I Have To Prove It Every Day

Another one of my classic TransGriot posts for your Feministe reading pleasure.

There was a recent Battlestar Galactica episode in which Sharon and her husband Helo were discussing some issues. During the conversation Helo remarked that to him his Cylon wife was always human. She countered that to the rest of the fleet she has to prove that every day.

I feel her on that.

There are times during this gender journey that I feel like Sharon. No matter how fly I look, how smart I am, how many awards I garner, how good a job I do and how many times my genetic girlfriends, supportive family members and classmates that are still in my life tell me that I am what I’ve known I was supposed to be, I still feel like Sharon in the fact that I have to prove my womanhood every day.

Sometimes that can get to be a pain in the ass.

Yeah, I’ll admit that there are some days that I wish that I’d been born female from jump and get to experience everything about it. Usually the transmen I know will tell me otherwise and extol how happy they are to escape cramps, bloating, the cycle, et cetera. Even my girlfriends will tell me they consider me the lucky one. I’ll sometimes respond with the comment that no one questions your femininity nor do you have to think about it on a regular basis. However, I do share one aspect of it with my genetic sisters. I now have a heightened risk for breast cancer and have to do mammograms and regular breast exams.

But as philosopher Simone de Beauvoir once stated, ‘Great women are made, not born.’

I may have only been female externally for thirteen years, but in a sense I’ve been prepping for this point in my life for a long time. My goal is to be the best woman I can be despite being born in a male body. To me that means observing the great examples of positive women in my own family, my feminine role models famous and not-so-famous (which I’m profiling in my Women I Admire posts) and incorporating their best qualities into my own life.

blackwomen heroesOne thing I’m acutely aware of growing up in a family of historians is the great contributions that Black women have and continue to make to advance our people. Uplifting the race in terms of community service is a part of Black womanhood that I eagerly embrace. All the sisters that I’ve read about and witnessed doing positive things inspires me to step it up another level.

I’m cognizant of the fact that Black women are considered trendsetters in terms of fashion and their images. I’m considered a role model in the transgender community and have to pay attention to the image that I project to the outside world. Not a problem since I like fashionable clothes, get a manicure and pedicure every two weeks, hair is on point and I rarely leave the house without my face done. The fact that I have a fashionista diva as a roommate who will not hesitate to call me out along with my best girlfriends doesn’t hurt either.

With hormones, electrolysis, laser hair removal and surgery the physical part of transition is easy. The toughest part is the spiritual and emotional end of it. That part of the feminine journey doesn’t end until they close the coffin lid on you. Getting in tune with the spiritual and emotional side is a must and too many of my transsistahs ignore or are unaware of that aspect of womanhood.

Black womanhood is a lofty goal to live up to. Sometimes I believe that some of the genetic women in my family dismiss the prayerful seriousness I place on being a compliment and not a detriment to the women (and men) that are related to me. I realized in my youth I don’t just represent me, I represent my family and the entire African-American community. My interactions with society must be on point and reflect that at all times.

Nothing in life is easy. Being an African-American transwoman definitely isn’t. It’s hard work and frustrating as hell sometimes. All these words about my latest take on being transgender get boiled down to one simple fact: I’m happily living life in my own skin.

Even if I have to constantly prove that I’m one of the girls.


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9 Responses to I Have To Prove It Every Day

  1. Anna says:

    This was a wonderful piece. I know so little about the trans community. Now I know how one person goes through the mental and emotional side of becoming a woman. I think it’s amazing (for any one of any gender) that you decide to look up to the positive Black Women in the world. I’m so happy you feel comfortable in your own skin. Everyone should be so lucky!

  2. Renee says:

    I’ll sometimes respond with the comment that no one questions your femininity nor do you have to think about it on a regular basis.

    I’m actually surprised by this statement because I know that you are aware that many cisgendered women have been accused of being trans and that has resulted in discrimination. I cannot remember her name but there was a woman who was thrown out of a hotel last year because they thought that she was a man in disguise. Just because someone is cisgendered does not mean that they do not face discrimination if they fail to perform femininity in the way that we have socially constructed it.

  3. Monica Roberts says:

    Renee,
    That was my thinking as of February 2007. As you know, it’s evolved since then.

  4. Renee says:

    Thanks Monica, I forgot that it was an older post when I responded in comments.

  5. TT says:

    ” I realized in my youth I don’t just represent me, I represent my family and the entire African-American community. My interactions with society must be on point and reflect that at all times.”

    That’s not right. You should only represent yourself. It’s ridiculous for you to acquire the burdens of the whole African-American community as well. You’re only one fallible human being, like the rest of us.

  6. maribelle says:

    Interesting piece, thanks for posting it. It generated several questions and raised several frustrations for me.

    You wrote:

    “No matter how fly I look, how smart I am, how many awards I garner, how good a job I do and how many times my genetic girlfriends, supportive family members and classmates that are still in my life tell me that I am what I’ve known I was supposed to be, I still feel like Sharon in the fact that I have to prove my womanhood every day.”

    Hmm.

    1. I’m not sure your Cylon analogy is the best one. The Urban Dictionary defines Cylon as: – “A robot made by humans that exists as multiple copies and inhabits this planet and all other planets in the universe.” Therefore, a Cylon is NOT a human and has to “pass” as one all the time. Surely this isn’t what you meant about being a woman?

    2. Not one of the first four items on your list has one inherent thing to do with being a woman. You’re not going to be more or less of a woman based upon how “fly” you look, how smart you are, how many awards you win nor your job. How “smart” would you have to be to “prove your womanhood”? How many awards would make you feel like a woman? These are mutually exclusive things. They are only connected in your own mind–and that is the only place this problem can be solved.

    3. How often should your supportive friends and family have to try to convince you that they accept you as you present yourself? Why is it their job to provide such buttressing up of your sense of self? Your article seems to put the blame on your own lack of self-acceptance outside your own self. That will NEVER work. (How many fundamentalist Christians would have to accept you for you to feel vindicated as a woman? The answer doesn’t lie there.)

    4. To whom do you feel you have to “prove your womanhood” in this exhaustive sense day after day, despite the deep support of loving friends and family? Why is it everyone around you’s problem to validate your own sense of self? This does not strike me as healthy.

    5. I find it deeply depressing that the ways you are a “role model” in the trans-community all have to do with dressing “femininely”: mani/pedis, hair and makeup DO NOT MAKE A WOMAN. Nor in many parts of town are they considered good “role models” for anything. (And in the parts of town where they can’t afford such luxuries, I guess those poor women don’t get to be women at all.)

    6. “Femininity” has nothing to do with being a woman. Not now, not ever. Dress up all you want, women of the world, and wear makeup and heels, but don’t tell me that makes you more or less of a “woman” than anyone else.

  7. Vombatus says:

    Yeah — the only thing that tipped me off that is was an older post was that, tragically, there are no recent BSG episodes to have provided the inspiration for it.

  8. transgenmom says:

    I’m actually surprised by this statement because I know that you are aware that many cisgendered women have been accused of being trans and that has resulted in discrimination.

    To be fair though that could still be true for the people she is specifically responding to.

    I have to say though that is one big reason I don’t tell people I am transgendered until I have known them for a while. I think that people’s minds don’t really change that much from their initial decisions. If you tell someone you are transgendered a year after knowing them they have a pretty set image of you that isn’t going to change. But if you tell them early on or when they first know you their reactions change.

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