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.