Different Ways To Be A Woman

Photo by Rayne's Avante-Garde
Article By E.S. Wynn

I have heard (and read) the argument that transwomen are a threat to feminism. The argument is that transgender individuals who are female inside (regardless of any other aspect of their physical form) aren't really women, and that we actually weaken feminism because so many of us engage with our femininity by embracing existing feminine stereotypes to a degree that far outstrips the "average" woman, reinforcing a bad standard and making it harder for "real" women to hold onto their power. In short, the view is that people like me damage feminism, especially when we wear dresses, makeup and work hard to pass as women. We reinforce an unrealistic feminine stereotype and do so out of mental illness and/or jealousy of the traits and bodies and power of “real” women.

Nothing could be further from the truth. What TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) people fail to realize is that, just as AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) women come in many, many different varieties and forms, AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth) women are not all clones of one another, nor does it damage feminism when any kind of woman wears makeup, pink clothing, dresses or embraces any kind of “feminine stereotype.” It's actually transphobic and sexist to assume that all transwomen choose to embrace oppressive feminine beauty standards by default (it also objectifies us and puts us all into a box, which isn't cool either) or to assume that embracing those standards is damaging to feminism. Feminism, at its core, is about freedom. It's about fighting for women to be seen as completely equal to men (this helps men too. See my article on feminism here: [link]) which means, among other things, women wearing whatever they want. Looking down on women who choose to be housewives or artists (instead of joining the holy grail STEM fields) and on AMAB women (who can't even go around bare-chested after having top surgery) doesn't help anyone. It's oppressive, and it's just as bad as the viewpoints and actions of people who would keep women out of the STEM fields. If you're going to fight for the rights of a group of people (or all people, depending on how you view feminism) then you can't just push aside and marginalize certain individuals within that group, especially with reactionary politics. If you say that you stand for equal rights, then stand for equality. Don't hold up scientists while poo-pooing homemakers. Don't hold up artists while sneering down at business executives. Don't glorify bio-born women while grinding transwomen under your heel.

AMAB individuals identifying as female (and transitioning to female) isn't about jealousy or power. It isn't about mental illness. It's about gender dysphoria. It's about knowing who you are inside and that identity being at odds with the body around you. It's a life-long and constant battle to accept oneself and to be accepted by others that should be simple and easy. Bottom line: if someone identifies as female, then they are female. What's the harm in accepting that? Does any good come of denying it? Of saying “sorry, you were born with a penis. You need to go be a man,” or “sorry, you like pink and have a hard time with math, you need to change.” Let people be people. Let women be women. Some women (AFAB, AMAB and otherwise) embrace the “feminine stereotypes” so hard they practically fart pink glitter and craft glue. Some women dress in suits and butch their hair. Some women bounce all over the spectrum, mixing elements and ideas and ways of being in highly individual ways that both embrace and deny stereotypes about what it means to be a woman. Joan Jett is a woman. Ruby Rose is a woman. Mae Jemison, Sally Ride and Sam Crisoforetti are women. Jane Goodall, Margaret Mead and Meave Leakey are all women, and so are other historic greats like Mother Theresa, Marilyn Monroe and every flapper or puritan girl who ever walked this Earth. Women come in endless hues, shapes and forms. We aren't all scientists. We aren't all girly-girls. We weren't all born female. We're individuals, each and every one of us completely unique. For anyone, male, female or otherwise to say that any group of people must adhere to the fashion, etiquette, biology or social standards of a particular stereotype (or be excluded from that group entirely) is ludicrous.

If you have a story about your own experience with gender dysphoria or have some useful tips that you’ve used to manage it in the past that you’d like to share with the readers of this blog, please feel free to contact me through the contact form here: [link] Make sure you have javascript enabled or the form will just display a blank page. If you’d like to share your experiences living as a trans person (or your experiences of living with someone who identifies as trans) drop me a line through the aforementioned contact form. I’d love to hear from you, and I’d love to share your perspective with our readers. Thank you!

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