Transfeminine People Don’t Owe You Traditional Femininity
Once, a man at the corner store asked me, “Why are you a man wearing a skirt?” Another time someone yelled “Give your mom back her dress” at me. Besides the street harassment, there are the micro-aggressions, which can sting even more. A former boss of mine would stare at my unshaven legs like they were sacrilegious. A former lovers’ fingers flinched away when they reached the patch of hair between my tits. Strangers greet me as “sir” more times than not.
Misogyny demands that women make themselves soft, smooth, docile, and “pretty.” Cisnormativity demands trans people perform within the gender binary in order to pass. Combine the two and you get transmisogyny, the bitter cocktail of oppression transfeminine people are forced to drink. The expectation that we perform femininity to prove our gender is a side-effect of the brew.
But, we don’t all look alike. Each transfeminine person has their own unique spin on their presentation and gender. I know high femmes and stone butches, tomboys and non-binary folks who only wear makeup to the club. I know trans women with short hair and long hair, bearded or clean-shaven, basses and sopranos. Each of their genders and expressions is a singularity, and each of these is equally valid.
No matter how I act or look, all that it “proves” is my sense of myself. It doesn’t matter that I sound like a stoner baritone or that I rarely shave my legs. I know I am a non-binary trans woman. It’s my truth. It shouldn’t be questioned.
But as a non-binary, non-passing trans person I’m constantly under scrutiny, always having my realness interrogated. I’m seen as a spectacle and a threat: fake, deluded, crazy. There are people on the sidelines just waiting to hurl abuse at me because I defy the social construct of normativity. It’s terrifying. No one deserves to be held in this state of terror.
I should be accepted on my own terms. My gender is a beautiful, deep and real part of myself. I should be able to express it in whatever way I want, and I should not be hurt for it.