Not the sexiest title to be sure and one that’ll not drive many clicks, but I write largely for me. I find writing helps clarify my thoughts, get a better perspective and maybe, hopefully is of interest to others.
There are a number of things buzzing around in my head at the moment. In 14 days time on the 11th May, I will have checked into Parkside Hospital in Wimbledon and most probably now (at 5pm) be in surgery. It will mark a key stage in my transition as those most obvious parts of a male anatomy make way for a beautiful pussy. I, of course, hope that my female bits will look beautiful, I have a good surgeon who will I know do the best he can. At this stage and for ever since the surgery date was agreed I am and have been over the proverbial moon with excitement and anticipation.
I play a game with myself (I am sure I am not alone in this) in thinking “If I had a magic wand, what is the one thing I would most want” – clearly after health, happiness and being with my lovely and loving wife. For a long while many of those ‘wishes’ have been around bringing my body into alignment with my gender, such as a beautiful and orgasmic pussy, at least a full A cup and hopefully B cup breasts, working on my voice to not sound so male, being able to ‘pass’. All these wishes are largely outside my control, I am dependent on my surgeon, on how my body responds to oestrogen (given my age, I’ll be lucky to get an A), how much hard work might undo testosterone when you have a really deep voice. But more recently I realise that I really would like my partner to introduce me (and to think of me) as her wife. See I’ve been thinking a lot around gender.
Gender is interesting and attitudes to gender have been in the news quite a bit recently. For simplicity I am going to assume (wrongly) there are just two genders. Gender is not sex, though it is true that generally those who identify as being of the male sex, consider themselves men, and those of the female sex, women. And again, not considering those who are intersex (which may be as much as 1.7% of the population, see this article). Gender and especially how gender is expressed, is something that changes throughout history. In my lifetime, how ‘men’ behave and what makes a ‘real man’ has changed markedly. Indeed the idea that there exists such a thing as a ‘real man’, is laughable, implying there are men who are not real. Of course folk like Jenni Murray and Germaine Greer are noted for their views that some women are real women (and therefore some are not).
What makes a man a man, and a woman a woman? Someone assigned a woman at birth who undergoes a course of testosterone (with resulting beard growth, voice lowering and muscle development) and who identifies as a man, is no longer a woman. A ‘man’ assigned at birth, who undergoes a course of T blocker and Oestrogen and who identifies as a woman, is a woman. And these apply whether either go on to have gender related surgery. In the UK we recognise these things legally, so I have a woman’s name, a woman’s passport and driving licence. I am legally permitted to use the women’s bathroom.
I have always been a feminist. Feminism is fundamentally about gender equality. And now we have a political party that exists to champion gender equality, namely the Womens Equality Party, WE for short. As a young person I read books like The Female Eunuch and whilst I recover in hospital I have a number of books to catch up on like:
- Jess Phillips’ brilliant book, Everywoman
- Catherine Mayer’s Attack of the 50ft Women
- Everyday Sexism by Laura Bates
- Jenni Murray’s A History of Britain in 21 Women
- We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Men Explain Things to Me: by Rebecca Solnit
- Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran
- Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences by Cordelia Fine
I do have 5 days before discharge!!
Your suggestions to add to my education are welcome!
But to come back to being introduced as ‘my wife’. What is a wife? What is a husband?. Are these gender defined or sex defined roles? Do gay and lesbian couples think of one party as a wife and the other as husband? Or are they both husbands or wives?
I suspect from the little research I can do that peoples gender is the biggest determinant of whether they see themselves as both husbands or both wives. I don’t seem to see much evidence that one takes on the husband role and one the wife, though in past generations I suspect that may have been different.
Traditionally wives had certain roles distinct from those of the husband, but times have moved on. Once husbands were the ones who went out to work to provide for the wife and children, now both partners work and roles in the home are more interchangeable. My sexual focus has always been on the woman and her pleasure, not mine. In that respect (as in many others) I have never been a (typical) man. My focus has not changed, nor ever will. Does that make me a lesbian. If I have always been a woman (remember I was brought up understanding gender was determined by what was between ones legs), have I always been a lesbian. Does it matter? No, it’s simply an interesting ‘train of thought’.
I am way too old to have been able to ‘do’ Gender Studies at school – it didn’t exist. But I wonder if one would have discussed such things. I guess it was probably more to do with a more traditional gender approach.
Getting to this point has been an interesting journey of discovery. Going forward will I am sure be just as interesting and just as much a discovery. I probably won’t post again before surgery and maybe not whilst I recover (I do have a lot of reading to catch up on), but I will continue to write as I explore and maybe begin to understand what it means to live fully as a woman, including participating in public and political life in Britain right now.
To you all, and especially my trans-sisters, take good care of yourselves and those you love. Life is very, very precious.