I was recently challenged by someone who wanted to know what I’ve learned about being a woman. I kind of took it as a sort of challenge to my womanhood in general – like a litmus test if you will.
That set me to thinking, because it’s not an easy answer.
I have learned a lot, and continue to do so every day, but I have so much to learn.
There is also no right answer because every single one of us experiences the world a little differently. I have been shaped by my experiences and yours have shaped you. My reality is different than yours, but that reality doesn’t make me less of a woman. We are all unique. Sure, we share many common experiences, but we also have many differences.
I don’t have periods and can’t have a child, much to my regret. I was socialized male as much as my parents, teachers and society could do. My body was poisoned by Testosterone for 40 years. I lived in a gender role that made me feel alien at times. So what I’m saying is, that I completely missed being socialized as a little girl and a young woman. That’s a mixed bag too – because I hear girls can be mean.
This also leads into the recent discussion about the comments of CNN’s Piers Morgan – but he’s not alone – in asserting that it is the gender correction surgery that is the deciding factor between being a man and a woman. This couldn’t be more wrong.
(Is the picture above of a boy or a girl? Or does it matter?)
Look, I’ve known I was a little girl since my earliest memories of self- awareness. I was a girl that was forced by loving parents who were unfortunately unaware of my gender issue, to live my life as a boy. That doesn’t make me a boy. I knew I was a girl – my brain told me so.
What is in between my legs, which I decline to discuss anyway, doesn’t matter. Let me illustrate it this way –
If a cis-man, (one who is congruent between his gender and body) has an accident where he had to have his penis amputated, it would not render him female. It just wouldn’t. If someone were to surgically attach a penis to say – Marilyn Monroe…she would still be all girl. The tail – or in this case, the penis – doesn’t wag the dog!
You just KNOW who you are; if I were to ask you – male or female? You would know. Right away. I bet you could do-so without undoing your pants and checking, because that doesn’t matter. Your brain knows.
So, I really don’t mean to come off sounding all snippy – personally, my circle of friends and family have generally been quite supportive and understanding. But for many others, some of them close to me, such is not the case and it’s for them I write this post.
If you really care about the person and are not just trying to satisfy your curiosity, aim your questions and concern at the Trans* person’s heart, not at their crotch. Most of us have pretty thick skin but many of us have also felt the sting of verbal abuse and mis-gendering from those who are ignorant of our struggle. We are also likely to grow tired of answering the same questions:
- So, are you gay?
- Have you had “The Surgery”?
- Do you still like girls?
- Can you still have sex?
I can answer those for you, but it’s unlikely you would ask those of your other friends, so just treat me like any other friend and we’re cool.
If a friend or relative you care about comes out to you, I know you may be shocked, but do your best to listen to them. Know in the back of your mind that there is a pretty good chance the struggle they are dealing with has driven them to attempt suicide at some point. Yes, it’s that bad. 41% of Trans* people have tried to take their own lives because the pain was just too much.
It’s high time we educate ourselves that what makes us men or women isn’t as simple as an appendage or lack of one. It’s intrinsic to each of us. Please don’t try and reduce it to something so simple as a flap of skin. We are much more than that.
(Regarding the baby picture – if you said “Girl” – you win! It’s me as a baby)