The question is not whether trans women are “real,” but what is the real motivation behind defining some women as “real?”

Emma…….has anyone ever told you that you overrationalize matters? :-)

If I’m a geneticist or a statistian, I need to define who is a woman or not (as defined by XX/XY) because if I don’t, whatever research I’m doing could end up being wrong. From a social standpoint, the motivation comes down to a simple matter of treating people how they want to be treated. And gender defines a LOT of that for us.

The desire to be open minded simply for the sake of being open minded, not because you have come up against a situation that requires it, seems fairly toxic.

Well, being open minded for the sake of being open minded is actually very close minded, if you think about it. It’s an interesting paradox. :-)

And, to get real with you, I try to be a good ally, but I still got trans women on the internet telling me how transmisogynist my writing is, so clearly I still got some shit to work on.

Maybe. Or maybe the problem is with them. They do have very complicated psychologies, after all.

But… I was sort of one of those feminists who wanted to abolish gender! I was into math and science, the sports I liked were fighting sports (wrestling and jiu jitsu) and I had just suffered for a long, long time to do the things I wanted to do as a woman. And, for some chick to be like “omg, all this girly shit IS GREAT — LET’S KEEP DOING GIRLY SHIT” was very threatening to me initially. It triggered an almost instinctual panic: is some of my autonomy going to get lost if I fully embrace the trans movement?

Your activities don’t “abolish gender”. They are secondary to gender, but gender is not prescriptive of anything, really. Your SEX is prescriptive, but not your gender. Hence, no risk of loss of autonomy.

Men also project their sexual desire onto our bodies — both the trans bodies and the cis bodies of women — without consideration for our consent or autonomy.

Well, of course. Humans are a dimorphic species where a substantial amount of our instinctive behavior involves the propagation of the species. Men have thusly been “projecting sexual desire” for all of human history, and will continue to do so until the end of human history. It’s an issue to be managed and sometimes enjoyed. :-)

Often talking to a trans woman just feels like talking to a cis woman. The way they listen and engage with me is very similar to how my cis female friends listen and engage with me.

I would assume that most transwomen would consider that a goal, and would consider that observation of yours very complimentary.

And, this is non-PC because who am I to legitimize someone’s gender?

Well, you’re human. We all legitimize (or not) each other all the time. In many ways.

If a trans woman didn’t feel like a cis woman to me, would she not be a woman? To which I’d say: no, she’d still be a woman. However, honest truth, it would be harder for me to not microaggression against her. I’d have to exert a lot more mental energy getting her pronouns right. And I’m sorry if that hurts, but I’m not going to deny that how I unconsciously read someone’s gender is not always the same as the gender they wish to be read as. The problem of how we unconsciously read gender is one that is constantly overlooked by both trans activists and trans opponents, but also one that comes up a lot when you’re interacting with trans people in the real world.

I’m not sure why that would hurt anyone. Trans people are very conscious of how they are “read” by others, with the goal for most of them to be read as their selected gender, and they are very aware that sometimes they fail in this endeavor. I would further assume that it’s quite disturbing when they fail, and for more reasons than just their feelings; being “read” wrongly can be physically dangerous to them in some situations. So, if you “miss it” and mess up a pronoun, that may be disturbing but at least you are nonthreatening to them.

Often, the question around trans people — especially trans women — is phrased as are they “real.” Is a trans woman “a real woman?” So… what the fuck is a “real” woman anyway? A woman who can give birth? Are infertile women not real women? Is a real woman someone with two x chromosomes? Then, what is someone with 3 x chromosomes? What is someone with xy chromosomes, but testosterone insensitivity, so they develop breasts and a vagina? Because, society sure as hell treats all these people like they’re real women. They are raised as women and socialized as women. Straight men and gay women will be attracted to them, gay men and straight women will not. So… why are trans women not “real?” As far as I can tell, the only common trait that differentiates “real” women from “fake” women is that all the “real” women had their gender imposed upon them by society. They had no autonomy when it came to their gender. All other things — external physical anatomy, hormone levels, chromosomes, appearance — are things that many trans women could share with certain cis women.

My first thought in reading all this is “who cares?” It seems to me that you personally are not very comfortable with ambiguity, and work overtime to resolve it. I’d suggest rather than you attempt to increase your comfort level with ambiguity. You’d lead a happier life. :-)

So. Effectively, in our society, to be a “real” woman, somebody else has to declare you a woman.

Well, biology declares you male, female, and in a limited set of cases, something in between. But, one of the defining characteristics of a clover is its three leaves, even though you occasionally find one with four. The exception doesn’t disprove the rule.

But yes, since most of us don’t walk about with our pants down exposing our biology, how we are “read” makes that declaration on a more mundane, daily level.

We need to stop saying trans women are “real” women, because we need to stop fucking talking about real women. It’s just something that’s going to make a whole bunch of women — trans and cis — feel like shit. Women who get hysterectomies are going to start worrying they’re not “real” women. Women with small tits are going to worry they’re not “real” women. Hell, at many times in my life, I’ve worried that I’m not a “real” woman because I’m too tomboyish. It’s gross, it’s exclusive, and it’s not helping.

Oh, now you’re being silly. Secondary sex characteristics are just that: secondary. They don’t define sexuality. If having small tits makes a woman feel like she is not a “real woman”, she has two options available to her: therapy or surgery. But it’s her dilemma, not anyone else’s.

Basically, a “real woman” is one who serves men, whose existence is to be available for the pleasure of and consumption by men. Defining some women as “real” and other women as “not-real” is a way of shaming “not-real” women into adopting patriarchal behaviors.

This is why we teach our children about peer pressure and how to manage it. That’s all you’re describing. It’s part of life, and it’s not going away, so we have to manage it. (And, also, it works both ways. Sometimes intelligent, academic girls who aspire to families and children feel pressured into STEM degrees and related professions.)

How do we deal with the fact that different people in our society are having different unconscious reactions to other people’s genders?

You don’t. As a sexually dimorphic species, our sub/unconscious “reading” of gender is wired into our instinct to propagate the species. But, why does it matter? Sounds like you're trying to strive for some sort of groupthink. Inadvisable, by my way of thinking.

And, it’s not just trans people who deal with incorrect gender perception. Even though I’m a cis woman, sometimes people call me “he” because they unconsciously respond to me as a man. Then, I’ll tell a friend about it, and they’ll say “I can’t imagine how anyone would ever think you look like a man.” Me neither, but it happens. How do we deal with the fact that different people have conflicting unconscious responses to gender?

See above. You can’t deal with this from the society level, you have to deal with it at the individual level and adapt. If you’re being read incorrectly, take inventory of your look and your body language. Probably a few very minor changes solve the problem.

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Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.

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