Did you hear about the woman who gave birth to a woman? It hurt, apparently. Pushing out a full grown adult person tends to.
But I wouldn’t actually know – on account of not being a real woman. Real women can get pregnant and have babies and all of them do. They cry when they tell each other about it over coffee while their husbands are at work down the mines.
I’m not a real woman. I’m a trans woman, if I’m lucky enough to even be called that – because to a lot of people so much as having the word “woman” associated near me is a cardinal sin. I’m a MAN. I’ll always be a MAN. I was BORN A MAN.
Germaine Greer, and a lot of other high profile people in the media say I’m a man. They talk a fair amount about people like me, and the things we do. They talk among themselves about why we do these things, and what thoughts we have and who we are. And yet, for the most part – they don’t actually know us all that well.
It’s not my intention to go through the entire above video and dissect all of Greer’s points, but I do want to talk a little bit about the general tone of the interview and just a few of the unusual points that Greer brings up.
Basically, Germaine Greer has her own ideas about what it means to be “a woman”. She’s defined it in her head. She says at one point:
“I think that a great many women don’t think that erm, post operative or even non-post operative transsexual M to F transsexual people look like, sound like or behave like women. But they dare’nt say so.”
I don’t think it takes any sort of great stretch to see the hypocrisy in a scenario like this, where someone who’s been a part of an ongoing struggle to challenge certain gender based “norms” is now – when referring to a group of people who she sees as other from herself – clinging to a set of her own, equally as rigid gender ideals. Transsexuals don’t LOOK like women. It’s not unfair to challenge Greer on this. What is a woman SUPPOSED to look like? Transsexuals don’t SOUND like women. We don’t BEHAVE like women, apparently. The problem is, trans people are often criticized for overcompensating when it comes to transitioning. We often go through a period of “hyper feminisation” where we wear too much make-up, or adopt overt mannerisms – which is often unfairly mis-characterized as grotesque female parody, when in reality it’s nothing more than a reaction to years of repression and a desire to express ourselves. It’s usually phased out reasonably quickly. But at the same time, we’re scolded and targeted for not being able to fit in within society’s strict expectations. We can’t do right from doing wrong.
Not to mention the fact that no one’s really talking about FTM (female to male) transsexualism. It doesn’t come up quite as much, for which there are many possible reasons. I have heard radical feminists discuss trans men occasionally, and the general consensus from them as I understand it is that it’s just some kind of extreme confused penis envy. Because wanting to be a man is apparently more understandable.
Greer basically goes on to discuss Caitlyn Jenner getting an award for “Glamour Woman of the Year” and reflects that she believes it’s:
“misogynist…a man who goes to these lengths will be a better woman than someone who was just born a woman.”
I’m not exactly Caitlyn Jenner’s biggest fan, but for all her faults I don’t think she transitioned just to win Glamour Woman of the Year & obtain the “limelight that the other female members of the family were enjoying”. This kind of flippant explanation as to why people transition is ignorant. I can remember sitting my dad down and discussing my feelings to him. I was terrified. I can remember hiding upstairs when family came over because I didn’t want them to laugh at me. I was terrified. I remember filling out the NHS self referral form in my local library and posting it through the post box with my hands shaking. Again, terrified. As affirming and positive transitioning can be for a person, we also lose a lot in the process. I’ve lost friends, and had relationships crumble. I’ve been harassed and made fun of and embarrassed and unwell and all the rest of it. But I’m not looking for sympathy or even overt support – I just want you to know that absolutely no limelight was being sought out when I decided to change my life.
Some people say you can’t change who you are. Biology is biology is biology. And to a certain extent, I might agree. When I was born, the doctor reckoned I was a baby boy. He slapped me on the bum, handed me to my birth mother and handed her some powdered milk formula and a little bag of male privilege to ration out to me over my growing years. At that point though, I had no real conscious thought or insight into my gender identity. To gender something so small, so undefined… just seems unnecessary. Ultimately though, that little bag of male privilege that she was supposed to give to me got completely wasted (more on that another time). Despite what a lot of people think, I’m not deluded. I know I’m not biologically female. I can’t ever naturally bare children, or go back in time and live out my childhood years as a little girl – where social development is most important. It’s a great source of pain for me – and I know it all too well. Dysphoria itself is a condition of self loathing. But something I’ve come to understand is that this general displeasure with my biological sex is not something that’s ever going away – so I’ve have to make certain life decisions to best survive. That’s all we’re really trying to do – is get by.
I don’t think we should be defining anyone based on biology alone. For years women have been pigeon holed into societal roles based on the fact that they ARE WOMEN and that’s just what WOMEN DO. And to a similar affect, so have men.
But why have I written this? Why now?
Because I’ve had one of those days – which for me involves sitting around my flat in my pyjamas watching Youtube videos of radical feminists explaining why people like me are awful. I don’t know why I do it – it’s something to do with seeking validation. I feel like, if I listen to enough of these conflicting viewpoints I’ll eventually figure out the riddle of my own cruel existence – but mostly I just end up feeling worse about myself. I’ve been putting off writing about being transgendered for a long time now because I haven’t wanted it to define who I am, but unfortunately it just sort of does. It’s something which affects my life on a minute to minute basis. So I’m going to write about it every now and then, just to help myself get a better understanding of where I stand on things. I’m just trying to flesh out my own points of view. This is an issue that isn’t going to go away for me, so I need to continue to think about it and write about it.
Thank you for reading this and taking the time to listen to a transgendered person’s perspective. I want to embrace all sides of this thing, because conversation is the only way we’ll make sense of it all.
Don’t get offended – get talking. Just like kz78 here: