I agree there are many issues extremely exclusive to women who were born female, and I would never take that away from them. I acknowledge there are men who transition to female as a fetish, and there are those like myself, born male but never treated as such. I was never treated as a boy growing up. I was viewed as an inconvenience, and everything from the way I talked to the walk I held a book was scrutinized and made fun of. I remember as a young adult walking into a room full of overweight, middle aged men who were friends of my girlfriend’s father, and they all started making fun of me because I had gained a little weight over the holidays. I have been bullied, marginalized, passed over for promotion, had my services to help with resume writing or essay writing (English is my major, and I have taught short seminars on resume writing) denied. My family has consistently viewed me as ‘other’ since I was born. If a female cousin managed to pull her grades up far enough to graduate, there was a celebration. There was no acknowledgement at all when I graduated with my Masters’. I’ve been molested by a family member, raped, slammed into lockers, etc.
While I was feminine looking, I never ‘identified’ as female until later in life, and realized much of my struggle stemmed from Gender Identity Disorder. At the time all this was happening, however, I attributed it to a hearing loss; I wore hearing aids, and thus thought this was the reason I was treated differently. I am not complaining about my experiences, nor am I bragging. Perhaps these experience has helped me sympathize more with what women go through, and this is why I ‘stay in my own lane.’ I am semi-passable for female right now, and experience all the nuances associated with it; in Home Depot, men plow through me, leaving my 5'9", thin frame shaking. I am frequently cut off at the checkout line. Store employees there completely ignore me. When they do acknowledge me, they talk to me as if I have the brain capacity of a five or six year old.
I have curves now, the coveted female curves that men love, and my male friend who has watched me transition has said, ‘from the back, I would be hard pressed to say there’s anything male about you. From the front, you have smaller breasts, but they’ll probably get bigger, and you have a very androgynous face.” I am sure that I will begin to experience the catcalls and stalking of men who are convinced I have all the right parts, and then I will experience what I have not felt since my teenage years in high school: fear.
I am not unmindful there are those who who are loud and unashamed of their male histories, and barge in on female spaces like a bull in a china shop. There are many trans women I know who started off like that, but as they grew deeper into their transition they experienced first hand the struggles those who were born female experience, and it is very humbling.
Just yesterday, I went to 5 Guys for a burger and a milkshake. I think the young teen, complete with bulging muscles, saw me as trans because he emphasized ‘SIR’ as often as he could. It took forever to get my burger, and the teen had ‘forgotten’ to make my milkshake. I could be overthinking it, but I could hear him and his friends whispering behind me as I munched. Every so often I would look over and they wouldn’t even turn away from staring at me.
Women matter. Women’s safety matters. If we who are trans truly care about women, we will understand this and work together to create safer places. For every one trans woman who ruins it for the rest of us, I assure you there are at least ten who hear your words loud and clear and will do what it takes to create safer places for you.