Butch, Femme, and Androgynous Gender Identities Within Female Same-Sex Couples: An Actor-Partner Analysis

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Although prior research has examined butch/femme identity among individual sexual minority women, this was the first study to examine these identities among partners in female same-sex relationships in a population-based study of couples (N = 376 women, mean relationship duration 20.5 years). Chi-square tests revealed that butch and femme women tended to pair with each other, and so did androgynous with androgynous women, compared with butch/butch, femme/femme, femme/androgynous, or butch/androgynous pairs. In addition, actor-partner interdependence model (APIM) analysis was used to examine the association between dyad member’s identity and individual-level outcomes. APIM analysis revealed significant actor effects suggesting that women who endorsed a more femme identity reported higher relationship autonomy, but more negative dimensions of lesbian, gay, bixisual identity than those who identified as butch or androgynous. In addition, significant partner effects revealed that being in a relationship with a woman who identified as femme was associated with higher income, fewer hours of self-reported housework, a stronger endorsement of heteronormative attitudes, and lower levels of outness. Finally, no evidence of matching effects (Actor × Partner) were found. In addition, gender identity was not related to relationship satisfaction.

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