“Is Shane Actually Butch?,” and Other Unanswered Questions about Butchness and Transmasculinity: A Conversation with Daniel Ortberg, Molly Priddy, and Charlie Zieke.
strangely coincides with that shitty AE piece, but not actually about it very much
|Apr 28|| 16|
Last Friday, the lesbian interest website AfterEllen published a story that I won’t link to, which argued that an apparent increase in the number of young people undergoing gender transitions represents an existential threat to the lesbian community. It describes a trip to a Starbucks, in which the author encounters a couple of transmasculine people, is filled with a mixture of pity and disgust, and speculates about their medical histories and conditions, evoking a nightmarish scenario of elective surgeries carried out by malevolent doctors. Throughout, the author of that article refers to trans men and trans masc nb people as “lesbians,” and suggests that trans mascs’ decision to transition is not only deluded, but dangerous, because it affirms the notion that “there is no such thing as a girl who doesn’t like pink.”
The article initially appeared under the title “Butch Genocide,” which was presumably chosen to echo the phrase “white genocide,” a rallying cry of neo-nazi and white supremacist organizations. The editorial decision to publish an article under that title was disgraceful - had the article been published on a more reputable website, I suspect the editor would have lost her job, even if the publication were generally on board with the anti-trans agenda. The title was later changed to “Butch Eradication,” with no editorial clarification for why the emendation had been made, or any sense of the profound harm that the initial title did not merely to trans masculine and trans feminine people (about whom the editors, presumably, don't much care) but to lesbians of color, Jewish and Muslim lesbians, and lesbians with disabilities, for whom the evocation of death camps, “gay eugenics,” and “butch genocide” are more than a hyperbolic vocabulary.
AfterEllen should apologize to those communities, at least; when they have done that, they should really re-examine their mission. “Butch Genocide” was a very, very strange piece of writing. After one had acclimated to its hallucinogenic narrative premise - that a Starbucks is, or is like, a strange postmodern concentration camp, filled with Mengelean ideologues, what really strikes one is the deep misogyny of the piece, the unmistakable contempt for women and for femaleness:
“Their voices have a strange pubescent ring to them that isn’t right in a tonal way. Their arms are women's arms. Their jawlines are women’s jawlines. Their voices crack and give them away. I can't imagine that anyone would think they are men. Pretty certain, too, that one lesbian has had a mastectomy. As she gets my latte, I notice her feet. They are small. Her legs are female. Everything screams ‘woman, female, lesbian’ to me.”
The AfterEllen piece is a dramatic escalation in an argument about trans masculinity, and its place within communities of queer women, that is old and exhausting, and has conditioned the lives of hundreds of thousands of trans men and transmasculine non-binary people for decades. As chance would have it, I’ve been convening a conversation thread on this topic between some writers recently, which I’ve transcribed below.
The three participants and I all have very different relations to butchness and transmasculinity, but rather than name them in advance, I'll let them discuss those relations. And I’ll let them introduce themselves more broadly, too.
Molly Priddy: I’m Molly, I use she/her pronouns, and I live in Montana where I work as a newspaper reporter near Glacier National Park. I also do some writing for Autostraddle. Sometimes I send babes pushup gifs.
Daniel Alexander Mallory Ortberg: I’m Daniel Ortberg, male pronouns, and I am best-known for making a joke about Black Mirror that everyone tweets back to me whenever Black Mirror comes out with a new season. “Remember when you said that thing about phones”
Charlie Zieke: I’m Charlie/Sad Butch Collective, 27, Minnesota queer, farm boy, and official Lesbian Nation deserter. I rarely tout my LN status, but this seems like the perfect conversation to dive into it - I wish we could all get a cup of tea and talk with our hands over this.
Grace Elisabeth Lavery: So, our topic is the narrative that sometimes gets called “butch flight,” but it's an old and slightly tiresome phrase and we might all decide we want to use something better. The narrative, which is as old as ftm transition, is something like: we are losing our butches to testosterone and maleness. Every part of this is fascinating to me, as a fear, or as a piece of reasoning. The “we,” the “losing,” the “our,” and the notion that transition is less queer, and more definitive, than lesbian identity or butch identity. I’m interested in why people feel this way, and what political desires and interests the feeling enables or licenses.
DAMO: One of the things I was surprised by when we were doing a little preliminary research by googling “butch flight” is that almost every article written on the subject over the last few years has had the same Paula Cole-ish format: WHERE HAVE ALL THE BUTCHES GONE? And not all of them are straightforward laments; plenty of them talk perfectly candidly about shifting queer identities and how different eras need different terms. But the title almost always stays the same.
GEL: Yeah, does anyone know where that phrase comes from? Or what the cultural touchstones for butch flight are, anyway?
MP: Well, no, but I am really honored and excited to be part of this project, because it’s a subject in which I’ve been marinating my brain since college, when I discovered I could rent The L Word DVDs at the Blockbuster in Helena, Montana. Which, actually, gets me to the thing I think of as an important part of this discourse, which isn’t a written piece at all but a scene from Season 3 of that show.
We are introduced to a character named Moira, a midwestern newbie to LA who is going to become Max, and the show is terrifically transphobic about Max’s whole transition, which I won’t get into entirely. But in one instance, Max is subjected to a lecture from Kit Porter, an ostensibly straight cis woman who runs a cafe that all the queers frequent, about how his transition is “our” loss.
“It just saddens me to see so many of our strong, butch girls giving up their womanhood to be a man!” Kit said. “We’re losing our greatest warriors, our women, and I don’t wanna lose you!”
As a budding gay person and one who felt butch but not like I was a man, this felt almost like a threat, as if exploring masculinity more within myself would be a betrayal to the lesbian community. Which didn’t actually make sense! I didn’t have the words for it then, but I knew it wasn’t right, and I didn’t like how being trans was conflated with abandoning defenseless women . It was my first introduction to the idea of butch flight.
DAMO: Molly, I remember that scene from The L Word so well! The first time I watched The L Word I was a classic Alice; going from Alice to Max was UNEXPECTED, to say the least, so the first time I saw that scene I definitely thought it was an odd argument for Kit to make but none of it struck home with me, because I thought of butches as this remarkable class of people I found totally mysterious, wildly attractive, and totally unlike me.
CZ: Kit’s grilling of Max was brutal and holds as the only point in the whole show where I disliked her character.
GEL: Kit cast butches and trans men as alternative life-paths for the same person. But I wonder if anyone actually experiences either position that way?
DAMO: It’s funny, in my life as a woman I was almost never read as butch by anyone else – maybe occasionally aggressive or swagger-y in terms of behavior, but not in my appearance – but since I started transitioning I get read as a butch woman in public 99% of the time. So my only experience ‘as a butch’ is post-transition; I didn’t start out as a butch who was slowly magnetized into transness, as the thinking sometimes goes. By my mid-twenties I was mostly spending time socially and romantically with women, usually queer woman, so by the time I started transitioning – and I’d say in the last two years I get read as a butch lesbian in public about 99% of the time – I didn’t have many men in my life. The ones I knew were, you know, mostly gay and/or trans, so I don’t have much of an opportunity to compare interactions with cis straight men again.
Molly, you might be able to speak to some of that too; you mentioned having a sense at least partway with that Kit/Max moment of being also unfairly indicted in something. I don’t know, it’s hard when there’s a whole sense of community that’s invested in your own gender/body/lesbianness as a sort of public resource!
MP: When I talk about thinking about masculinity in my life, there was a solid 18 years where I didn’t know I was a lesbian, let alone a butch one. I’d grown up as a tomboy, and I know we don’t love that term anymore but that’s what I was told I was at the time. A girl, just, like, one who likes to play outside and stuff. Femininity and its trappings did not come easily to me (still don’t!) and I had to work to understand what I was supposed to look like because it all felt so unnatural.
By the time I was in college and figured out whoops actually I’m gay and I can dress however the fuck I want, I was thinking about how I’m perceived, how that could affect my safety, how it could be challenged. And part of that was this sentiment of butch flight I didn’t even know existed in queer communities, like trans men are somehow turncoats on women, that theres a limit to how far I’m supposed to think about my masculinity even outside the heteronormative structure.
CZ: I was one of those kids whose queerness oozed, unseen by me, but very, very visible to the small farming town I grew up in. I never really came out, but I stopped denying it when I was around 12. When I turned 18, I packed my truck and headed to the only place I knew queer people existed - Michigan Womyn's Musical Festival. MichFest has gifted me with an incredible amount of self-shame/community betrayal AND it was the first place I saw butch/transmasculine people - there were leather dykes driving tractors shuttling naked people, butch elders EVERYWHERE, and a good smattering of top surgery scars. For the first time in my life, I experienced value as a masculine being, but also had my gender presentation construed to whatever definition best fit the observer. I went to a workshop called “The Good Butch” - watched butch elders cry as they talked about bathrooms and parents and how to deal with the toxicity they saw creeping up in them. One day, there was a “Butch Strut,” where waves and waves of butches, dressed as handily & dandily as they could pack for the woods, marched to the night stage. I was standing on the sidelines in all my 18-year-old anxiety, when two salt & pepper butches pulled me to march with them - one of them whispered in my ear - “these people love you” - and I marched & cried & felt so connected to those people and that place.
DAMO: I’m fascinated by that seminar title. My immediate read on it was that it was one of those kind of anxious seminars that revolve around the following idea: if men are the bad gender and women are the good gender, then femininity is additionally virtuous and masculinity is suspect, which means butches are in danger of bringing the patriarchy back to our doorstep so we’d better figure out a way to be Good Butches, but it may not have run along those lines at all.
CZ: In the years since, of course, MichFest closed after 40 years, much to do with their exclusionary admission policy & general attitudes of the attendees. I've struggled to hear & honor the butch elders I met at Michigan, while also showing up authentically as my whole person. This usually ends in a conversation where I state my relationship to my body & identity and they respond with something about body mutilation and trans/big pharma connections. Why bother with these terfs at all, you might ask - and I don’t have a great answer. I’ve been on testosterone for three years and am planning on having top surgery this year, and my main identity still holds as butch. I feel connected to Leslie Feinberg & gender outlaws & dykehood far more than malehood. Connecting with butch elders feels like a sweet homecoming to me, but often, these people who spent their entire lives getting kicked out of bathrooms don't see me as their natural kin because of this bizarre idea of butch flight - that I have left Lesbos and am firmly planted on the island of Penis. I have a lot of my own feelings about shared experience and what it means to be lesbian-adjacent and still pack in a jock strap, but I’m going to slow down...
GEL: It’s wonderful to hear about your experience at Michigan, Charlie. And it sounds just magical, however troubling in certain retrospective senses. To echo Kit for a minute, “we’ve” also “lost” a lot of lesbian bars, of course – I remember the first time I stepped into The Lexington in the Mission in SF, years before I formally came out. It was thrilling. And I just googled Sisters, the lesbian bar in Philly I used to go to with some dyke friends, to find that it closed in 2013, just after I left the city, and then re-opened as a straight bar the following year. It was in Sisters, when I was dancing around the nightclub floor with two women I hardly speak to anymore, that I felt seen and known in a way that just wasn’t happening for me at graduate school. One of them held my hand and told me we were the same. I learned a couple of years ago that that person has since begun their own transmasculine journey. I hope they have love and joy in their lives - which they seem to, if Instagram is anything to go by. What else have we lost, recently?
DAMO: There used to be a butch-for-butch dating site called Butch Boi; I don’t think it still exists anywhere. But when I used to go to women’s nights at gay bars in SF, I’d occasionally see this butch-butch couple around, and that was in a lot of ways a root for me in terms of figuring out my gender.
The other thing I was surprised by recently was when you, Grace, asked me if I thought Ruby Rose was butch or femme; I don’t exactly think of her as butch but she’d certainly fall under the boiiiiiii/andro rubric, although obviously with a heaping helping of “she is an extremely glam model/actress.” You claimed she was femme and I said, “No, she’s just extremely beautiful, which is not the same thing.” And it made me think of a handful of times in my own pre-transition life when I would maybe slack off a bit in the dresses-and-makeup department and my mom asked if I was butch, and I was like, “No, I’m just lazy and in college and wearing PJs all the time," and I think people sometimes use butch/femme as shorthand for “straight-woman hot” or “not-straight-woman-hot” when I don’t think that’s quite the same thing.)
GEL: I didn’t say that! You’re misrepresenting me!
[Reader, I really didn’t say that. But I’m not going to get into it now.]
MP: I also have some feelings about Ruby Rose but we don’t know each other well enough yet for that.
DAMO: So I think the question was whether “soft butch” is shorthand for “a butch woman straight men think is hot,” and lesbian meatheads (I maintain that Ruby Rose should be treated like Channing Tatum; everybody loves him and expects very little from him beyond being fun and hot). I would quibble, I think, about whether Shane from The L Word gets presented as something people should want to be! I think the show is very much enamored of her hotness but everyone on-screen is pretty clear on the fact that she is a selfish mess and ruins every relationship she touches.
GEL: Re. butch hotness, this. And then, talking of The L Word, what ABOUT Shane, who is my bugbear with that show. I really hate the way the writers excuse her misogyny and fecklessness!
MP: Shane’s not awesome to women! Her entire thing is that she fucks a lot of women and breaks their hearts! And she's presented as some sort of butch Everest, what we should want to be. I’ve had the surreal locker-room experience of cis dudes and other butches high-five me for getting laid. I’ve also had femme people react almost violently to the feeling that I, a butch person, might be using them. “There’s this idea that if a woman is doing it, it’s OK,” one of those femmes told me recently in a convo about this. “We don’t call out misogyny in butch women, but are reminded to hold trans men to tight standards, the things we wouldn’t let cis men get away with.” And after I got comfortable with the soft-butch label and started presenting more masculine of center, misogynistic behaviors I wouldn’t condone in men were expected to be tolerated in masculine women.
DAMO: My question is this: IS SHANE BUTCH? In the “Yes, of course” category we have the obligatory “put her in a dress and play it for laughs” scene in S2, we have The Smoky Voice, we have the sometimes-short hair, I think she wore a bad Ellen DeGeneres-style suit to her would-be wedding. In the “BUT IS SHE?” category we have the omnipresent eyeliner (and frequent full face of makeup), the fact that she blanches when Max calls her butch/doesn’t ever call herself one. She’s got an androgynous sort of face and she’s a jerk to her girlfriends, but I don’t think those are inherently butch qualities. Straight women are really into her, but I think butchness and a semi-andro sexual charisma are really different! But I’m not exactly sure how to explain that.
MP: Learning about toxic masculinity blew up that line of thinking, though. I’d adopted a toxic form of masculinity as my own because I thought that’s what it was; the cowboy-western version of macho where men don’t have feelings and if they do, they better not say anything about them. Where men are expected to be self-reliant and self-sufficient in every way, and anything less is failure and weakness. Loving your family comes perilously close to being called gay, you should only love the open range and freedom and your gun. Sometimes love for your horse is allowed BUT don’t tell anyone about it until you have to kill the horse. If pesky feelings persist, drink. Grim and bear it. That version of masculinity is largely defined as “not femininity,” which is a silly way to do anything because they exist on two different frequencies, not fighting for the same bandwidth.
GEL: One of the more trans–ish novels of the nineteenth century is Charlotte Brontë’s early novel The Professor, which is the only one of her novels with a male protagonist. The plot is all about his inability to be properly dudely, which he eventually overcomes and gets married and has a son. In the final scene, his little son comes to him, sad that his puppy has been injured, and our now newly masculine hero picks up his shotgun and kills the dog, leaving it on the lawn to be cradled by the inconsolable son. It’s very unclear whether the novel thinks that Crimsworth was just ‘doing what he had to do,’ or whether we are supposed to find his actions as monstrous as I, at least, never fail to. In any case Brontë solved the problem by rewriting the novel with a female protagonist, and it became Villette, her masterpiece.
MP: Yes. While I was trying to figure out how masculine I felt, I still had that “if you cross, you are a man now and have betrayed your kind” boundary looming. It was hard to reconcile two ideas I’d formed about masculinity: that it is the opposite of women, and that it is part of me, a cis woman. It took a long time to realize they were two different dials on the same control panel.
DAMO: Molly, it’s so interesting to me to think about ways in which butchness opened up a new (if not necessarily desirable) type of relationship with straight cis men for you. I experienced something similar-but-distinct, I think, in my late teens and early twenties, as a mostly-feminine-but-with-a-weird-underlying-vibe girl, where I would participate in similarly surreal locker-room type experiences, but at my own expense. Since I wasn’t butch but I was desperate to bro down (or at least get them to like me enough via broing down that I could eventually isolate them and try to trick them into emotional intimacy, like a very needy apex predator desperate to connect with the most vulnerable-looking wildebeest), that connection would have to be founded on either dismissive, dude-style commentary on women in general or myself-as-a-woman in particular. It was, unsurprisingly, often quite painful for me!
[At this point the conversation sort of rotated back to the backburner for a couple of weeks, after which Molly jumped back in.]
MP: There’s a nasty transphobic piece on AfterEllen today, I don’t recommend reading it or giving them the clicks, but the headline is, “Butch Genocide, Served With A Progressive Smile” so our discussion is timely. Anyway, letting you know so you can avoid, and I’m sorry if you wouldn’t have otherwise known about it, because that site and what it produces is just garbage.
CZ: Having one of those moments where I have to remind myself that trauma manifests in ‘us v. them thinking’ and whoever thought that title speaks truth is carrying buttloads of hurt around with them, enough where seeing sweet masculine of center queers riles them up to the point where they shit on other queer lived experience.
...one run-on sentence to say: nope to that.
GEL: Charlie, I love your big-hearted and loving assessment of trauma as the root of binary/scarcity thinking. I’m also startled by this escalation by AfterEllen, who have been dicks on this issue for a while, but this... It’s self-evidently a riff on the phrase “white genocide,” no? I’m wondering if we have a particular way to address that collectively, and really feeling the limits of my own experience and expertise. And want to say a special “I love you” to all you queer motherfuckers, trans, butch, and flexi. So, I love you all!!
MP: Autostraddle teamed up with other queer organizations to write this the last time AE came out with bullshit like this.
GEL: I remember that. I was so grateful for it.
DAMO: I sometimes see attempts to line up a certain type of anti-trans sentiment with white supremacy on Twitter, and I don’t always find it plausible (while white supremacy and transphobia often go hand in hand, I’m not necessarily convinced that one is the sole cause of the other). But in this case, the language of “butch genocide” seems like such an obvious nod to “white genocide.” I’m not sure to what degree I feel prepared to contextualize a piece like this in terms of trauma and misplaced hurt – I don’t want to dismiss this merely as the lashings-out of a hurt person in need of healing. I think it’s reasonable to treat this as calculated, as cruel, as willful bigotry, not merely a confused byproduct of the writer’s experiences with sexism and homophobia.
MP: And I agree with you, Daniel, about the writer of that piece, which is why I’m more upset with the publishing platform than that person. After my divorce last year, I got super depressed, and for me that means I just kind of stop being interested in eating. It turns into a eat-to-live situation, so I lost a lot of weight over the year. It slimmed my face and brought out my jaw, and two gay men have since mistaken me for a man, and I’ve been misgendered as a man more in the last year than ever in my life (walked into a gas station bathroom a couple weekends ago and a little girl asked her mom if they were in the girls or boys room. That kind of stuff). This is the first time in my life this has happened to me, and if the person doesn’t feel like a threat, I feel that I have the bandwidth to talk to them about how myself and others can look.
It’s been an interesting experience because I never felt comfortable in the traditional feminine trappings of being a girl, and haven’t ever felt comfortable in my clothes or skin until I was able to find a butch identity, comfortably, in my late 20s. And it’s been such a comfortable fit, the misgendering and anything else just sort of rolls off me; it’s helped me see it’s not about me, it’s about them.
In rural Montana, I’m an experience for other people sometimes, and I have accepted that. I think that’s what you mean by saying you’re finding acceptance of what is. I have masculine features, I am a cis woman, I am a lesbian, and who I am should have no impact on how anyone else feels about their own identity.
DAMO: I was talking to a trans guy friend of mine last night about the kind of “friendly and supportive first cousins” relationship we have with butch women, especially since both of us get pegged as women in public more often than not. No one ever took me for a butch lesbian until I started taking testosterone. I’ve said this before, but I do think it’s funny how prior to transitioning I was a reasonably feminine-looking woman who felt pretty anxious about my own appearance and feared being not-pretty a great deal; after nearly two years on hormones I look remarkably different and-yet I don’t, apparently, look to most people like a man. And that was something I used to fear a lot, and now it’s my reality, and I’ve been surprised by how okay that is. So much of transitioning for me has involved relinquishing certain fantasies of control and finding new relationships to what is.
GEL: The most amazing thing happened and now I am in tears, walking through Denver airport. Two young lesbians sitting at the next table called me to tell me they liked my shoes and my hair. Their names were Quinn, a beautiful femme, and Skyler, a beautiful butch. They live in a small town in Colorado, and Quinn had come to the airport to say goodbye to Skyler, who is flying to Kansas City for the weekend. Skyler had just cut her hair off so that she could join the Air Force, but then decided against it because she and Quinn want to get married and have children in three years, and the minimum commitment that the Air Force would allow is seven years.
They asked what I was working on, and I told them about this conversation. I tried to explain the motivation for the AfterEllen article, and they both found it as baffling as people do when I start explaining some obscure element of 1870s physiological aesthetics. Skyler talked about being occasionally mistaken for a boy - including, once, by Quinn, when she came to surprise her at work, and at first only saw her silhouette. I asked her whether she ever felt pressured to become a boy, or to identify as one. She said “no... I mean, I know boys have it easier so I think about it sometimes from that perspective. But then I know I already look like a boy so it doesn’t make much difference.” And then she thought a little further, and said “I sometimes feel like I’m a boy, I think I’m quite fluid. It's not consistent.” Quinn then chimed in, and said “I am a lesbian, and I would love her if she became a boy. It’s easy.” Throughout the whole conversation, I got the impression that these two wonderful people had just never quite thought about these things in this way, and were a little surprised that I seemed to care so much about it.
I talked with them about my own transition, and how beautiful it has been - how exasperated I am by the constant embattlement that people feel around trans issues, and how trans people often feel either shy or prurient talking about delight and pleasure in public. I told them that I was deeply surprised to learn that transition could work for me, because all I had heard about transition before I started was just about how it doesn’t work, increases dysphoria, makes one depressed or suicidal, etc. I told them my experience had not been like that at all, and I am thoroughly bored of the expectation that I must perform misery and grimness to be taken seriously; which, I also said, I also associate with the kind of forced masculinization of my adolescence. They seemed a little confused by part of that - again, these were obviously kids unfamiliar with The Discourse - but they basically got what I was saying. They told me about friends they have that want to transition but can’t, either because they are too young, or their parents aren’t supportive. I felt a moment of tenderness with them.
I petted their gorgeous dog, a large springer spaniel named Echo. I asked how old they were, and they said they were both 18, and I told them I am 36, their ages combined. We shared something very special. I don’t know, I didn’t expect to find a queer utopia in Denver airport, but here we are. I’m flying back to Oakland now, and I honestly feel in some way quite changed by this experience. I didn’t specifically ask them whether I could talk about this conversation in print, but I think Skyler followed me on insta and I will ask her. [I did indeed contact Skyler on Insta and she was very happy for me to share our conversation.]
DMO: Grace, I love the stories about people you meet at airports. (I travel in a little bubble of headphones and silence.)
GEL: Anyway. Ahem. Does anyone have any final thoughts?
CZ: What I'll leave you with is an art project that they rolled out the year I went to Michigan about seeing & honoring a wide definition of "womyn". Although not the language I would use, seeing the wide breadth of masculine bodies with socialized girlhood experience was life-changing for me.
DAMO: I’m not sure how this anecdote fits in, exactly, but I feel moved to share it: There’s a really sweet cis guy both Grace and I are friendly with in Oakland, and when I had mentioned in a group setting that I was having trouble shaving my face, offered to teach me sometime. It was very kind, and very big-brother-ish, and I felt simultaneously warmed that he would want to help me do a “guy’ thing and also like he was treating me on some level more as a kid sister than a man (which is probably part of why I never took him up on it, although I was very moved by his offer). He mentioned that he’d never known his dad and had learned to shave in the Navy, and I said “Listen, anytime you want to teach me how to shave and talk about daddy issues and being in the Navy, you give me a call.” It was a sort of dumb, obvious joke, but it was also something that’s stuck in my memory and feels, somehow, butchily relevant, at least in my own strange proximate relationship to butchness. I’ve really appreciated everyone’s generosity and thoughtfulness in this thread. Thanks for asking me to be part of it.
MP: Our taxonomy as LGBTQ+ humans is dynamic and expanding, and more people are filtering to more specific identities. That’s the only way I can explain anyone’s sense of butch flight. Thanks for including me in this conversation, you all have lovely brains
GEL: I don’t know whether we ever answered the question of whether Shane is actually butch. But I’m really grateful to you all for asking it. Thank you, everybody. This was magical.