The Masculinity of Transition

If there’s one thing I’ve come to understand about MtF transgender people since being married to one, it’s how very masculine the idea of transitioning from male to female is.

To decide that you can have anything you want, and to just take it, even if it’s very the identity of a set of people with whom you cannot, by definition, identify with, is a very masculine idea. It’s an idea that male privilege absolutely primes one for. Colonization, capitalism, rape, pillage. To want and to get, because you can, because you aren’t even aware of the possibility that you can’t. To shove aside the oppressed in your quest for getting. And to get away with that, as you always have, because of your privilege.

To wake up one day, more than a decade into marriage, deciding that you need something new and that nothing can or should stop you, is a very masculine idea. To hell with your wife, your family, your memories. To indulge this midlife crisis as men always have, whether it’s with a teenage mistress, a red corvette, or lipstick and a pair of heels, and let it destroy your family.

To decide to wear a bra, when you aren’t on hormones and don’t have breasts, is a very masculine idea. As if women wear bras to make us feel like women, and not because we have breasts that gravity is taking its toll on, because men will shame us if we have saggy grandma boobs when we’re 40. As if women enjoy or require a strip of pink lace across our chests. As if we spend any significant time thinking about our boobs, admiring them, adorning them for our own gaze. Only men have this interest in bras.

To believe in “gender identity” at all is a very masculine idea. Women don’t go around “feeling like women” – we feel like people, and that’s all the more poignant as we navigate a world where we are treated like children.

To desire, to demand, to expect accolades for being a woman is a very masculine idea. To endlessly troll social media to find it. Woman know that being a woman entails the opposite: degradation, dismissal. Only men seek and find people willing to applaud them for existing.

To refuse to listen to or empathize with women (about a topic on which they are the sole experts, no less) is a very masculine behavior. Men have a long tradition of dismissing women for being old or ugly or smelly or hairy. We hear it from regular guys. We hear it from men’s rights activists. We hear it from men who “feel like” women.

To find a group of middle aged, well-off white guys (even if they are wearing wigs), and to categorically believe everything they say, is a very masculine idea. After all, men are superior; they are correct. Especially the loudest ones. Even when it’s textbook Orwellian doublespeak: Men are women. The penis is a female organ . Sometimes one or both of a lesbian couple has a penis. A fertile male is an infertile female. Even when it’s unspeakably troubling: Cutting off your genitals is sometimes a great idea. Children who are questioning their gender should receive treatments that irreversibly damage their future fertility and sex lives. A grown man should be allowed to lounge naked in a locker room near girls as young as six. Vaginas are off-putting.

To threaten suicide if you don’t get your way is a very masculine idea. Ask any woman who has experienced the aftermath of leaving an insecure man, fending off a stalker or seeking a restraining order. Threatening suicide is quite simply a classic male manipulation strategy.

To colonize spaces where you aren’t welcome is a very masculine idea. Women as a rule don’t want to do this. Women can’t do this.

To “choose” your gender – as if gender weren’t a set of oppressive obligations and proscriptions invented by men to keep women physically, emotionally and financially handicapped, is a very masculine idea. As if people could stop their oppression by identifying out of it. As if women could avoid being interrupted, belittled, objectified, trafficked and raped by rejecting their assigned role.

“In a world where millions of people, especially ‘cis-gendered’ women, are not free to choose who they marry, what they eat or whether or not their genitals are cut off and sewn up with barbed wire when they are still babies,” says Julie Burchill, “choosing your gender” is uniquely for the privileged.


56 thoughts on “The Masculinity of Transition

  1. ‘To colonize spaces where you aren’t welcome is a very masculine idea. Women don’t want to do this. Women can’t do this.’ White feminism, everybody. White women are pure creatures blessed upon this earth who are incapable of colonizing because its a ‘male trait’ (??)


    • Fair enough, but I am talking about male and female behavior in terms of gendered spaces, not white and minority behavior, which is a different axis. A similar claim would be that black people “don’t want to” and “can’t” infiltrate the KKK.

      When I say “women can’t do this,” I mean that women don’t get away with doing this. All-male clubs have existed for centuries and women barging in and arguing that we belong there because we feel like men just wouldn’t fly. As a matter of fact, it has happened from time to time, and not worked.

      When I say “women don’t want to do this,” I’m talking about our female socialization, which typically makes us more unwilling to argue our way into spaces, and the fact that we’ll be greater punished for doing so.

      And for what it’s worth, yes, I think it could be argued that colonization is a fairly (but not exclusively) male trait.

      Liked by 17 people

      • If women want to get into male spaces, we HAVE TO LOOK LIKE MEN. This is important. There were a few brave women in history who managed to disguise as men and get away with sneaking into male spaces, but they did so at enormous risk. And mostly, it’s not worth it, because men make damn sure that every position of power is only held by males. (Like, the pope? They used to check for testicles)

        Males, on the other hand, not only sneak into women’s spaces disguised as women (sometimes with very bad disguises), no, they demand access. And they get it. That’s privilege.

        Liked by 12 people

      • Well put and personally I wouldn’t want to feel like a man unless I wanted to feel the shame of history upon my broad shoulders.

        Liked by 2 people

    • White imperialism was built on the oppression of white women. Only a misogynist would think that all those white people came out of nowhere, or that white women consented to being systematically raped, owned by white men, and burned at the stake as witches for knowledge of how to perform abortions. Native cultures called white women “The women who died” because white men would use white women as breeders until they literally died. To assume that white women consent and enjoy oppression and sexual subjugation is antifeminism at it’s core.

      For people to be so concerned about white imperialism, they don’t seem at all interested in how it actually happened, or how white women’s oppression was a facilitating factor in making white imperialism happen. Race itself is a white male construct that requires white women’s sexual subordination to exist, and requires white women to sexually submit as breeders so white men can genetically select the traits (in this case, skin color) they deem worthy of being passed on. The Quiverfull cults exist because they think white women should submit to being breeders to outpopulate other groups:

      If you really wanted to end white imperialism, you wouldn’t use “white feminism” as a dog whistle to dismiss male violence and male entitlement.

      Liked by 23 people

      • It is an illuminating article which has given me much useful information. But I want to comment on “No More Paper Towels” Post – you say that white women’s oppression was built on white imperialism, then you say that people seem not interested in how it actually happened. Actually I am very interested in how it all happened. Women are 50% of the population, the other half (men) have created the mysoginistic cultures that exist today, based mostly on man-made religion. How did women allow this to happen? Somewhere during the formulation of “culture” women must have agreed to it. Why??? How can any woman “believe” in a man-made god and that women must be subordinate to men? I am not blaming the victim, but I can’t blame men either because women have let it happen, my question is how/why.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Would like to reply to Transwidow re her comment that women didn’t agree to be dominated. Researchers believe that during the cave-dweller/stone age, while men did go out hunting and bring back meat, it would have been sporadic and that it was the “gatherer” activity of the women that in practice kept the tribe alive. And of course women were also the producers of human life. So women’s role would have been extremely important in the tribal “culture”. But then somewhere along the line patriarchal societies evolved. Some believe the transition occurred when agriculture and land ownership developed. (Reading at present ‘The Creation of Patriarchy’ by Gerda Lerner). But women are 50% of the population, so what were women doing, or not doing, when men started to take over and create the “culture” where women are less important? Even today we still have “cultures” (I hate that word!) where boys are valued more that girls, and women go along with that. Women cover their hair with hijabs (Muslim) and wigs (Jewish) etc because the other half of the population tells them to even though they are symbols of subjugation and oppression – if only women were united.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hah – “If only women were united” – you say this after saying that white women “asked for it” with regards to white men’s oppression, rape, domestic slavery, and reproductive subjugation. Obviously you don’t want women united if you think white women should be blamed for the actions of white men. Your justifications for male violence are so common they are trite and just insult to injury when you come here and try to defend white men’s oppression of white women, and while you yourself are treated white women like the property of white men. If you don’t get it by now that male violence is the cause of oppression, then you never will.

        Liked by 6 people

      • I hate when I read feminist sites and it is all “white women” this and “white feminism” that, as if certain women are bad simply for being white. Yes, it’s absolutely appropriate to talk about how black and other voices weren’t represented in early feminism, but fuck this “white women are the oppressor” bullshit. Yes, individual white women can oppress people, but using the adjective “white” as a blanket pejorative really isn’t productive.

        A person I know was raped by a gang of angry men simply for being white and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and will forever suffer complex PTSD for it. She wasn’t an activist, she was just a normal lady going about her errands. She was literally just sitting in her car and the men came up and carjacked her and dumped her in a field hours later. The perpetrators said they were just out to punish a white woman. I blame only the rapists and the bad politics, not black people HOWEVER, as a woman who wants to be a part of feminism, I cringe when I read these sneering slights at “white women”. Did my friend “deserve it” for being white? How hard it is for me to read, it must cut her to the bone when she tries to find solace in feminism about being raped and have her skin color rubbed in her face and called “the bad one” instead.

        Actual female oppression like rape doesn’t always play out in the neat, politically expedient way academic feminists and internet activists want it too. Some people’s rapes aren’t PC (for lack of a better word) so they don’t get sympathy – just thrown in the “white women bad” pile. Well, I care about the non-PC (for lack of a better word) rapes too, and it can be done while still respecting other people and cultures and while not denying systemic race-based oppression either.

        It sucks that people who have experienced race-based violence that isn’t the “right” kind are expected to go sympathize with right-wingers and racist groups because this crap is so politically polarized. There should be a middle ground. Feminists don’t want to acknowledge that black on white crime exists even even it is a hate crime against all women like rape. I blame the rapists and no one else, but it sucks that feminism these days is more likely to have sympathy for the rapists because of current politics while sneering at “white women”. We should be able to illuminate feminism’s former failures to be inclusive without demonizing “white women” as a whole.

        Liked by 11 people

      • “The women who died” I am interested in reading more about that, but I’m having trouble finding information,may I ask where found that?. Your comment has me reading about the cultural roles of women in Native American and Euro-American society,

        Liked by 1 person

      • Re: Quiverfull – men with their quivers full can fantasize all they like about women being breeders, but there are obviously women who have agreed to be with these men and do what the men tell them. Same as there are women who “believe” in man-made religion and and go along with their own subjugation. In exasperation I keep repeating – women are 50% of the human population, i.e. not a minority!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Just came across a quote which may answer the question as to why women often go along with their subjugation, the quote was in relation to why many women still take the man’s surname on marriage – “the condition of being female in this world must often approach an approximation of Stockholm syndrome”.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hi NoMorePaperTowels —

        I have been searching for your reference to “the women who died” online, but mostly am coming up with modern murder reports. Do you remember where you read that?



      • A dog whistle emoji? How trite and political. I suppose you are bothered that people talked about real things that happen in the real world to white women so you have to post a little passive-aggressive meme implying that the posters are racist. Shove your dog whistle emoji up your ass.

        What is the matter? You can’t even be bothered to use words to insult people? I used to be a devoted dem, but I just won’t bother vote at all anymore because of immature shit like this. You are just pushing people away from your own party by attacking people who are on your side for shallow political points. More and more the left is becoming intolerant of reality and all they are doing is losing voters. I wouldn’t vote R for any reason, but instead of voting for the party that doesn’t allow people to talk about reality anymore, I just won’t vote this year or ever again.

        Pointing out that black on white crime (particularly rape) happens isn’t a fucking racist dog whistle except to immature-acting internet political bullies like you. Go tell criminologists that if they ever claim to have a non-white perp they are just dog whistling for racists. Pathetic.


      • I don’t know if Viv will see this,

        but you’re stupid asshole. It’s over four months since I made that friggin comment I don’t even know what it was about anymore. But based on the dates it was probably a response to No More Paper Towels who actually said “dog whistle”. And was saying the same sort of thing you were. That “white feminism” is a dog whistle for misogynists. Stop being so fucking selfabsorbed. And learn to read the dates on things.


    • White feminism? Fuck you. Go to the east where I lived and tell me all about how much women have colonized men there. Go in European history and find the ONLY men on this planet who held a generational genocide on women. No black, brown, red or yellow men ever did shit so nasty to their own women: leaving some towns with as little as two females, butchering the rest.

      So you can stop trying to turn women against each other with using race as an issue. As a former muslimah from the east I have WAY more in common with my fellow women, no matter their color, then I do some mra asshole who tries to destroy conversations about feminism by appealing to race issues. All women, no matter their race, face sexism.

      Liked by 10 people

    • It is, isn’t it? I don’t know why you put the “white” there, but “women are blessed creatures on this Earth”, absolutely yes!
      Women are not colonizers or oppressors. Men are.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on WolfWomanoftheNorth and commented:
    “To “choose” your gender – as if gender weren’t a set of oppressive obligations and proscriptions invented by men to keep women physically, emotionally and financially handicapped, is a very masculine idea.”

    I love this post so much, thank you for pointing out how the basics of transgender ideology are masculine ideas. This is why I try to avoid describing male trans as ‘feminine’ or ‘gender non-conforming’. The truth is they’re really just like any other man socialized in a patriarchal culture.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Bookmarked for future reference. Beautifully put. Thanks TW. .. and yes.. i noticed the very same thing with my ex.. it was an unavoidable conclusion to come to… in fact i remember pointing out this very same notion to him at the time, and how furious he was about it…

    Liked by 5 people

  4. This is great writing and sums it up nicely! If anyone tries to get me to explain my position on transmania, I think I’ll just hand them a copy of this article. If they don’t get it, then tough. Thank you for writing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I am also a transwidow, but my ex-wife now considers herself a man. She craved that male power you talk so eloquently about. She saw this as the way to erase all the powerlessness and pain she experienced at the hands of men when she was a child. She learned to perform this thing called masculinity with all of the demands and assumptions and coercive tactics particular to men. When I didn’t want to continue the relationship she instituted punishment and went on attack in classic textbook transactivist style, with the help of her new friends. It is one thing to see this in men. It is a whole other thing when you see it in your wife.

    Liked by 4 people

    • we have seen a pubic break up of a well known lesbian couple this way last year… her partner has publicly come out as FtT and i can only hope the partner left behind is getting the support she needs, because it IS traumatic to lose someone you love this way. No doubt about it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Transwidow! I am hoping to contact you about a anthology I’m putting together, and your story would be perfect for it. I don’t want to write much more about it, but would love to give you more information via email. Please contact me at my email address.
    Many thanks for your courage and great writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So basically you’re saying transgenderism doesn’t exist or if it does, it’s a sickness? You know, like they used to say about homosexuality ?

    I’m sorry. That’s what I’m getting from this. And I think it’s sad. I consider myself a feminist and I have a feeling many of you will tell me I’m not now. But I just don’t understand. You seem so angry. I don’t understand why there is transgender hate.


    • Homosexuality was considered a sickness because gay people don’t conform to the gender stereotypes society demands that people adhere too. To equate the two is ridiculous, especially when you consider that these men are sexually harassing lesbians (see the “cotton ceiling”), demanding that vaginas be referred to as “holes”, and the threats of violence that are directed at women who dare question them (“Die Cis Scum” seems to be a popular slogan).

      Trans”gender” is the equivalent of a white man painting his face black and demanding that everyone refer to him as African-American, without a thought of the very real persecution that African-American men go through every day in society. Women are getting angry (whoops! aren’t we all supposed to be kind?) because of the sheer arrogance, selfishness, and entitlement that these men exhibit. We are bullied (why do you hate? why aren’t you nice?), no-platformed, and threatened with rape and death when we speak up. And these actions are all wrapped up in a pretty pink bow under the label “feminism.”

      You know what I really find sad? The demand that women sit down, shut up, and be nice to these men. What’s sad is that the little money designated for women’s health clinics is now being spent on catering to these men. What’s sad is that children who are not gender conforming are now being medically forced to take drugs and undergo procedures that have far-reaching implications to their future. What’s sad is the erasure of gay people (particularly of lesbians). Trans”gender” is the new conversion therapy for gay people. And the so-called “liberals” and “progressives” are patting themselves on the back congratulating themselves on how “open-minded” and “accepting” they are.

      Well, that was quite a rant. Thanks for providing a space for people to speak out. Great blog, by the way!

      Liked by 4 people

  8. Thank you for your post, I think your thoughts are interesting, and I respect your experience, I really feel for anyone who has the experience that you did of your partner coming out – I can’t imagine how it felt. I would just like to suggest though that you may be generalising about something that is extremely personal, and in doing that run into a few problems. Firstly Transgender is not just about Men Transitioning to Women, nearly as many people go the other way also, in fact I have two neighbors who have transitioned from Female to Male, and of the Transgender people I know who have transitioned it is probably about half Female to Male. They often go through exactly the same trials as MtF transgender people with the key difference that they don’t get quite the same attitude either from genetic men, or extremist feminists that MtF transgender people get from some of each. Secondly I have never heard anyone ‘threaten suicide if they don’t get their way’, though that might happen, often you have to dig very deep to find that someone has considered it, or tried it – it isn’t something that most people will volunteer. Psychologists and activists will talk about it because it is an important consideration when defining the need for support services, and the nature needed. Thirdly not all trans people transition, not all of them get married, some do that as a form of denial, or as a way to try to convince people they are straight. This is by no means unique to Transgender people, I have known both Gay and Lesbian people who do the same thing. As a transgender person myself, who has not transitioned full time, and has never married, does not have children to worry about, I still agonize over the impact on my family (Siblings & Mother), but I also agonize over myself and my feelings, and the result is that I put a lot of energy into managing those competing feelings.


  9. Based on your domain name. I am going to take a stab in the dark and say you are angry because your life partner decided to have surgery to change they appearance of their genitalia from one gender to other. This a very difficult decision, and the thought process, if they are any thing like most transgender people, began when they were VERY young about the time they discovered that there are boys and girls. It was YOUR choice to leave YOUR life partner when they decided to change their appearance. So that they could feel more comfortable with who they felt they were on the inside. Now you may be thinking to yourself, that your weren’t enough for them. The fact of the matter is that no one is enough for them.

    GET OVER YOURSELF AND MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE, because it’s obvious that your didn’t mean it when you said “from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”


    • There’s really no need to make these incorrect assumptions, as the info’s all here (my ex didn’t have surgery, for example, nor did he “know” from childhood). But since you’d like to feel better about your own transition, you’d rather do your little uniformed, angry drive-by.

      I meant my marriage vows; it was my ex who left the marriage in mind, body and spirit. He was just hoping I’d hang around and give him money anyway since getting manicures made him too exhausted to work for a living. The only thing that changed when I signed the divorce paper was that he had to start financing his own lifestyle instead of siphoning his livelihood off of me.

      As for “get over it,” congratulations on not having any idea what love is. That’ll save you some heartache in the future.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. I relate. Males are awful. But, if you are born female and have no interest in being penetrated, having babies, having tits, hips, or ass, looking girly, being stereotyped as a “butch” when you are neither tough nor extroverted, and miss your gender-neutral childhood body ( and female friends you loved who didn’t get sucked in to being porn-objects for boys and turning on you for refusing), there really is no other option nowadays than transition. I believe in radical feminism but that did not change how I felt about my body. You can call it “mutilation” but I never wanted to have childbearing, penetrable parts. The body parts I had never brought me pleasure, and got in the way of my athletic lifestyle, where I don’t want floppy tits and hips and thighs getting in the way of my lean straight up and down musculature and desired upper body strength and broad shoulderd. There is no “cancer scare” on testosterone when the internal baby having organs and boobs are removed, and as I said, I (like many masculine females attracted to femmes, both butch lesbians and trans men) orgasm through my external parts and find PAINetration appalling. I have been shorter than even ninety nine percent of females my whole life and, when combined with my “masculine” presentation and refusal to make nice with men, actually endangered my safety prior to transition by merely walking down the street and hearing “smile shorty!!! What, no smile, you fucking dyke dwarf! !!”

    let’s all align against dick-sticking rapists. I will never understand females who voluntarily have penis inside them and push out babies, or funfems who pretend to love being brutalized by males, but they aren’t my enemy. But many trans men think radfems are the enemy and vice versa…just because we’ve come to different conclusions about possessing a female body, even though we agree on the most important point: that the be-penised male body is at fault for all the rapes, murders, and misery of people born without an appendage that experiences the height of pleasure by its invasive pronging, irregardless of the recipient’s cries of pain, or frozen silence.


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