I recently made a transgender woman very angry.
In the kink scene, you meet a lot of transgender folks. It’s a community full of taboos, and since there are such rigid gender stereotypes in most of the world, the “freaks” have to stick together.
And usually I’m good with that. Usually I’m very okay with letting people be whoever the hell they want to be, and to define themselves in any way they like. However, much like religious freedom, your gender identity and gender concepts do not define me. I get to be my own person too.
There was a conversation going on about hormones, and how much they effect a person’s personality. Often, people who mess with their hormones for any reason find themselves truly shocked at the personality changes this can cause. We all like to think that we’re 100% responsible for who we are. But we’re really not. We’re made up of all sorts of chemicals and hormones that effect us much more than we like to admit.
So I chimed in. Because I had thyroid cancer, and the unbalanced hormones threw everything off. I found myself with more testosterone than a lot of men, plucking thick black facial hair and feeling aggressive all the time. But also, I stopped having my period.
For some girls, that wouldn’t effect their gender identity at all. They would still buy shoes or love styling hair or care about fashion. Or maybe they would still bake and do craft projects. Whatever. Because they were socialized as female, they would still have “female” traits that helped them identify with their gender.
But my dad wanted a son, and he raised me to be a boy. My childhood was all baseball, basketball, remote control cars, and blowing up my sister’s Babie Dolls with fireworks. I never identified with the female gender role cast by society, and I still don’t. So for ME, having a period was the thing that my guy friends teased me about that made me a girl. It was the only thing. I was as strong and fast and brave as them, but I had to buy tampons. And they teased me about it. I don’t mind. Guys often show affection by teasing. It’s part of how we/they are.
However, for me, when my T-levels spiked and I stopped getting my period (which to this day I still don’t get,) that’s when I no longer felt like a girl.
I made the mistake of saying this to the group, when talking about the profound consequences of a change in hormones.
And this transgender girl threw a fit at me. She said I was a horrible person for thinking that having periods has anything to do with being female. She said my idea of my gender was messed up. She totally flipped out on me.
It’s not like I don’t understand why. I get it. She has XY chromosomes and even if she has surgery to change her genitalia when she’s done with the hormones, she’ll still never have a period.
And you know; that does mean something. Transgender women act like it doesn’t mean something, but it does. It means they will never know the fear of getting pregnant. And they’ll never know the fear of BEING pregnant. So many teenage girls have truly horrific experiences with late periods and serious stress over accidentally finding yourself pregnant. And we stress about birth control. And we stress about the availability of abortions in some cases. An enormous part of being female is the fear of pregnancy and the consequences thereof. So no, trans women can take hormones and get surgery, but for now, that is one part of being female that is forever closed off to them.
Beyond that, it’s ridiculous to tell me that my gender identity can not be effected at all by my not having periods. Of course it can! It’s MY gender identity. I’m not defining anyone else’s gender or telling them how to feel about themselves. I’m just saying that I lost the thing that made ME feel like a girl, and now I mostly feel 100% male. I might live in a girl’s body, but that’s just the outside and I don’t place a lot of value on that. To me, I lost the thing that made me feel like a girl.
And if anyone should understand feeling like a gender whether or not your outsides match, it’s transgender folks.
Mostly I respect them because I would never have the courage to do that. I was born with XX chromosomes, and no matter what I feel like on the inside, my outsides will always reflect that. I’m not getting my breasts removed or having a fake penis installed. I’m not comfortable doing that to my body. But I respect people who do, because they have far more commitment than I do to make their outsides match their insides.
I just think everyone should remember to let people define their own gender how they want. It’s not fair to try to tell others what criteria they should define themselves by.