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Back You are here: Home Sex, Gender & Sexuality Diversity - [Archived] ISGD Women are made, not born

Women are made, not born

When some people transition, they believe they fail to realize just how much of femininity is internal, writes Monica Roberts.

12 September 2010

When I began my transition in 1994, one of the things I was well aware of was the famous quote by French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir on womanhood.

Women are made, not born.

I recently had an interesting discussion on my Facebook page about this very subject which ironically started in response to this comment.

Some ignorant elements of the Black community really need to chill with the transphobia and 'that's a man' shade aimed at Black women.

It was in response to the post I wrote slamming the transphobes at Bossip about the 50 gallon drums of Hateraid Fierce they were drinking over Wendy Williams.

One of the things I realized pretty quickly was that French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir wasn't kidding when she said 'A woman is made, not born.'

When some people transition, I believe they fail to realize just how much of femininity is internal.

Anybody with the money, time and a good plastic surgeon can buy a slamming female body. But if you still carry around those masculine attitudes and behaviors, you'll get 'sirred' in a minute no matter how much money you spent on your feminization surgery or the neocoochie between your legs.

One thing many cis people fail to realize is that I and many trans women take their transitions seriously. We wish to be complements to womanhood, not detriments to it as our detractors try to slander us with.

And let's face it, it you want to be good at something, you observe and talk to the people who live those roles in everyday life.

Cis women are born into their bodies, get to develop in them from birth, get the chance to get comfortable in your skin, get to ponder what type of woman you wish to project to the world, make mistakes along the way while being encouraged and molded by their families and society into their feminine gender roles.

Trans women for the most part are fought every step of the way by society and our families in addition to getting shame and guilt piled on us for daring to morph into the bodies that match our gender programming and the types of women we wish to project to the world.

And that's the situation before we even get to grapple with the sexism, being a moving sexual target, and all the other societal baggage positive and negative of walking around on this planet in a female body.

It's enjoyable when I get to have those kinds of thoughtful interactions with cis women about femininity and what it means to them.

I'd like to have those conversations more often.

Monica Roberts is a writer, award-winning activist, lecturer, speaker, native Houstonian and Texan who transitioned in 1994 and absolutely loves her semi-boring life now. Visit her blog Transgriot where this piece first appeared.

Comments   

0 #4 Greg 2011-05-20 12:20
I get it... a true mature adult woman may in fact be made and not born. It is semantics and a play on words but I get the point. However all human beings are born and you are either born male or female. (Except if the very rare cases of hermaphrodites)

It does seem that the black community does have strong opinions on this subject. I would be very interested to see how mixed race couples actually feel about it. There honest independent opinions. Especially in the case of black women dating white men.
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0 #3 aidy griffin 2010-09-13 23:10
such excellent suggestions! Too often i have seen people begin their transition and instantly assume the status of experts on all things masculine/femin ine and everything in between. It's good to remember that the view from inside out is very different to the view from outside in.

By all means have goals and i hope you achieve them! But please keep an open, enquiring mind and be prepared to revise your views and strategies in the light of new experiences and learning. My experience is that no gender is fixed or stationary - it is constantly changing updating revising mutating. It is not only what you may feel inside, or your body type, or your gender performance. It is the primary relationship between us and the rest of world we inhabit.

One of the things i like most about that relationship is it's dynamism. I feel that's a good word and concept to keep in mind
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0 #2 tamara 2010-09-13 21:33
Interesting conversation. I find that I can be any woman that I choose to be. Simple. I do not need anybody's permission or approval
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0 #1 Ida 2010-09-13 10:47
WTF! There are lots of women, both cis and trans, with socially defined "masculine attitudes and behaviors." These women are no less women because they don't meet some ridiculous standard of femininity.

As women, trans or cis, I think it is a huge mistake for us to internalize stereotypes of idealized cis womanhood. People misgender gender nonconforming women, cis and trans, not because of a failure on the part of the woman to internalize imposed norms of femininity, but because of sexist beliefs from those doing the misgendering about what a "real woman" is supposed to be like.

This is the same policing of gender that prevents so many of my friends and many other trans women from accessing trans-related health care, because some gatekeeper at some backwards gender clinic doesn't think she's feminine enough, or attractive enough, or whatever. I have heard way too many times that of gatekeepers saying that a woman seeking access to trans health care like hormones and surgery don't take her transition seriously because she doesn't fit that gatekeepers stereotype of a woman—as if all women are the same.

This effects all women, whether cis or trans. I have cis women in my life who get harassed when they use the bathroom simply because they have short hair. Who gets to say what is the appropriate gender expression for any woman? Are butches not women enough, what about tomboys, how about women in blue collar or even executive jobs? Obviously this is nothing new, just as it is obviously sexist as can be.

I didn't transition to fit into some stereotyped "feminine gender role," I transitioned because of the incongruence between the sex of my body and the sex of my brain. What gender role(s) or lack thereof I choose to express myself has no power over on whether I can identify as a woman. I recognize and respect the full diversity of womanhood, including gender nonconforming women.

The policing of gender and it's related gatekeeping of health care is exactly the sexist societal baggage we need to move away from. Suggesting that trans women ought to meet some arbitrary standard of femininity in order to be taken seriously is the most transphobic thing I've read all day. We need to get past this oppressive pass/fail garbage that has been imposed on trans women, and effects all women.
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