I really don’t understand it when gender has nothing to do with the body.
I stiffened when I saw this scene. Natalie Figueroa is not a likeable character. But I found myself relating to these words.
I have never been truly content being a woman. This does not mean that I want to live in a man’s body. I hear trans women refer to dressing prettily and gossip with girlfriends as experiences they’ve missed. Would the trans man counterpart to that be shaving and having boys’ nights out? I haven’t felt incomplete for not having had those experiences.
For me, bodies are just real estate for our actions, our minds and our intentions and I’m sitting inside a physical space that has less currency and less value than the real estate of a man’s body. I am fairly certain that who I am, would not change depending on the kind of body I’m in. But the world treats this body with less respect and power than I’d like.
I am not saying I don’t enjoy the nice things about living in a woman’s body. I love dressing up and I enjoy the natural grace that comes from being in a smaller, curvier body. But these are fringe benefits that I can perfectly well live without. They are my way of making peace with inhabiting a physical space that I’m not happy about, compensation prizes if you will. I cannot think of anything that I would miss deeply about being a woman, were I to wake up as a man tomorrow. Because who I am, has nothing to do with the body I live in.
This is also not about who I am attracted to. My physical/sexual side has been drawn to men, so far. But the only reason it has stopped there is because there hasn’t been a pressing need to go beyond. As a woman, there are enough of opportunities available to me to engage with men. The heavy social/emotional burdens of exploring sexuality with a woman haven’t felt worth the effort to me. In that hypothetical world where I’d wake up as a man, I can’t really imagine that flipping over to the equivalent model (being a man drawn to women) would be particularly difficult. That should tell you that my sexuality doesn’t drive my body identity either.
Anybody who was born with a male-presenting body won the luck of birth, similar to babies born to affluent parentage rather than poor families. I really don’t understand why someone would want to give all that up to live permanently in the squalor, the permanent fear and degradation that a woman’s body is subjected to.
I think about an acquaintance who transitioned. For years, I knew this person as a cis man. Then she came out as a trans woman. I don’t relate to her any differently since then, except for trying to figure out the right language to encompass her life. I feel empathy for her unhappiness and her struggles, I really do. But I feel it without truly understanding, in the way some cis men are sympathetic about period pains. Conversations give me some insight but not really understanding. It makes me think that maybe how relevant gender/ sexuality is to our identity, differs for us all.
I am not a man trapped in a woman’s body. I’m a person trapped in a woman’s body.