Seeing me as a trans woman

I have cleansed the burdens of my heart.

That’s a good line, I thought. Then-
-I am very concerned about how I seem. Whiff of hypocrisy. Then-
-it’s a beautiful line, and, well, how you appear is important. People care about how we appear.

I washed my hands, and went to tell him I was going. He is lovely, though I have kept him waiting for his lunch. And the line was OK, though jumping because I saw a human being that was me, in the mirror I had not noticed was a bit off. One cannot control how one appears.

I am telling this backwards. Before, I thought I should not speak of you, because she knows you- yet I am in pain and did not resist. Could not resist, whatever. I am indeed very hard on myself- which may just mean that I act in my weak, stupid and self-indulgent way, but agonise about it. The first thing I wonder when I notice something about myself is “How is this wrong?” After, I thought of saying it is not because you are wrong, you are as you are because of your experiences and that is so beautiful and wonderful- but I thought I would be pleading for me, not you, wishing to seem caring. And she can see you clearly without my pleading.

So. The report of the parliamentary committee, the radical feminist backlash about the dangers to women, and your response. I pluck up courage to ask her,

-Do you see me as a woman?
-You might not like the answer.

She explains carefully that she sees me as a trans woman. I have those particular experiences. She sees my gentleness. It is beautiful.

-I have seen it as weakness!
-It can be strong, too.
-“In my weakness is my strength.”

There is no escape into being “seen as a woman” in that “being a woman” is OK in some way that being a trans woman is not. Being a trans woman is OK too. That is the relief my soul sought, the thought that I am wrong simply for being who I am is insupportable, for I can be no other.

In the world without patriarchy, would there be trans folk? We talk of mutilation under social pressure: Chinese foot-binding making walking painful, women in some cultures becoming immensely fat because it is a status symbol for the husband- he is so wealthy, he can support an indolent wife; FGM. I note that all these mutilations are of women. I hear of social pressure on young men to get ripped at the gym, but that fits strength and fitness- at least the appearance of it- which is a good thing. By this argument F-M trans folk are women. The exception is M-F.

If removal of genitals is not right for us, if it is indeed a mutilation under social pressure
we are sufficiently like women to accept that mutilation.
If it is the only way I can see to be who I am, it might be a price worth paying!

I feel accepted, as a trans woman. It is healing. I can touch on “wanting to blend into the background in the most eye-catching way possible”, or that Heaney poem, thoughts not beginning to coalesce, yet, in my mind. And she can share her delight in these beautiful Wentworth wooden jigsaw puzzles. The smell of them on opening that bag, the unique shapes of the pieces- no corner pieces!- the feel of the pieces, it is a delightful sensual experience.

Vermeer, The Art of Painting

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