Lesbian Kissing

20 Different Types of Lesbian Labels Explained: From Butch To Femme

by John Santana

The lesbian community is a diverse tapestry full of unique individuals who come in all shapes and sizes.

Identifying and labeling common characteristics between lesbians through light and loving humor is a way to cultivate deeper connections and bring everybody closer together!

Some people who are new to the community may find it difficult to keep up with the vernacular of common lesbian terms.

If you’re looking to widen your vocabulary of lesbian slang by learning about the existing social categories within the community, you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we’ll run through the different types of lesbian labels from a non-judgmental standpoint and with a deep understanding that a person is a lot more than just a stereotype. Let’s get right into it!

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Types of Lesbians

‘Lesbian’ is an umbrella term for a world of vibrant and distinct identities. Breaking down the colorful stories of each lesbian identity helps us broaden and enrich our perspectives of this kaleidoscopic community. 

Amongst the several different kinds of lesbians, let’s explore some of the primary types of lesbian labels that we’ve come to know and love:

Butch Lesbians

– Classic Butch Lesbian

Classic butch lesbians are those women who are biologically female but present with very outwardly manly lesbian traits. They often have short hair and wear very manly clothing. A butch woman is assertive, often seen hanging out with similar butch girls and is probably the most easily recognisable of the lesbian types that we will speak about.

Many butch lesbians will carry very short or shaved hair, wear baggy jeans and are generally androgynous in their outward appearances. One wouldn’t imagine giving her a girly compliment, but that’s alright because that is not what she is looking for anyway.

– Hot Butch

Hot Lesbian

A hot butch is often playfully seen as lesbian candy because they are just irresistible. A hot butch, alpha lesbian is by far one of the most striking and assertive of all the lesbian terms and carries a lot of attention around.

In the bar scene, it is sure that this smoking lesbian is not buying her own drink very often, if at all.

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– Soft Butch

The defining line between butch and femme lesbians, for more details, read about Chapstick lesbians below.

– Stud Lesbian

A stud lesbian is a butch lesbian, or non-binary person, who is of black or Latinx heritage.

While all stud lesbians are butch, not all butch lesbians are studs, and the distinction is very important to consider. The term Stud lesbian has been appropriated over the years, but the Black and Latinx lesbian community is taking it back as their own descriptors of self.

– Diesel Dyke

Also known as a driving lesbians, these incredible butch lesbians are separated from their classic sisters because of what they choose to drive.

YOu will most often see Diesel Dyke riding some very butch big rig. Confused? Think Harley Davidson or Mustang GT. We’re talking mega attitude and mega rides.

– Stone Butch

A Stone Butch lesbian identifies as a Butch and will carry many outward butch characteristics.

The major difference between these lovely lesbians and their butch counterparts is their desires in the bedroom. A Stone Butch lesbian is what’s known as a “receiver.” Meaning that she derives her sexual pleasure wholly out of providing sexual pleasure to her partner. She expects and desires nothing in return, and often does not feel comfortable with physical contact that she has not initiated.

A Stone Butch Lesbian and a Lipstick Lesbian will often sit quite far apart from each other on the spectrum but can make very satisfying lovers.

– Boi Lesbian

The term Boi exists in the lesbian and the gay community. the Boi Lesbian label is not well defined, and has come to mean different things to different people.

Boi Lesbians are extremely boyish-looking lesbians, but other definitions include submissive butches and young trans men. Bois are youthful, sport edgy, masculine haircuts and dress in fell fitting, although manly, clothing. They will more often than not end up dating an older person.

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Femme Lesbians

– Lipstick Lesbian

2 beautiful girls cheering up up

Bring on the ultra-femme lesbian! A Lipstick Lesbian is not just a femme lesbian, she is an incredibly well-dressed, well make-upped goddess of the scene.

Called Lipstick lesbians because of their use of make-up, you could quite easily confuse one of these femme lesbians for a straight woman. But, their dress sense and outward appearance aside, a lipstick lesbian is in every way as lesbian as a butch lesbian.

You can still be a top in bed, chase the spiders out the house and change a tyre as a Lipstick Lesbian, except you’ll do it in a Gucci dress with Prada heels.

– Chapstick Lesbian

Your casual femme lesbian.

A Chapstick lesbian is the one in-between butch and femme lesbians. How they present on the day depends on their mood and the event at hand. While they are completely comfortable in more casual clothing, should the need arise, they’d be confident to pull out an evening gown and dress it up.

The term Soft Butch is used synonymously with Chapstick Lesbian for this reason. The major difference here being that a soft butch will almost always have short hair.

– Blue Jeans Lesbian

A Blue Jeans Lesbian is a Lesbian who identifies as femme but prefers jeans and a more casual look. She will wear minimal make-up, and will most often be seen in a pair of fitting skinny jeans (hence the name Blue jeans lesbian) and long hair.

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Other Lesbian Phrases

– Sport Dyke

A sport dyke is a general term for a lesbian woman who identifies first as an athlete, and second as a lesbian. It sits firmly within the stereotype that lesbians are generally sporty and athletic, although in reality, this is often not the case at all!

– U Haul Lesbians

U haul Lesbians is a tongue-in-cheek tease at the stereotype that lesbian couples get serious very early on in their relationship. The term U Haul refers to the moving company, that some might use when moving in together.

This is definitely more of a lesbian term than a lesbian type and can be taken offensively by some, so be careful how you use it.

– Androgenous

Androgenous lesbians, and non-lesbians alike, are those whose gender identity is not strongly tied to how they outwardly appear to the world around them. These lesbians are a type of biologically female homosexual who fits neither into the Butch nor Femme category. Instead, they appear at times genderless, bending gender norms and breaking through social boundaries.

– Hasbian Lesbian

A Hasbian Lesbian is a fairly derogatory term for a queer who now identifies as straight or bisexual. This is a dangerous and outdated term though and degrades those bi-and-pansexual people among us.

Let’s put this lesbian term to rest now.

– Power Lesbian

a girl lying down on her friends lap

Power Lesbians are those women in the lesbian community who hold high ranking positions within their respective careers.

A power lesbian can exist anywhere in the femme butch continuum and have no specifics regarding their appearances. You might find them in a lesbian bar sporting a banging suit and an air of confidence that makes young queer girls squirm.

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– Baby Dyke

A baby dyke is just that. A new lesbian who is still trying to find her feet in the lesbian community. Baby dykes are not just young women, it is also a playful term used to describe older women who have only recently come out.

These new lesbians will probably undergo a few iterations of themselves before they settle on a look and feel that feels genuine and honest to them.

What do baby dykes need? Kindness and support from the gay community and the lesbian community, as they figure things out for themselves.

– Gold Star Lesbian

The fabled Gold Star Lesbian!

This lesbian term describes a lesbian who has never had sex with a man before and has no intention to either. These lesbians sit at the top of the lesbian food chain, and their rarity only adds to their appeal.

A word of caution with this one. The veneration of Gold Star Lesbians can make those who had sex with men while figuring their sexual orientation out feel unseen and less than.

The LGBTQ+ community is about inclusion and care, not about making people feel as though they are less deserving because of their past.

– Activist Lesbian

Who’s got the marker pen? Let’s make a sign about it!

An Activist lesbian is identified not by her outward appearances. Instead, you can single one out by her passion for social justice, especially for Lesbian and LGBTQ+ rights.

You’ll be far more likely to find an activist lesbian at a political rally than you’ll find her hanging out at gay bars.

– Lone Star Lesbian

Lone star lesbians can mean one of two things.

The first definition refers to a queer woman who has only had sex with one man, before entrenching herself into the lesbian community. A kind of “been-there-done-that” situation.

The second definition, similar to the first, gives the name Lone Star Lesbian to lesbian women who have only had sex with one partner, regardless of their gender.

– Alpha lesbian

The queen bee herself!

Alpha Lesbians have a strong look and a very confident air about them. In all likelihood, an alpha lesbian will have a racey haircut, great tattoos and a look that’ll turn even the most straight girl at the bar.

This is obviously a huge stereotype in the lesbian community, and at its most basic simply refers to a confident lesbian who really knows what she wants.

Understanding Label Fluidity and Personal Identity

We often find ourselves navigating an intricate web of identity labels in our current society. Many of us are becoming more and more obsessed with categorizing persons based on a particular set of factors and qualities.

These types of classifications can provide layers of solidarity and understanding within any kind of social group but they can also oversimplify and unjustly stereotype our individual uniqueness.

Identity labels can be limiting to our understanding because, in reality, our true identity is multifaceted and in a constant state of flux!

Personal identity is something that transcends well beyond any process of categorization. A person’s genuine identity is shaped by a wide range of elements such as ideological viewpoints and personal experiences. These elements blend together in complex ways to shape who and what we identify as.

The lesbian community as a whole is well known to be a strong advocate of label fluidity. It refers to a person’s change over time in how they express themselves and who they identify themselves as.

Whether it’s through exploration and discovery or evolving perspectives, label fluidity emphasizes personal identity over strict categorical norms.

Label-fluid lesbians feel a powerful connection to many different types of lesbians and move through a spectrum of self-expression or identify themselves with multiple labels at once.

Impact of Labels on Lesbian Culture

Each lesbian is different and unique in their own right. There are many types of lesbians who choose to identify with different labels based on their personal identity, preferences, and social groups.

Learning about the plethora of lesbian labels will give you a more nuanced understanding of the lesbian community because of how important they are and always have been to lesbian culture as a whole.

Remember that not all lesbians choose to strictly identify with just one specific group. Some lesbians occasionally move from one group to another or identify with multiple groups at once because, at the end of the day, it will always be a matter of personal choice.

Lesbians have never been forced to put a label on themselves. Those who choose to label themselves do so for their own personal reasons and nobody else’s!

The lesbian community is its own unique ecosystem that consists of several types and labels for groups within it.

In the rich history of lesbian activism, labels have helped create subcultures for lesbians to relate to one another, share experiences, and feel secure in their identities. Lesbian labels emerged to cultivate a sense of belonging and camaraderie within the community.

Les-be Honest…

The variety and complexity of lesbians in the world today is astonishing! And all those within the community should be very proud of how far it has come.

But please remember, that these definitions are for an individual to define themselves by and not for you to label them as.

Calling someone a chapstick lesbian or an activist lesbian might sound harmless enough, but you have no idea of the internal workings and headspace of the person you are talking to. Whether you want to be offensive or not, you might end up significantly triggering a person by giving them a label they do not agree with.

What do we do instead? We ask the person how they like to describe themselves, we give people space to explore and change their titles if they need to and we design environments so that the people around us feel open to be the fullest expressions of themselves.

Whether someone is butch or femme, chapstick, lipstick, alpha or sub, they all deserve a seat at the table. Everyone deserves to feel loved, seen, important and safe.

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John Santana

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