“This hurt the man inside of me, but it was ok for the girl inside of me” . On “failing to conform” as a motive for transition

In earlier posts here on Transgenderreality, we have seen how there seems to be different motivations for the people who want to transition from one sex to the other. Some are extremely preoccupied with gender roles and stereotypes, while others have sexual motivations. Many have a mixture of both. Some are jealous of women.

Some aspiring transitioners tell stories of feeling like they are “failing a man”. They feel like they cannot possibly fulfill the stereotypes they associate with being a man, which apparently in their minds mean they might as well be the other sex. It is a mixture of being trapped in stereotypical views of masculinity and rampant sexism – after all, women are not failed men!

Let’s look at some examples:

This poster can’t get dates, and wants to be a beautiful woman so that he can “simulate myself in my head as a person that I would love”.

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The commenters are clear in their diagnosis though: “You’re trans, you’re trans, jump in!”

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Another poster states that he feels “more comfortable feeling girly and submissive than manly and dominant”.

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Yet another poster says that he tried and failed to fit into the male role, and since he’s not a sports star or a bearded lumberjack, that means he’s not the man he’s “supposed to be”. However, the “girl” inside him is ok with being in a “beta role”, because apparently “girls” are just naturally submissive!

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In this post, commenters discuss what it means to “fail as your assigned gender”

This commenter feels that because he likes talking about feelings and being connected, that means he can’t possibly be a man:

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“I always sort of sucked at being a guy. I never really enjoyed any “male” activities (sports, cars, etc=.

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Lastly, we have the somewhat rarer female poster, stating that she, never liked shopping for clothes, which women are supposed to do, so she’s a failed woman.

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It’s interesting to note how rampant the gender stereotyopes are in all of these stories. If gender roles and gender stereotypes have nothing to do with transgenderism, then why are they so pervasive in these stories?

“Is it normal to get erect when doing girly things?” Sexual fetishism in the trans community

Online transgender groups are quick to assure people that there is absolutely nothing sexual about being trans. Gender identity and sexuality are completely separate, the narrative usually goes.

Is it normal to get erect when doing girly things?” asks a poster in r/asktransgender.

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“Oh, yeah, totally normal”.

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Does anyone else get erect when passing as a girl?”

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Don’t worry, OP, that’s normal!

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I get erections when I wear female clothing, oh and I want to use my penis to penetrate my girlfriend”

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This poster worries that he has a fetish, but the commenters are quick to shoot this down. There is no such thing as “autogynephilia” (a sexual fetish for seeing oneself as a woman), they say. In fact, it’s normal for women to get turned on from sexy clothes!

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If you read around in places like r/asktransgender, you will see that people there are very quick to shot down the idea that there is any sexual element to wanting to transition from male to female. What you will also see, however, is a lot of posts from people coming into the sub, talking about having sexual feelings about seeing themselves as women, and worrying that their desire to transition is not rooted in some deep-seated identity, but in sexual motives.

It turns me on to wear female clothes and imagine myself as a girl

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Is it possible to tuck without getting aroused?”

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Feeling constantly aroused when wearing female clothes:

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“My second most worry is what role porn plays in all of this.”

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It is also interesting to notice that almost all of these stories of sexual arousal when “cross-dressing” come from males. Where are the females feeling aroused by wearing pants and binding their chests?

“I hope your old saggy transphobic vagina falls off”: trans misogyny on twitter

Trans people online are fond of accusing feminists who disagree with them of being hateful. However, if you pay attention to the interactions happening in various places, you will very rarely see feminists wishing death, disease and other terrible things on the people they disagree with. What you will find are trans activists doing this.

Trans people on twitter also often have negative opinions of women, especially those women they deem to be “TERFs” (“trans exclusionary radical feminists”). Here Twitter user “WeirdBirdPal” is feeling happy that such a woman got cancer:

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TERFs are so evil that they should get ill with plague:

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Terfs are inhuman scum:

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Wishing vagina cancer on a feminist:

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TERFs and their allies should die in fires or from cancer:

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TERF kids should be set on fire:

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Feeling urges to be mean, harm someone and take their things is normal and not bad!! Even more jealousy of women.

This poster is jealous of their female friend. What should they do? Luckily, r/asktransgender has advice:

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“You might feel urges to be mean or harm this girl. You might feel urges to avoid her. You might feel urges to take things away from her. You are NOT “bad” for feeling this way!!!”

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“I just get so jealous that they got AFAB [“assigned female at birth] and have never thought twice about it”. Those lucky women, they never have to think twice about being women. Except when worrying about male violence, rape, being denied access to abortion, when making less money than men for doing the same job….

“The catalog of her interests, behaviors and clothing choices”: On gender stereotypes in stories of transgender children.

If you pay attention to news stories about transgender people, especially young kids, you will notice that they are often brimming with stereotypes. Here are just some examples:

So I might have had a daughter who would paint her nails with me and play Barbies. I could have helped her braid her hair and, later, pick out her prom dress. I could have watched her walk down the aisle with pride. I am sure that life would have been good, but I promise it wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling as the journey I’ve had with my son.

The above quote is from the mother of FtM child, who also describes her child as getting a ‘boy haircut’. The child, who is 16 years old, has also gotten “top surgery”, which is the cutesy name for a double mastectomy often used in these stories.

Another parent tells this story:

she requested that we get rid of the horrible “boy” things that had plagued her all of her young life. That year, she worked with a joyful, fevered intensity as she yanked down every single item in the house that hinted “boy” to her and dropped them with relief into the front room.

The mother of the child described by this quote goes on to describe how she suddenly realized that her child “never was a boy” because he didn’t make car noises when he played. She also says:

Quickly my mind raced through the catalog of her interests, behaviors and clothing choices, and I saw how many clues I had missed.

It cannot be said any clearer: this parent really believes that a child’s interests and clothing choices are significant indicators when it comes to administering medical treatment that will have to be continued for their entire lives.

She  goes on to describe her child like this:

My beautiful teenage daughter, with her flowing hair, strong sense of style and love of gossip

Apparently male children cannot have flowing hair, a sense of style and a love of gossip.

In another article, we find this quote:

Except both these girls were born boys. Within a couple of years, as soon as they could talk in fact, they were preoccupied with anything normally associated with girls – dresses, jewellery, dolls and girls’ names.

The toy preferences of toddlers are again taken as signs that there is something wrong with them (born in the “wrong body”). Male children playing with dolls are pathologized.

According to their parents, from an early age Lily and Jessica were very aware of gender. They became increasingly unhappy with their gender and were drawn to dresses and toys more typically associated with girls.

If a child is told that their interests are “wrong”, and that a specific toy or item of clothing is “for girls”, then OF COURSE the child is going to be “unhappy with their gender”. Children are growing up in a time where gender stereotypes are VICIOUSLY enforced, often by parents.

And not unhappy in the way a child might be unhappy if you forced them to tidy their bedroom or eat sprouts. Lily and Jessica were becoming uncomfortable and even distressed about being boys.

“If I had to live as a boy I would be really upset,” Lily says. “Really upset. But now I’m sort of living as a girl I feel much better.” It’s a medical condition known as gender dysphoria or gender variance.

Has anyone asked this child what he thinks “living as a boy” and “living as a girl” means?

The next article features a boy whose parents very obviously tried to enforce gender roles on him:

At 3, Mark asked to dress for Halloween as Dora the Explorer; his parents bargained him down to Darth Vader, which at least featured a cape. 

Why do parents have to “bargain him down” from a Dora the Explorer costume? For those who don’t know, Dora the Explorer looks like this:

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A pink t-shirt, orange shorts and a purple backpack. Speaking as a parent, the author of this post would be thrilled by such a straightforward and simple costume. No need for sewing, or complicated masks, capes or accessories. But apparently, to the parents in the article, this costume was so objectionable that they could not allow it.

The child’s father elaborates:

I’m in a conservative business; I sell software,” he says. “I want the normal life. And this was gonna be different, when my son is getting out of the car in a dress in front of everybody. But then you have to think about who are you protecting? Yourself or your kid? People would say, ‘I can’t believe you’d let your kid do that. That’s abuse.’ I’ll tell you what’s abuse: suicide. Do you want a live daughter or a dead son?”

A son in a dress, unacceptable. But a daughter in a dress, much better.

The article concludes:

though I am using male and female pronouns to differentiate between the time before and after the transition, her parents don’t. Out of respect for their daughter, they use “she,” or try to, even when talking about the past. Similarly, they have edited out of their albums and wall displays six years of pictures of Molly as a boy and have bought a new carved oak figurine to update the genders in a family crèche on the mantelpiece.

Does this strike anyone else as incredibly sad? They have literally edited their child’s history our of their lives.

Another story of a girl child with parents who have very clear expectations of her behavior and interests:

In the fall of 2009, we welcomed a beautiful redheaded baby girl into our family.  We swaddled her in pink and lace, bought baby dolls we expected her to play with soon.  But Lola had other plans. Lola had no interest in dolls, instead gravitating toward trucks, cars and dinosaurs. In stores, she would ignore the girls section and go right to the boys. “I want these, Mommy!” she would say, pointing to the blue Vans with airplanes on them, and the dark blue or red flannel shirts. We were open, so we indulged Lola with typical toys for boys.  But I started to wonder, and gently ask. Was this a phase or part of my daughter’s true identity?

If you describe letting your child play with the toys that interests her as “indulging”, you are not, in fact, “open”. And what is “true identity” supposed to mean in this context? The idea that which toys a child plays with are indicative of their “true identity” is a RIDICULOUS idea, and yet it is so pervasive.

Lola even started to come out to my family members. During a trip to California, she said, “Uncle Dave, I have something to tell you.”

“Yes, Lola?” he said.

“I’m a boy.”

“Well, OK!” he responded, not totally surprised given the previous indicators and their shared interest in “Star Wars” and dinosaurs.

This child’s entire family seems to be extremely invested in narrow gender roles.

The examples are abundant. Here is a boy who wanted to play with barbies:

At the toy store, Brandon would head straight for the aisles with the Barbies or the pink and purple dollhouses. Tina wouldn’t buy them, instead steering him to neutral toys: puzzles or building blocks or cool neon markers. One weekend, when Brandon was 2½, she took him to visit her 10-year-old cousin. When Brandon took to one of the many dolls in her huge collection—a blonde Barbie in a pink sparkly dress—Tina let him bring it home. He carried it everywhere, “even slept with it, like a teddy bear.”

But his parents are reluctant, trying to force other preferences on their child.

Tina had no easy explanation for where Brandon’s behavior came from. Gender roles are not very fluid in their no-stoplight town, where Confederate flags line the main street. Boys ride dirt bikes through the woods starting at age 5; local county fairs feature muscle cars for boys and beauty pageants for girls of all ages. In the Army, Tina operated heavy machinery, but she is no tomboy. When she was younger, she wore long flowing dresses to match her long, wavy blond hair; now she wears it in a cute, Renée Zellweger–style bob. Her husband, Bill (Brandon’s stepfather), lays wood floors and builds houses for a living. At a recent meeting with Brandon’s school principal about how to handle the boy, Bill aptly summed up the town philosophy: “The way I was brought up, a boy’s a boy and a girl’s a girl.”

Parents refuse their child to play with toys he’s interested in, because they are “for girls”. Parents then get very confused when child tells them he’d rather be a girl. How about we stop trying to make children “match” their genitals with respect to clothing, toys and behaviors?

“You bitch how dare you wake up in the morning as a girl”: more jealousy and anger towards women

In a previous post we saw how common it is to feel jealousy, resentment, even anger, towards women, among men who either wish to transition or are actively transitioning. There are so many examples of this that it merits a follow-up post.

I’ve been extremely jealous of women and their bodies from about puberty“:

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This poster feels confused about the difference between envy and attraction:

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Right now, I hate women, and I’m not sure why“. Also, “cis women” have it easier.

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From the comments: “I taught myself to hate and fear everything feminine”. Also, being a girl is like swimming downstream.

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too many beautiful women. I hate them all“:

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From the comments: “When girls flirt with me it pisses me off”.

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More from the comments: “you bitch how dare you wake up in the morning as a girl with no effort”.

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Teenage girls are total bitches“:

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Severe negative emotions towards others“: This poster admits to being okay with lying, stealing, and “willfully fucking someone over”.

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From the comments: “I seriously couldn’t care less if some trans woman takes people’s money to get surgery”.

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More from the comments: “for some reason, I absolutely despise women”

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women can be fucking evil, pure evil“:

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I hate women because everything seems so easy for them: (this person apparently hates paragraphs too, relevant part highlighted)

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Another poster confused about the difference between jealousy and attraction:

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The poster goes into more detail in the comments: “it started as a fetish and progressed into wanting to live full time as a woman”.

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There is more, a lot more examples all over this community. The mixing together of jealousy, resentment, anger, and sexual attraction, often with a dose of thinking that being a woman is easier than being a man. Many of these people are not in a healthy emotional place, and their views of what it is like being a woman are seriously misguided.

Feeling disgust with gender norms and male privilege? Get a double mastectomy!

We have seen many examples of how young males get sucked into feeling dissatisfaction with their bodies when taking part in online transgender communities. Often this dissatisfaction comes from liking things our culture traditionally deems to be “for girls”, other times there is a sexual element to the desire to change sex.

For young girls who aspire to transition, the motive much more often seems to be a pervasive unease with the strictness of the female gender roles. It’s like these girls and young women are aware of the fact that men have it better in a lot of areas, but they don’t know what to do about it. We see this clearly in this post, where the poster talks about her unease, even hatred of her female body:

I feel a deep discontentment with my female body 95% of the time.

I think some aspects are quite amazing (like menstrual cycles and the potential to give birth!), but that doesn’t detract from my general unease and disgust with femaleness to the degree that I feel pinned down by it (or trapped in it!).

Feeling some ambivalence about your body is certainly not unusual. Not only because of failing to meet arbitrary standards of beauty, but also because of the social significance our bodies have.

When I look in the mirror, I can’t accept what I see. I hate my hips and butt and breasts. My thighs just seem generally shapeless. Overall, I have a weaker composition than most men. I hate how “soft” I look. My facial features are soft as well and I am drawn to sharper, deeper features (otherwise more masculine ones).

One part bog-standard “hating your thighs”, something females have been conditioned to do literally since they were babies:

picture of girl's onsie that says "I hate my thighs" and a boy's onsie that says "i'm super"

I have had an obsession with men from a young age. I have always picked up on their privilege. To me, they seemed more free, more successful, funnier, braver, more outrageous, more lighthearted, and less complicated than women. I looked at men and I saw power and movement, joy and grounding. I looked at women and saw sacrifice, pain, accommodation and anxiety. Men just seemed like the half that had it figured out.

And one part internalized sexism.

Obviously looking at that now, I realize there are so many things that have traditionally held women down and still do. I hate the expectation of some effervescent personality, of that need to feel accommodating, of acting stupid when you’re not. Of women congregating over things like consumption and trends, instead of more enduring things. (Again, this is what’s reflected in the media, but it’s also experienced. I simply did not fit in with girls my age, nor do I feel I fit in with college-aged women today. I find their interactions surprisingly vapid, maybe even scripted, and dissatisfying.)

She hates the expectations that are put on women, yet she is also quick to dismiss women as “vapid” and their interactions dissatisfying.

Does this make any sense? Is my disgust with gender norms bleeding into how I literally perceive the female figure?

The first reply, the very first reply, is this:

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If you are dissatisfied with the sexist expectations of society, you should have your breasts surgically removed, because obviously you are not a real woman.

The OP gets more level-headed advice further down in the thread, thankfully. We here at transgenderreality hope she can learn to become at ease with her female body in a sexist world. And let’s hope young women stop looking for advice about these things in places that are blatantly sexist.

(archived link)