So, I was asked a few different questions about my experience as a Trans Woman. I am going to try to answer one (or more, but let’s be honest, I am verbose, so…) of them every day until I am through them.
The first one is: Do you feel like you were socialized differently from boys? Differently for girls?
Prefacing this with, this is only my experience, I can’t speak for all trans women, as their experiences definitely don’t all align with mine, and they have their own stories and experiences.
Note: When I say that I was told or taught something about what being a boy/man was, it was not necessarily someone telling me that, it could have been movies, tv, books, watching others, etc.
One of the talking points that is used about trans people is that they were “Socialized AGAB.” That is true, in part, but there is so much more to that narrative.
What it leaves out is what was going on in my head in all of my interactions with both cisgender males and cisgender females. I was expected to have male friends, because I was told I was male, I didn’t know any different, and couldn’t put into words how I felt for so long. I wasn’t included in “girls’ activities,” and was given “boys’ toys.”
I didn’t have the words for what I was feeling, and told myself for decades that “Everyone must think and feel like this.” I didn’t know how wrong that was.
I was expected to be stronger, faster, more competitive, more aggressive, etc. than my sisters. I was excluded from their activities and time with my parents, and the time I had with them was different than my sisters. I was actively shut out from play time with dolls, etc. because it wasn’t for me.
The first time I felt gender euphoria, I was about 4 years old. I played dressup with my sisters, and I picked a dress and a floppy hat. I was ecstatic! I had no idea what I was feeling at the time, but, looking back, it was the first time that I felt comfortable and at home in my own body.
That should have been a beautiful experience, but instead, I was made fun of by my sisters. I don’t think they knew what they were doing, or the hurt that caused, but it told me immediately that what I felt was wrong and shameful. To my recollection, I never picked the dresses again.
I was told I had to be friends with boys, so I was. I was told I should be good at sports, so I worked to do so, even though I was playing with boys who were more aggressive, competitive, etc. than I was naturally. Rather than be left behind and looked at as being “girly, or weak,” I became as aggressive and competitive as I possibly could. I got angry when I messed up, I took up “masculine,” hobbies. For example, I taught myself how to throw axes when I was about 15.
If I was going to be treated like a boy, even though I didn’t feel comfortable with that and couldn’t express how I felt, I was going to be the best boy I could be. That may be why my family and oldest friends are so confused about me being a trans woman. I played the part of an average boy and man for as long as I could…and it almost broke me.
Spending time with Men always led me to thinking things like:
– Why are they talking about women like that?
– Should I tell their Partner/Spouse?
– No, don’t do that, then they will all hate you and not trust you.
– This must be what they are all thinking, and they just say these things to fit in.
– But if they all think like this, then why are they saying these things?
– MUST CHANGE STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS! DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT…NOW!
– ABORT! ABORT! ABORT!
I was always having thoughts like that, and having to rationalize them away, to prevent looking at my gender.
I couldn’t have the types of pjysical relationships with girls and women that they could have with one another. Not in a sexual way, but sleep overs, pecks on the cheek, platonic cuddling, sitting on each other’s laps, telling each other how much they loved each other in a truly heartfelt and intimate manner, and so many other things. This tainted my ability to have those truly special relationships that girls and women have with each other.
I was taught that boys should chase after girls, and that we could be friends, but that there was always the ulterior motive of a romantic encounter, and if that didn’t happen, you were “friend zoned.” This put an unhealthy spin on every relationship that I had with girls and women that I was not related to for my entire life. I would have a beautiful friendship with a cisgender woman, and instead of being able to appreciate it and nurture it, I would ruin it by telling them that I had feelings for them. I didn’t know the difference between sisterly love and lust/romantic love. When they didn’t feel the same way (turns out I didn’t, either) it inevitably broke the bond in an almost irreparable way. I lost so many beautiful friendships with girls and women because I couldn’t differentiate between longing and sisterly love.
In fact, the situation that made me realize all of this was not that long ago. My best friend (Let’s call her K) and I have that kind of intimate friendship that women can have with each other, and because of the lessons that I have been taught and had been reinforced my entire life, I couldn’t recognize it for what it is. I ended up telling her how I thought that I felt, namely, that I was in love with her in a romantic way. She listened and then told me that she didn’t feel the same way…exactly like so many other girls and women before (rough count, probably around 40 or 50 throughout my life)…but unlike the others, we didn’t let it drive us apart.
The moment I realized that I was wrong, and had been wrong in so many other situations was when she met an amazing man that is a perfect match for her. I WAS ECSTATIC FOR HER! Immediately, unequivocally, and completely.
I wasn’t jealous, angry at this guy, figuting out ways to manipulate things that he did or said to “prove,” to her that he was wrong for her, etc. This was completely different than all of these other times, and I had a revelation. I didn’t love her…not in the way that I thought, at least.
Yes, I love her in a deep, intimate, and real way, but not romantically, not even a little. I love her the way that women do with their soul sisters.
So, in conclusion, yes, I was socialized as a boy/man, and differently with girls, but it didn’t matter, because I wasn’t a boy hanging out with boys and a boy hanging out with girls, I was a girl the whole time…even though I couldn’t accept it, understand it, or do anything about it for a very long time.
-Justice Faye Dazzle