This is probably the hardest one, it really is. After all, you might have known us a long time. Maybe this all feels a little unnatural and then again it just is so easy to think up objections to why we aren’t genuine. Let me go down the major ones to quell the fear.
Not being brought up as sex M or F
If you gather ten women or ten men together they will each have a unique story about their upbringing. I don’t doubt that there’s more in common with the single sex groupings, but I’d be surprised if you found that they were different by every measure.
Now if you’re trans you actually don’t fit in well, astonishing as that might seem. You’re a tomboy who never lets go of her jeans and really despises anything close to a dress, or you’re a boy who really hates sports and freaks out at a lot of boy behavior. A good deal of that boy or girl specific upbringing passes them by.
That’s one aspect. Here’s another one. If you were called into the hospital because your friend Sue had been in an accident and lost her long term memories, would Sue still be a woman? You didn’t have to think about that, did you? Sue can’t remember being raised – her new memories start from the moment she woke up. Don’t worry, Sue will have other problems as we go on, but no actual Sue’s were damaged in this writing.
For Trans women – no cycle, no pregnancy, or you still have your boy parts
Easy one first. Some women aren’t able to get pregnant or don’t want to get pregnant. Although they were treated poorly in some eras they were always considered women. Hard to see the difference in that respect. Plus the trans person, male or female may well be a parent regardless.
No cycle – it happens with natal women for a couple of reasons that I’m aware of, mostly developmental. There might be other reasons I don’t know of, and of course medical problems might necessitate a hysterectomy at some relatively young age.
Do we consider girls before menarche to not be female? Certainly that’s not true. How about women after menopause? Not that either.
The non-surgical issue is harder to understand I think. There are several reasons that you might be content with this. It gender a physical or a mental construct? If Sue (poor, poor Sue!) had her body somehow sliced off at the waist but was kept otherwise alive and whole, and if Frank had the same done, would Sue be a woman and Frank be a man? If yes, then why would that be true unless gender resides in the brain?
If gender is in the brain, the genitals are somewhat secondary. It might well be an issue if you wanted to be the person’s bed partner, but we’re not talking about that kind of intimate acceptance.
About a quarter of trans women get reassignment surgery and there are various reasons for that:
- Money, this is a big reason. Even though this is changing, it is still not included in most insurance plans. For most people, spending $30,000 is a lifetime wish. I would guess the number of trans people getting surgery would likely double without this barrier.
- Fear. There is risk to everything, and reassignment surgery is no different. While the chance of dying is virtually nil, the chance of a nasty complication is only small, maybe 1 in 200, and there is always the chance of losing the ability to orgasm.
- Happy. They like what they have and feel no great desire to change it. Without feelings of dysphoria there’s no driving force, and truthfully it isn’t an irrational conclusion.
For all of these cases they are still fundamentally female. I will admit there is a common attitude that we are not as “dedicated” if we haven’t had reassignment surgery. Mostly this is a misunderstanding of the difficulties involved, the long waiting times for the limited number of surgeons who perform the operations and the financial limitations that many people struggle with.
You aren’t …
Pick one, nurturing enough, kind enough, submissive enough. Some characteristic that is seen as a litmus test for women. Just recognize how well you need to know someone to make such a categorical statement. We don’t live glued to other people’s sides to know what kindnesses they do or what pressures they resist.
It’s funny, I’ve become very sensitive to the differences between men and women and there are general differences. There are things women generally do that men seem to never do, BUT, we need to remind ourselves that for any single behavior there’s a range and some women will exhibit little and some men a great deal or vice versus.
Example: A common female behavior is to ruminate about social interactions and think about what they meant and how they could have gone better. We usually prefer to see people in person so we can read what’s on their face and in their body language.
Most men don’t do this. I used to drive myself nuts when my boss was in California and I would only see him 4 or 5 times a year. I’d be wondering if everything really was ok. Then I’d see him and it would be fine. But I absolutely had to see him in person. I’ve never known of a man to have that sort of reaction and I’m told that my feelings are very typical of women.
Can there be a guy out there who does this who isn’t a trans woman? Of course. I’m just saying that there are broad stroke differences. But those strokes are wide and we aren’t psychoanalysts trained to decide if our friend’s behaviors are appropriate for their target gender.