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What is a stud lesbian and who's allowed to call themselves one?

What is a stud lesbian and who's allowed to call themselves one?

what is a stud lesbian
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And yes, "stud" and "butch" are different.

@andrewjstillman


Ever heard of a stud lesbian before?

what is a stud lesbian?

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The ever-expanding lexicon of the LGBTQ+ community is doing what it can to make everybody feel more included and wanted. In terms of identity as a whole, umbrella terms only take us so far when we start to get down into the differences between us, specifically when it comes to race.

Those differences even show up within the lesbian community. Many people have heard of terms like “lipstick” and “butch” in a similar fashion to how gay men are often referred to as either “feminine” or “masculine.”

The lesbian lexicon is even more expansive beyond "butch." Another term that has gained some mainstream popularity over the last few years on social media is stud lesbian.

What is a stud lesbian?

@teacherrobi

Reply to @nas_2026 hope this helps Nas. Let’s be inclusive of everyone and how they identify. #lgbtq #lgbtqplus #studlesbian #studlife #pronouns

Typically, a stud lesbian refers to a Black masculine presenting woman. As mentioned in the TikTok video above, it’s important to remember that this term does not apply to every Black masculine lesbian woman but is instead there as a means for you to connect with if it’s something that speaks to you.

A New York Times piece written on the topic back in 2020 addresses the fact that Black women, in general, are “not seen” and often viewed as butch, even if they’re not. Roxanne Gay, a writer interviewed for the piece, said, “Black butchness tends to be doubly invisible. Except for studs: They’re very visible.”

When did this term originate?

black woman with a Pride rainbow shirt

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There isn’t necessarily a hard date or event that gave birth to the term “stud,” though it does date back to at least the 1960s. Back in 1965, Ethel Sawyer did a study on Black lesbians in the Midwest titled “A Study of a Public Lesbian Community.” In it, she discussed how Black queer women in this region referred to themselves as “studs” and became the earliest known sociological study of the community to mention the term.

Of course, we now live in the age of social media and trends, which has helped make this term more broadly known. Over the last few years, social media apps like TikTok and X (formerly Twitter) have discussed the term "stud." In 2019, there was also a trend where stud women posted a side-by-side of them dressed as studs and dressed more fem to shine a little more light onto the topic.

Are "stud" and "butch" the same thing?

Black woman behind a Pride flag

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one and the same, they are, in fact, not. The term “butch” can include anyone of any race. While a Black woman can identify as a butch lesbian, on the flip side, a white woman most certainly cannot identify as a stud lesbian.

According to the New York Times, another reason this term was thought to enter into the mainstream in the first place was because of the sexualization of the male gaze. It talks of the presumption that all butch lesbians are “fat, frumpy fashion disasters” who are simply not interested in what men think about them.

Additionally, the “butch” term is also thought to be an abbreviation of “butcher,” which was an early 20th-century American slang term meaning “tough kid” and was inspired by Butch Cassidy. Following that, during the World War II era, the word “butch” was used to describe “aggressive” women. This is likely another reason that Black women wanted a term to differentiate themselves, as the “angry Black woman” is a stereotype all Black women must endure, regardless of their sexual identity.

What's the difference between a "stud" and a "stem"?

@flower30sherell30

Replying to @Islandchic 786 i hope this clears up the confusion. A lesbian that isnt new to this knows exactly what a “stem” is. 😏 We dress masculine sometimes and feminine sometimes. But to go into details. A female will wear masculine clothes but will have on makeup, extension, lashes, or even nails. Its their choice of what they’ll wear or put on their bodies or whatever. That makes her a stem because she will put that shit on while dressed masc. but when she’s feminine she’ll dress completely feminine and be did up but with masculine energy still. So its the best of both world ALL IN ONE

Within the realm of “stud,” another word that gets thrown around and often paired is that of “stem,” which is a blend of “stud” and “femme.” Historically, this term has been used for Black and Latinx communities as a more racially-specific variation of “futch,” which is a combination of “femme” and “butch.”

Just as with “stud,” not all Black or Latinx lesbian women will take on the “stem” identity. Those who do take it on usually do so as a means to differentiate themselves and their experiences from their white counterparts, who typically dominate the conversation at any given moment.

Does "stud" include the Latinx community, too?

Black lesbian couple

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Things get a little complicated when we start to bring in the Latinx community as it dives into a deeper discussion on race vs. ethnicity. Including them broadly in the “stud” label sometimes comes down to nothing more than a matter of opinion.

That said, usually, a “stud” is referenced explicitly to a Black woman, even though more non-Afro-Latinx women are taking it on in the Latinx community. As “stem” becomes more popular, that term is often noted to be used within the Black and Latinx communities.

Ultimately, the most clear and important thing to keep in mind is that neither of these terms can include white women, even though there are plenty who want to take the term for themselves. Remember, "stud" originated out of a desire to differentiate life experiences between queer Black women and women of color as opposed to queer white women. Trying to take this away only exacerbates racial inequalities.

Where can I find other stud lesbians?

black lesbian couple kissing

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Whether you’re looking to date or not, finding other people who look and think the way you do can be challenging or intimidating. Outside of TikTok and Twitter, dating apps like Her and Taimi provide a place for women to meet each other. Her specifically has its own section for Black lesbian women. Taimi is a little broader across the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum and encourages sexual fluidity as you explore.

It’s also okay if you’re shy; many people are. As always, one of the most important things to take with you is the simple fact that you are not alone. There is someone else out there who understands your struggles, and there are plenty of people who will come to your corner if you ask.

Lastly, own who you are and forget what anybody else has to say about it.

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Andrew J. Stillman

Contributing Writer for Pride.com

Andrew J. Stillman is a freelance writer and yoga instructor exploring the world. Check him out at andrewjstillman.com or follow him @andrewjstillman on all the things.

Andrew J. Stillman is a freelance writer and yoga instructor exploring the world. Check him out at andrewjstillman.com or follow him @andrewjstillman on all the things.