simple plan of inviting femme lesbians to send in their photos and together take a step toward shattering stereotypes and pulling off our invisibility cloak."
After reading Megan's post, I realized that femme lesbian transwoman also suffer from "femme invisibility." We are unable to attract other lesbians and we have to ward off heterosexual males because other lesbians and heterosexual males assume we are heterosexual.
If you are a happily married femme transwoman (like I am), the inability to attract other lesbians is a good thing, but we still have to deal with heterosexual males who are on the make.
Television is not much help. TV transwomen come in two flavors: the men in dresses (à la Work It) and the drag queens (à la Ru Paul's Drag Race). The handful of trans femmes on TV have been so short-lived (the average trans femme character lasts one episode of a TV show) that they have not made much of an impact on the public's image of a transwoman. They still think we are either men in dresses or drag queens.
I don't have a solution. More femme transwomen characters on TV and in film might help. And more femme transwomen coming out as lesbians might help, too, but who knows?
We have enough trouble coming out as transwomen; coming out as lesbian transwomen might be pushing the envelope too much too soon. Maybe one step at a time is the way to go; first step: gender, second step: sexuality.
By the way, when a guy comes on to me, I usually manage to dissuade him off by pointing at my wedding ring.