Green’s Dictionary of Slang

femme adj.

also fem
[femme n.]

1. female.

[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 9 Aug. [synd. col.] Matthew Vassar, who founded that femme college.
[US]W. Winchell ‘On Broadway’ 2 Sept. [synd. col.] There’s a school for femme criminals in Paris.
[US] ‘Campus Sl. at Minnesota’ in AS XX:3 Oct. 233/1: My femme friend was really dressed up.
[US]Down Beat 17 Nov. n.p.: Another femme singer, who has been in trouble before, walked out [...] because her chauffeur was picked up with heroin capsules.
[US]K. Marlowe Mr Madam (1967) 20: Many female impersonators, or femme-mimics, work au naturel.
[US]G. Tate Midnight Lightning 55: Feminist author and activist Germaine Greer, reviled as a cliché pro-femme ballbuster in her time.

2. (gay) used of an effeminate male homosexual.

[US]J. Rechy City of Night 100: Chuck the masculine cowboy and Miss Destiny the femme queen.
[US]Sat. Rev. (US) 12 Feb. 24: Today’s homosexuals can be open (‘come out’) or covert (‘closet’), practicing or uninhibited [...] manly (‘stud’) or womanly (‘fem’).
[US]K. Jay ‘A journey to the End of Meetings’ in Jay & Young (1979) 453: They were not into butch/femme roles so prevalent in the fifties and sixties.
P. Mortenson At Wanda’s Insistence [Internet] It attracted TVs and those interested in fem men from all over Spain and Europe but mainly Brits.
[US]J. Stahl I, Fatty 31: ‘Huh, Pansy-boy? Am I squeezin’ femme-lard?’.
[US]Wash. Post 14 June [Internet] If you’re lucky, it’s a mixed crowd, muscle Marys and bois and femme fags and butch dykes and genderqueers.

3. (gay, also femmy) used of a ‘female’ lesbian.

[US]Lavender Lex. n.p.: fem:–Short for feminine. This is the common expression of the lesbian denoting the submissive role.
[US]E. Newton Mother Camp 32: Female homosexuals also make a distinction between ‘butch’ and ‘fem’.
L. Block Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling (2005) 203: ‘I wonder how you’d look with a ruby in your navel.’ ‘A little too femme.’.
[US] in Delacoste & Alexander Sex Work (1988) 240: The ‘feminist’ interviewer would be appalled by fem whores or butch pimps.
[UK]Daring Hearts: Lesbian and Gay lives of 50s and 60s Brighton n.p.: You always had a little finger ring, whether you were butch or fem.
Kennedy & Davies Boots of Leather (2014) 237: ‘I wanted a girlfriend, a girlfriend that was more, like, femmy [...] That was what really turned me on was bleached blondes, and of course makeup and real femmy clothes, y'know, dresses and high heels’.
Kennedy & Davies Boots of Leather (2014) 5: All commentators on twentieth-century lesbian life have noted the prominence of butch-fem roles.
[US]R. Scott Rebecca’s Dict. of Queer Sl. [Internet] femme — [...] feminine, applied to both men and women.