I used to know this trans woman who would tell you something she’d been doing style-wise lately and then follow up by explaining which of her many imagined flaws it compensated for and it started straight up fucking with me. She’d be like “I’m wearing clear nail polish now” and then follow it up with something insecure about how she looked like a man, and I’d look at my own arthritis hands and start trying to hide them.

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I’m thinking about her because as I’m going over pictures of my mom they’re driving home that I have the same hands as my mom.
And that’s reminding me that my very favorite thing is when trans girls borrow looks from each other and trade skills to look more like each other rather than comparing ourselves unfavorably to cis women.
There are definitely cliches and you know what I’ll take most of them because it’s what my sisters look like.

And anyway when you get past the undeniably difficult barrier of how you see yourself feeling bad because you have internalized transmisogyny and/or we’re just incredibly hard on ourselves, you’re ready to start seeing the similarities between you and other trans women as a positive thing rather than a difference from a standard that was always designed to exclude you.

To put this another way: being able to identify parts of “looking trans” that you find beautiful in other trans women, that’s an important and vital component in seeing the beauty in yourself. It’s the beginning of developing an aesthetic of trans women rather than trying to place yourself in an aesthetic of cis women. That’s important work for friendship, not just hookups, and building community, because you can’t do that well while trying to figure out how cis someone looks.

“Passing” = passing for a cis woman, not passing for a woman. You are a woman. And people who don’t see that and give it the respect it deserves are bigots. It doesn’t matter how outnumbered we are, this is just the truth. We’re women, and we’re a different kind of women. Do what you want (or need) with your bodies, especially what you need to survive, I’m not saying the problem is us. In fact I’m saying the opposite.

My model has always been, at my best: “I like my body now. I might want some changes. But that doesn’t have to mean hating on myself.”
And when that hatred looks identical to what we get externally you have to stop and ask yourself why exactly you’re parroting it instead of questioning it and trying to do better, if only for your sisters’ sakes. It hurts when our sisters tear us down or say mean shit about trans bodies. If it helps, think of each other and how your words will land.

Somewhere there’s a picture of my mom holding my sister right after my sister was born. I’m in this picture too, seeing my sister for the first time. My mom’s hand features prominently, with the IV still in in it and her hospital I’d bracelet. As I’ve gotten older I’ve appreciated that hand more and more. It’s a little bony like mine. But it’s not masculine, it’s my mom’s hand, and I feel lucky that part of me I get to see every day reminds me that I’m more like her than not.

Likewise when I see pictures of my friends that I see familiar features in. That’s not a bad thing, even if I keep my thoughts to myself because I know girl A and girl B aren’t going to hear it as a compliment. It’s a good thing. It’s cute and it’s right when we resemble each other. And while I absolutely support doing whatever you want and need with your own skin to make it fit you better: I’m never going to agree that it wasn’t beautiful, just a bad fit for you.

@Eweish my friend introduced me to this thought experiment: try, for a week or whatever, to visualize everyone you see, as trans. Hiding their percieved flaws, deliberately presenting their chosen gender. "Discover" their downplayed masculine/feminine features the way people tend to do when they find out someone is trans. At least for me i tend to feel lovingly about all these trans strangers, when I do it. It can make everything seem more mutable.

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