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Stem Lesbian Meaning

Nov 29, 2022

Stem Lesbian Meaning

Wondering what a stem lesbian is? It’s pretty simple once you break it down. In the LGBTQIA+ community, a stud is often considered a Black lesbian who dresses and generally is more masculine, while a femme is a lesbian who dresses and is more feminine. Therefore, stud + femme = stem. 

As mentioned earlier, the word “stem” originated (and is reserved for) from Black and Latinx communities. Some folks call stem lesbians “soft butch” as they tend to possess some of the more masculine qualities of traditionally butch lesbians, but offset it with a touch of femininity.


What does a stem lesbian mean?

In the LGBTQ+ community context, a stem or stem lesbian is a Black or Latinx queer person who is both a “stud” and “femme.” The best of both worlds! 


It’s basically a racially-specific version of “futch” (a combo of “femme” and “butch”). 


What is the history of the word “stem”? 

“Stud” is a term that dates back to the 1960s and was used as a synonym for “butch” in the Black and Latinx communities. Butch typically means a more masculine-leaning person in terms of style and energy. A “femme” person is more feminine-leaning in style island energy. 

See also: high femme, an uber-feminine self-care junkie, and lipstick lesbian, an uber-feminine self-care junkie who loves lipstick. 

But of course, the ways we express our sexualities are SO not binary, and so many Black lesbians realized they weren’t 100% a stud or 100% a femme… but rather somewhere in between. So eventually, the word “stud” and “femme” combined as a way to describe this sort of in-between area, and the word “stem” made its way into popular vernacular.





Am I a stem lesbian?

Obviously, we are so much more than our labels, but if you’re a Black or Latinx queer person who likes to dress in a typically masculine way (but has some feminine traits or style quirks), you may identify as a stem. If you’re still struggling to know whether or not you identify as a stem, remember that the way we choose to label ourselves is 100% personal. 

You can continually explore other identities as you wish and adopt them only if it feels right for you.


What is the difference between a stem lesbian and a stud? 

As mentioned previously, a stud lesbian is a Black or Latinx, masculine identifying lesbian. While not all Black masculine identifying lesbians consider themselves to be studs, all studs are most certainly Black.

Reminder! The word was created by Black and Latinx lesbians who wanted to differentiate themselves and their experiences from their white counterparts. The word “stud” helps Black and Latinx folks express their queer experiences and gender rules, specifically within those communities. 


How can I express myself as a stem?

If you feel like you might be a stem lesbian, know that there are hundreds of ways you might express yourself. For example, you might take yourself out shopping or thrifting and look for clothing pieces that help you embrace this identity. 

Because stem lesbians combine masculine and feminine qualities, you can get creative in balancing these two energies. For example, you might explore a tailored suit and a buzzed quintessential lesbian haircut while also donning gold jewellery and some blood red lipstick. Maybe you’re opting for coveralls but keeping your hair long and wild. It’s entirely up to you — and know that you never need to commit to one “certain look.”

Another great way to express yourself as a stem is to foster community with other stem lesbians. And on that note…


Join our safe community 🌈 ✨ 

Whether you are a stem lesbian or just hoping to meet new people, HER is a queer dating app that can help introduce you to many different open-minded people. It’s safer (and more fun) than your run-of-the-mill lesbian chat room, so don’t be afraid to check us out! We’re all about helping you foster the relationships you’re after. 

Amanda Kohr is a bisexual journalist, playwright, and screenwriter. Her plays have been performed throughout the country and her editorial work can be found on VICE, Cosmopolitan, Refinery29, and others. Most recently, Amanda was selected as a fellow for the Outfest Screenwriting Lab. When she’s not writing, you can find her venturing out to the desert, giving unsolicited relationship advice, or on Instagram.

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