Tag Archives: Support

Macho Men & The Femme Factor

Sabrina Pandora

I’ve noticed that there seems to be a bit of a division in the trans community, such as it were.  I thought I’d take today to comment on it.

Y’see, there are certain inequalities that exist in the trans community.  Well, let’s be honest, there are a lot of them, but today we’re going to examine one so that I can move on to my point.  And that inequality is in passing.

Between transmen and transwomen there is a very, very clear division on this, and it has been pretty accepted, so I don’t feel as though I am overstepping my bounds in making this observation.  Transmen have an easier time of it when it comes to passing than transwomen, at least on casual inspection.  After all, a short haircut, men’s clothes, a binder and a little bit of swagger can go a long ways.  Add a little facial hair to that equation and very few people really question what’s under there.  They are far more likely to jump to the conclusion ‘gay man’ then they are ‘trans man’.

But for transwomen it is usually a whole lot harder.  Trying to dress up a Y chromosome in a pretty package and make it look X so that society won’t freak out, discriminate and laugh at you is a whole lot harder.  This is arguable, but again, I’m pretty sure that I’m on target here.

So with that logical assumption made, we move on to my next observation, which is segregation between the gender fences in the trans community.  How often do you see transmen and transwomen hanging out together?  Seems pretty seldom.  Transwomen and transmen flock together all right (so long as the trans women are all either unpassable or uncaring- but that’s a column for another time).  But the intermingling just doesn’t seem to happen.  Now why is that?

Observation has told me that it is the Passing Prejudice.  The rule that says that if you are trans and you spend time with someone who does not pass well enough, then you are instead making yourself suspect as well and bringing down your own passability.  Now, mind you, this rule also applies to straights who hang out with non-passable transfolk, but somehow it usually doesn’t bother them as much.  Go figure.

Because as mentioned earlier, transmen often pass reasonably easily, whereas transwomen do not.  So in order to keep themselves from being ‘read’, they avoid their opposite numbers when they can, and certainly don’t make a habit of socializing with them.  Besides, there is that not-so-vague and not-so-quiet notion that has been circulated that transmen somehow view their sisters in transition as somehow idiotic and ridiculous.  As they are working so hard to distance themselves from stereotypically feminine behavior, habits and lifestyle, transwomen are often rushing headlong to embrace it, some at a breakneck pace.  It just makes no sense to many transmen, and much like so many activists look at the overblown drag queens on floats in parades and shake their heads that these are their representatives to the community and how they are viewed by the world at large, so too do the transmen look at the 50 year old transwoman in the too-short vinyl skirt and six inch heels and fishnet top and bra with a bedraggled wig and sigh.

But there’s something that they are missing out on, and I think that it is important enough to mention and shed a little light upon.

You see, transwomen are a huge resource for transmen that are being largely ignored.  Yes, they do tend to have their idiosyncrasies and they do have their moments, but there is a simple fact that most transmen seem to overlook when considering them.  You see, transmen, particularly when they are first starting out, do not usually have an understanding of the nuances of masculine society.  They do not understand the subtle body language, the power of a nod up or down when passing another man, the difference in the way that a self-confident man walks versus an angry man or an effeminate man.

Sure, we can argue all day about the definitions of masculinity and how it is up to the individual to define that for themselves.  You betcha, that is quite true.  But the reality of the situation is that while society has some pretty preset and concrete ideas of what is femininity, it has even stronger ideas about masculinity.  And they are very simple, very basic and very, very concrete.

And transwomen know them better than anyone else in the world.

Why?  Because they did not come naturally to them… they had to learn to emulate those masculine behaviors and adhere to those masculine codes in order to learn to survive in the society that they never chose, but was thrust upon them.  Crossing your legs the right way, keeping those hand gestures tight and firm, portraying the acceptable emotional states… all of these things and so many more are all something that transwomen had to learn, because for so many of them, it did not come naturally.  They had to ape the men around them, and often through ridicule and hazing did they find what was acceptable.

So when they encounter transmen, here is a golden opportunity.  Any transwoman who had to unlearn behaviors and body language could potentially make a fantastic tutor for transmen who are trying to hone their own masculine behaviors.  Just as walking in heels takes practice and comes with a learning curve, so too does walking in sneakers as a guy, or cowboy boots.  Women walk with their elbows in, one of the keys of feminine body language, whereas men bow their elbows out to take up more space and appear larger.  Women run their fingers through their hair one way, men do it another.  Seldom will you see a woman rubbing the scruff of her chin while thinking, whereas men seldom play with their lower lip when in thought.

All of these subtle nuances that could be transferred… lost.  And I imagine that there is some teaching to go in the other direction too, but on that I can’t speak… after all, I know a few transmen in passing, but I can’t say that I am close friends with a single one.  Why?  Because I am a transwoman.  I am high femme, and I’ve yet to meet a transman who thought I had a single solitary thing to offer him, forget about actually befriending me and spending time around me.  And apparently in this I am not alone, as I poll other transwomen that I know, and find that while we know others of our own estrogen-fueled tribe, the testosterone tribe is unknown to us all.

So here’s the call to our brothers in transition… in many cases, we’re here, we know, and we can be an invaluable resource for you if you can get over stubborn pride and seek us out.  We spent years pretending to be men, so we know a bit about the subject of outward shows of masculinity.  Perhaps we might be able to help you become the man that you want to be… and perhaps you might be able to steer us away from floral prints and leather miniskirts.

 

Written by Sabrina Pandora

TQ Nation contributor

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Filed under Spout Out, Support

TQ Shout Out to Chaz Bono & Video Clip Submissions Wanted!

Chaz Bono Shout Out:

Okay — for some reason, Chaz Bono has been on my heart the past two days. I’ve read some articles and know he has a lot of support; however, he also receives a lot of opposition, disapproval and has many “haters”.

Being in the public eye is not an easy thing, especially being the child of not just one celebrity, but two. I have read comments by the general population and some of the negative feedback truly shook me and stirred up my soul.

Chaz is courageous to be a voice for our community…a group of people whose voices have been silenced by years of opposition (even from within the GLB community).

I wish we could make him aware of this website and also provide him with a safe place full of support and love.

I also want to thank all of those in the public eye that is not afraid to have a voice. We have many trans people who are a positive representation of us worldwide, from entertainers to comedians to musicians to artists to authors to activists…

TQ Nation: Calling All Citizens:

We live in a very hateful world, so it is very important for us to show extra support and give love to our family within our community.

This website is my home and all of you are my family. This place not only is a safe world for you, it also is for my wife and I.

I would like to make a video for YouTube with clips from all of you who want to send one to me. You can email your video clips to: tnt@transqueernation.com — I want clips that say anything from why you are a citizen here, to if you found your love here, to it being a place that has helped you, anything you want to help others become aware that there is a place for them too here in TQ Nation.

I will edit the submissions and post it on YouTube.

Deadline for your video submission (no more than 45 seconds long, please) is: November 25th

Thank you all for being a part of this wonderful community.

Remember: Each of us has a VOICE…so, Use It Wisely 🙂

We are ALL striving to build a BRIGHTER tomorrow…

Much love,
Tristan

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Filed under Entertainment, News, Shout Out, Support, Updates