This turned out to be the subject of a discussion with one of my mates the other day. He stated that many of the women he knows have negative responses to me being trans and «changing sex». He found this strange, because it’s common to assume that women in general are more relaxed towards gays and lesbians. So you would think that they would feel the same way about trans-issues. But according to him they don’t.
Instead they react with fear and hostility. (I must mention that the women he referred to all have higher education and often don’t come forward as traditional women, some are rather masculine.)
We tried to analyze this reaction to try to figure out what causes it. We have previously talked about the fact that women discovering their partner to be trans*, tend to end the relationship more often than men in the same situation do. We then concluded that most women base their relationships on trust and honesty. A partner coming out as trans would then signify an emotional betrayal, that is very hard for a woman.
My friend said that this would be the case also when there’s no intimate relationship involved. I disagreed. I think the reasons lie deeper and has to do with how women identify themselves.
First of all, women are used to being identified by their sex much more often than guys. The women we know are more likely to have had issues with that growing up. My guess is that they’ve all been through a process of accepting their femaleness and fight for their right to be the way they are and still be women. They identify as feminists. I’ve been through that myself, but without the happy ending.
For most women, and especially the ones we know, sex and gender are at the core of a person’s identity and personality. I think that’s why women partners of transpeople take it harder than the men.
Second, the idea that one can change one’s sex reviels the insecurities of these women. My guess is that «What if I too…» is one of the first thoughts that goes through their minds. And then they feel they have to distance themselves from it. That someone transition from female to male becomes a threat to their own identity.
At the same time most men don’t seem tho have these issues. Of course, they don’t identify with their sex at the same level and do not feel compelled to do it. I must say that feminism and women’s liberation might have contributed to women identifying so deeply with their sex with the focus on sisterhood. I really don’t see how having a female body and identifying as a woman should mean that you have much in common with half the world’s population and ought to treat them as sisters. But that might be part of my trans-issues.
Anyway; men don’t identify with other men the same way. In this context it comes out as trans-positive. They don’t feel treatened, even if the case is a male to female transition. In addition, men are more likely to accept what they see instead of what they feel. In other contexts that can be a problem, but in this one it leads to accepting transpeople, at least when we pass or express gender in a way they can recognize.
I think that men often are being portrayed unnecessarily negative by some feminists. There are so many nice men out there, gay and straight, and I think they deserve more credit.
When I think about it, the women’s day is maybe not the best time to post this reflection. I do it anyway.
I couldn’t agree more! I have made the same experience and it was very hard to take, esp as my mother is a feminist and said some pretty harsh things.