I was scrolling through FetLife this morning and saw this question posted in a woman’s group. The original poster shared she’d asked the question in a TG support group online and gotten some really interesting answers and thought she’d ask in an all-inclusive women’s group. I’ve been tumbling this around in my head for several hours now. Come along on the journey with me. Perhaps add your own thoughts and insights.
I identify as a cisgender woman. I can’t exactly tell you why. It’s not my physical body or how the world views me. It’s not the social constructs of gender roles which make me feel like a woman. The best answer I can give you is I feel comfortable in my own skin.
I have no interest or tolerance for denying someone’s experience. What I can safely express is not understanding the feelings of gender dysphoria.
I want to unpack gender norms a bit and how they have played out in my world. I was raised in the suburbs with very traditional constructs of gender roles. I was raised by an older single mother (she was married in 1952 at 18) making the values I learned at home even more conservative than those of my peers with hippy parents.
There were rules I learned young about how to relate in the world based solely on the gender I was born. Rules about how to dress, how to speak to people, how to defer to men in some areas, what type of work was socially acceptable for me. The list of rules are a mile long. Slurs were made about women that didn’t follow those rules. Being a woman meant X,Y,Z period.
I’ve been a rebel all my life! I started breaking the rules of gender norms young. I’m not quiet and passive. I’m strong willed and speak my mind. I don’t tolerate a lot of things. I’m physically strong. I paint the house and dig trenches in the yard when I want it done. I have a very strong, dominant personality. The list goes on far past my personality. I’ve often been criticized for not being feminine enough in a whole host of ways. Somehow “feminine” equates to being a woman.
In my early adult life I started exploring my sexuality as a bisexual woman. I made tons of friends in the LGBTQIA+ community. Gender roles got busted into an oblivion! I tried on many hats myself.
When I brought home my first girlfriend my mother asked me, “Who’s the man and who’s the woman?”. I’d heard this slur enough times I wasn’t shocked. We’re both women. She replied some version of, “You know what I mean”. I did, but I wouldn’t acknowledge the way she was speaking of us as valid. In her mind there was a man with certain attributes and a woman with other attributes. There was no way of speaking or thinking about a relationship or gender in other terms. I always dated androgenous to butchy women with more masculine interests and careers bending her simple mind further.
It was around this same time I met someone transitioning in the extended group I was in. I never thought twice about it. Since I’ve had a number of friends who’ve transitioned and those who identify as gender-fluid (feeling both male and female at different times) without transitioning.
The original question was what makes you feel like a woman. I have no idea. lol I just know I am and it’s comfy. Socially constructed gender roles are what so many use to judge another’s gender and to what degree. I see gender roles being fought against in the most beautiful ways. I see the concept of gender being totally redefined right now. I’m excited to see the changes. Am I a little uncomfortable at times? Yes. Do I agree with the need for change and acceptance? Absolutely!
What does NOT make me feel like a woman? Having other’s ideas about what being a woman is and isn’t foisted upon those of us who identify in any way as a woman.