For those unfamiliar with her, Julia Serano is trans woman who is also a trans feminist and activist. Her most well known writing is a book called Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. Within one of the chapters, she tells a story about a friend of hers who asks how she would feel if she found out the woman she was dating was trans. Julia’s answer was that she would be honored, and when he joked that he “didn’t know she was into that kind of thing,” she corrected him that it’s not about the genitals at all. I’ve included below a bit of a reading from that chapter and what follows, and then I’ll talk about it.
“My friend, still seemingly perplexed, asked me, ‘So if it’s not about genitals, what is it about trans women’s bodies that you find most attractive?’
“I paused for a second to consider the question. Then I replied that it is almost always their eyes. When I look into them, I see both endless strength and inconsolable sadness. I see someone who has overcome humiliation and abuses that would flatten the average person. I see a woman who was made to feel shame for her desires and yet had the courage to pursue them anyway. I see a woman who was forced against her will into boyhood, who held onto a dream that everybody in her life desperately tried to beat out of her, who refused to listen to the endless stream of people who told her that who she was and what she wanted is impossible.
“When I look into a trans woman’s eyes, I see a profound appreciation for how fucking empowering it can be to be female, an appreciation that seems lost on many cissexual women who sadly take their female identities and anatomies for granted, or who perpetually seek to cast themselves as victims instead of instigators. In trans women’s eyes, I see a wisdom that can only come from having to fight for your right to be recognized as female, a raw strength that only comes from unabashedly asserting your right to be feminine in an inhospitable world. In a trans woman’s eyes, I see someone who understands that, in a culture that’s seemingly fueled on male homophobic hysteria, choosing to be female and openly expressing one’s femininity is not a sign of frivolousness, weakness, or passivity, it is a fucking badge of courage. Everybody loves to say that drag queens are ‘fabulous,’ but nobody seems to get the fact that trans women are fucking badass!”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I agree completely with Julia on this issue, and if one were to gender-flip it (for lack of a better term), it applies pretty equally well to trans men as well. They know and understand what it truly means to be male in ways that most cis men can’t comprehend. This is why I love my trans brothers and sisters, though I do sometimes get depressed when it seems that other trans folk are my only romantic options due to so many people being transphobic or trans misogynistic, or because of people who fetishize my body and ignore me as a person. I’m not quite at the point yet that she discusses, I’m still growing to that point, but I think most of us could say the same. Ask anyone who knows me well, and they will tell you that I have grown a lot towards this in the past couple of months, and this is what we become over time thanks to our transition. It’s not just the physical, it’s the mental, emotional, and social as well. This is the light at the end of the tunnel, becoming an amazing woman or man, becoming our true selves.
Today, I encourage all of you, my readers, to step back and step up: take a step back to reevaluate where you are in your lives, and find something challenging to you, that gets in the way of your progress to becoming an even more amazing person, and step up to the challenge. For many of us, it may be issues tied to our transition (I still struggle with self-esteem issues when treated as a man despite living full time as a woman and correcting people that I’m female). For others, it may be something else, such as a desire to lose weight (working on that myself too), or quit smoking, or go back to school.
We become these beautiful, amazing people because of our struggles. Have you got something you’re struggling through to improve yourself?