Sex Roles

, Volume 48, Issue 3–4, pp 99–113 | Cite as

The Misunderstood Gender: A Model of Modern Femme Identity

  • Heidi M. LevittEmail author
  • Elisabeth A. Gerrish
  • Katherine R. Hiestand


Femme identity remains a highly controversial topic. It has been maligned in both heterosexual and queer contexts, and is rarely represented in empirical literature. In this study we examined how femme women experience their own gender identity. Interviews were conducted with femme-identified lesbians; the focus was upon 4 content areas: identity development, experiences in the lesbian community, heterosexual society, and romantic relationships. The interviews were analyzed using Grounded Theory (B. J. Glaser & A. Strauss, 1967), an empirical method of generating models of subjective phenomena. The core category in this model “Maintaining integrity: Upholding beliefs about sexual desire and gender representation” reflects the need to uphold their sense of integrity across a variety of contexts by confronting stereotypes about both women and lesbians.

femme lesbian gender homosexual transgender queer identity 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi M. Levitt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elisabeth A. Gerrish
    • 1
  • Katherine R. Hiestand
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MemphisMemphis

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