I don’t know what it’s like to be a girl.
I mean, that sounds pretty strange considering, you know, who I am.
But let me clarify.
What I mean is that although I may strut through the mall in heels I am potentially having an experience that is different than the one that my wife and sisters may have.
The world interacts with my wife and sisters as femme presenting people and I imagine the world correctly assumes that they are cis gender women.
Any interactions they have with others is potentially influenced by their gender and their cis-ness.
What I mean is that someone may hold the door open for them because it is the chivalrous thing to do, you know, a gentleman holding the door for a lady. Of course, they also will likely experience harassment or wage disparity or discrimination because of their gender as well.
Taylor Swift’s song, “The Man” is a perfect example of how an opinion of someone or their actions can be shaped by their gender.
I would be complex
I would be cool
They’d say I played the ﬁeld before I found someone to commit to
And that would be ok
For me to do
Every conquest I had made would make me more of a boss to you
I’d be a fearless leader
I’d be an alpha type
When everyone believes ya
What’s that like?
I’m so sick of running as fast as I can
Wondering if I’d get there quicker
If I was a man
And I’m so sick of them coming at me again
‘Cause if I was a man
Then I’d be the man
It’s not uncommon for men to be called powerful or assertive but women tend to be called bitchy or emotional if they act the same way.
When Hannah is out in the real world or online I am never sure what is influencing someone’s interaction with me. She is obviously trans, after all, and I assume that my trans-ness could be a factor in how someone treats her.
And yes a lot of this is overthinking and probably not worth spending any time pondering about, but this is how my brain works. At least the way my brain is working this morning.
Is someone holding the door open for me because that’s a polite thing for a gentleman to do for a lady, whether they are transgender or cis?
Is someone not holding the door open for me because I am transgender and therefor not a woman in their eyes?
Is the cashier being a little distant because they are uncomfortable with me or is the cashier just distracted by something else?
I could go on but I think you get the point.
It is impossible and futile to know why anyone does anything. I realize this, but again, this is how my brain works.
I would never assume I can relate to my wife in many of the situations she has. She is a smart person and knows a lot and gets very frustrated when a mechanic talks downs to her or directs questions towards me when it comes to auto maintenance or other MAN THINGS. As a masculine presenting person in most of my everyday interactions I can’t relate to many of her experiences.
This is just one example of how some men treat some women. And yes, I know, NOT ALL MEN. But it happens often enough. Too often.
What I can relate to are things that are commonly associated with a typical femme presentation.
To be clear, I do not think there are any standards one must adhere to when it comes to a feminine presentation. Wear stilettos or flip-flops. Sweatpants or a bodycon dress. Facial hair or an $80 makeover.
If my wife tells me she loves a pair of her heels but after ten minutes they become unbearable I can relate. If a colleague says the air conditioning in the office is too cold for their sleeveless blouse, I can relate. If my sister gets frustrated because her favorite shade of foundation was discontinued, I can relate.
What I can’t relate to is when woman on average getting paid less than an equally qualified and experienced man doing the same job. I have cis male privilege. And I know this is an uncomfortable thing for many men to admit to having but it’s the truth.
I hope I am being clear with this. What I am trying to say is that although Hannah and my wife are feminine presenting people, we will not always have the same interactions with the same person in the same situation. People may treat ciswomen differently and transwomen and besides asking someone it’s impossible to know anything for certain.
Oh, another thing. Hannah’s life is, for the most part, fun. Hannah goes to the mall, Hannah shops for dresses. My wife does these things too, but she also does the hard stuff, the real life stuff. I also have real life stuff, but it’s the stuff that the male side of me handles. Hannah doesn’t worry about how to afford replacing the furnace or about workplace issues, negotiating a job offer, those details. If a salesclerk is rude to Hannah because Hannah is a t-girl, that’s one thing. If my wife gets a job offer with a salary that is 20% lower because of her gender, that is a completely different and far more consequential thing.
Does this make sense? I hope so because I am moving on, lol.
I know what it’s like to be femme presenting. Again, how Hannah presents is not how all women SHOULD present. Hannah is heels and dresses and makeup. Traits and clothes that are traditionally associated with women. I know what it’s like to have a size 12 dress fit from a store AND I know how it feels to have a size 12 dress NOT fit from a different store.
Again, arguably shallow stuff. I have no illusion that these things are important.
How people interact with each other is no longer limited to the physical world. There’s this thing called The Internet and girl, that thing is a mess.
People do not act online in the same way they would act in the real world. Some people have no hesitation to say the meanest things to someone through a comment or an email but would never say the same thing to their face. The anonymity the internet provides can often embolden someone’s cruelty. Cyberbullying is real, ya’ll.
Hannah gets the occasional instant message about how transwomen are evil or whatever but I am willing to bet that the person who sent that wouldn’t have the courage (if that’s the right word) to say that to her face.
Hannah also gets a lot, and I mean a LOT of flirty messages. And when I say flirty I am using that word in a very general sense. Flirty covers everything from “you look cute!” to “I want to tie you up and __________ and then _______________ and then I will __________.”
I am not telling you this because I am, well, bragging.
Compliments are nice but overtly sexual comments are the last thing I want. I don’t look at sexually aggressive “compliments” as validation or affirmation or anything. I really don’t want them. My self-esteem is not inflated by these words. If anything they make me feel, well, a little stupid and exposed. I am not looking for messages like that. They make me second guess having an online presence.
What amazes (if that’s the right word) is the directness and laziness of men. And yes, not all men. Hannah gets a lot of direct messages on Twitter with simply “hey”.
To be clear, I don’t want men to contact me. There’s not a single person on the planet that has the potential to pique my interest.
When I get this message I wonder how busy you are where you don’t have the time to type “baby”.
No and even if I was I am not responding to you. I KNOW what you want.
“u r beautiful”
Please put in a LITTLE effort and take the extra two seconds to write “you are”
Poor grammar and spelling is very unattractive. This is probably a bitchy perspective but I stand by it.
What happened to gentlemen?
Again, I am not LOOKING for a gentleman. I don’t WANT a gentleman. Or any man.
I know the dating world has changed a lot since I was in it. I’ve been with my wife for almost twenty years and I’m amazed at how different the world is when it comes to finding someone.
I am not saying I am, or was, more enlightened when it came to, ah, courting my wife, but my goodness I tried hard to be clever and to put in an effort to impress her.
Is this the dating world these days? Maybe putting in effort to wooing someone in 2022 looks very different than I imagine. Maybe saying “hi bb” IS a big deal, maybe it IS a good thing.
My god I am sounding my age, aren’t I?
I understand that times change and I see how the world evolves and I am not so stubborn that I think how I did something or how things used to be was and is the way things SHOULD be done.
I can’t help but think that this is the world our wives, our sisters, our daughters live in. It’s annoying enough to get these comments and messages online and occasionally in the real world but for me it’s limited to Hannah’s life. In my male life I thankfully am not inundated with unwanted and unasked for sexually charged comments. For many women they are probably bombarded with these words and advances all the time.
Having a femme identity does open up new experiences and perspectives. I know what it’s like to wear a pencil skirt or have a bra dig into my skin after a few hours. These superficial moments lead to being able to relate to others, typically ciswomen, in a few ways. When my wife looks forward to getting home and changing into more comfortable clothes, well, I can relate.
Other experiences, such as how some men communicate their, ah, intentions and fantasies to me, also shape my perspective. I used to naively think that Hannah getting a sexually explicit email would be kind of sort of flattering in a way. But as soon as it happened I realized that this wasn’t affirming or welcome at all. It was just creepy.
As a feminine presenting person I have experiences like this way more often than I expected. I see how some men can be relentless and rude and often a little scary.
As a bi-gender person these experiences are firmly “limited” to my femme life. HE does not have to deal with this kind of crap.
But women don’t have the luxury to have these experiences limited to just part of their life, their world, their day. An unwanted comment or behavior can come at anytime and anywhere.
A new perspective and new experiences can change someone. Because of my femme identity, I have literally walked (and strutted) a mile (and more) in someone else’s heels. Well, they’re MY heels but you know what I mean.
One of the first things I noticed about myself was how Hannah was more vulnerable and emotionally introspective than my male side. This eventually lead to HIM adopting to these characteristics which I feel was beneficial.
There’s a lot of aspects to my gender identity that I love. I mean, there’s the clothes obviously but I also appreciate how Hannah’s experiences help me as a whole become a better, more empathetic person, and arguably, a better person.
5 thoughts on “To be a Girl”
This post is excellent. Another set of thoughts and considerations that are so well presented and truly worth pondering.
One of the virtues of, ahem, getting ‘older’ is the coming of a better, deeper, understanding of the world, of the way things work, and of one’s own life within it all.
For ‘us’, the presence of two gender presentations offers the benefit of being able to see the world from different perspectives, and, hopefully, as a result of that, to attain an understanding of both.
Thank you for your dedication to your dynamic and inspiring web page!
It’s sweater weather here in the midwest! Have a good weekend.
Marissa in Ohio
I really only know how I feel. I often present myself to the world as a woman, and sometimes the world seems to relate to me as a woman. But I can’t say I know what it feels like to be a woman, only what it feels like to be me.
I guess I could also say that I don’t know what it feels like to be a man, since I guess I am not quite male either. I know that sounds odd, but in some sense I feel like I am acting, regardless of how I present myself to others. Perhaps everyone feels that way to some degree.
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Although I rarely present en femme, I am always in heels and more.
I too have learned many things that I never even thought of in my male experience. Example is how uneven pavement effects walking in heels, how cracks, grates and elevator doors can catch your stiletto heel.
I consider myself lucky to have experience many of the external aspects of ‘being a girl’ and would love to experience more.
I think every male would benefit from this experience. Earth would be a kinder planet.
Thank you Hannah. A Cross Dresser’s Wife.