Why Don’t People Accept Our Womanhood?
I read an article today written a few years ago by Parker Molloy for bustle.com. Here’s the link: http://www.bustle.com/articles/7727-im-a-transgender-woman-and-this-is-what-its-like It provides a nice refutation of a catalog of arguments that people use to deny trans women’s womanhood.
But, one thing Parker fails to account for is that people simply don’t trust us. They don’t trust what they see as men changing into women – and they are not without good cause – and by that I mean reason that is understandable from their perspective.
[Note: Photo taken from a Cosmopolitan photospread on people undergoing GRS in Cuba, and subtitled “Proof that genitals do not define people.” (link provided)]
Men cannot be trusted.
Men will do anything for a sexual thrill, and this is no different. Also, men’s sexual perversion knows no bounds – which is why, not only would they pretend to be women, they may even go so far as delude themselves into thinking they really are women. Of course, we are not men, but we have yet to win that battle with everyone.
Many trans women look and behave like men.
This is an inescapable fact, especially for those of us who have suppressed our gender identity for decades, lived in the male role all that time, and never got treatment to counteract the effects of testosterone.
For many of us, the initial forays into living as women come off as men co-opting womanhood for male pleasure. We bring women to life who will be the women that men have fantasized about, perhaps the women that Hollywood or pornography have created – always sexual, wearing the highest heels and shortest skirts, always in the mood and available, ultra-feminine and so on. People observing this behavior see it as misogynistic, inauthentic, and above-all, male.
Most of us who go on to live our lives as women progress beyond immature and simplistic portrayals of women. We learn in our adult-onset second adolescence what cis-females learn in their childhood, about the challenges of womanhood, about how to behave as a lady, about how to protect oneself, about how to deal with men, about how to deal with being thought of as lesser, about how to balance the many demands on us, and so on.
Different flavors of trans
But, others don’t progress. And still others are just starting out. I think this problem will fade somewhat as children are accepted as trans and have their hormones adjusted and learn the lessons of life at the proper time. But, the pesky fact that the trans experience is not uniformly the one we’ve been trying to sell – one of 100% certainty at first consciousness of one’s opposite gender identity – that some people feel themselves bi-gender, or incompletely feminine, or genderfluid, or discover their gender issues later in life – these make it harder for people outside the community to understand what we are going through and to trust what we are saying about ourselves. In truth, even for many of us, gender identity is a murky thing that bears discussion with therapists.
Some trans women live as men
For the 99.5% of people who do not have gender issues, their personal experience and the experience of everyone they know says that gender is not a question; you just are what you are and that can’t be changed. And, it is easy to tell the gender of anyone simply by looking at their body.
And, it is no trivial matter this comfort people have with knowing the difference between a man and a woman. It is a basic underpinning in how they understand the world. The very possibility of a person being a gender opposite to the one represented by their body is radical enough. But, when there are beautiful women out there on the street and in bars who will go to work the next day as men with beard stubble and low voices, this freaks people out. It upsets their whole world.
In time, we may evolve to the point where these things don’t matter to most people. But, we should not hold our breath to turn upside down a set of social expectations that works for all but a fraction of a percent of people.
In short, people don’t trust our gender proclamations because we don’t live up to their impressions of what a woman is in terms of our appearance or our behavior, because they cannot conceive of how a person is not defined by their body nor how a man can become a woman, and because of those of us who are women today and men tomorrow.
Most importantly, we don’t live up to the impression we have created of what trans womanhood means. We have been dishonest as a community for political purposes, pushing the simplistic and more easily understood story of being born and knowing completely and always that we were the gender opposite to what our bodies were saying. But people see what trans means on the street, and it doesn’t jive with that narrative. The stories of many in our community are more complex than that, and gender is more complex than that.