I recently finished reading Manifest: Transitional Wisdom on Male Privilege, a collection of essays by trans men on male privilege. It has been really interesting to read it and reflect upon the privileges that I've lost and gained. In particular, I really like an essay by James St James (adapted from this blog post) that neatly summarized various examples of male privilege that he's experienced since transitioning.
I definitely relate to losing about half of these. I suspect I'm in a different place and time than he is, so I have a different relationship to privilege from gender.
In the spirit of exploring positive thoughts, I figured I would write down a few things that I like about being a woman in the pacific northwest today.
You can see that many of these are changes in how I approach the world, so it's possible that men can experience these too, especially if they are less constrained by the standards of masculinity.
i feel i can experiment more with my appearance
Before I transitioned, people seemed super attentive to me experimenting with my appearance, even for minor things like wearing different shoes or wearing some small earrings. I get it, there's a lot less variation in men's styles, so anything that goes outside of that variation really stands out. I worried about what people would say if I deviated too much.
Now, I feel like I can just wear whatever I want. I'm also starting to explore makeup more and it's quite fun! Overall, I feel I can navigate a much wider array of styles day to day. I get more comments on my appearance for sure, but they feel more natural.
As James points out, I do feel more pressure in dressing up every day as a result. Gone are the days when I could wake up and head out within 5 minutes. Nevertheless, for me the ability to experiment is worth it.
clothes are more comfortable
There are more fabric options and more types of clothing available. My only complaint is that the pockets tend to be half the size or non-existent.
For summers, dresses, skirts, and crop tops feel so much more breathable than even men's shorts. For winters, I love the warmth and comfort of a long thick women's coat and warm fuzzy boots.
women are much nicer to me
I found that women became a lot warmer and generally more receptive of my presence. By contrast, I found a stronger barrier interacting with men, as they seemed more careful in their interaction so it's not read in the wrong way.1
For myself, a lifetime of conditioning has made me avoid smiling, eye contact, and complimenting women to present myself as safe. I've been trying unlearn it all in order navigate my new social reality.
At first, it was a little overwhelming to have so many more warm interactions with other women. As I'm starting to get used to it, I find it really nice.
stalls are so much better than urinals
Okay, bathrooms for women are basically the same as those for men, but without the urinals. I never liked the experience of peeing in a urinal, but it took me me until I started to use stalls regularly to realize how much I disliked that experience. Besides the strange social dynamic of standing peeing next to someone, the presence of urinals changes the feeling of the bathroom itself. It's somehow weirder to talk to someone when you see someone peeing right there, or if you just stood next to each other.
there is less barrier in talking about my emotions
Somehow it's become easier to talk about my emotions lately. I'm sure part of it is due to roller coaster of emotions from gender transition and part of it is due to increase of estrogen in my blood. Yet, I can't help but feel at least part of it has been due to the different social pressures on men and women.
I realize that my emotions are taken less seriously. In spite of that (and maybe even because of it), I do cherish a new freedom in emotional expression.