My life used to be so easy when I had Male Privilege.
This has all changed in the last two years, and it’s been super accelerated in the last four months with the introduction of Estrogen. Little by little the hormones gradually change the way my entire body works and well as my mind. It’s a powerful and insightful process. The difference between testosterone and estrogen in my life has been like night and day.
I was speaking about this the other day with a fellow trans woman who is much further into her journey than me. We spoke about how our behaviours and the way we felt and responded to things with testosterone compared with estrogen treatments. We both felt that the Estrogen has calmed us and made us better people, that the struggle was caused by having the wrong hormone. It really spins me out that my entire life could have been so different from an earlier age just from having the right hormones. It is something that I don’t dwell upon though.
Knowing what I now know through all the therapy and exploration of self, I feel that the main reason I want to share my story is so the future generations don’t feel the fear or shame that I felt for so long about being the true me.
Learning that expressing the inner self in a truly authentic way to the outside world, is a very powerful thing. It’s better to be yourself than trying to be a version of what you think everyone wants you to be.
For me, this astoundingly hard path is actually what makes it so good, I feel like I have a purpose now and I have something valuable to add. I have finally found my people after searching for so long. I am no longer lost in the sea of subversive sub-cultures and scenes getting lost trying to find others like me and failing every time.
In my journey to realise what I was, I pushed myself to the limits of my physical and mental self. The wrong hormone was flooding my system with contradictory signals to what was in my heart. I worked overtime to make sure that the outside world would not find out.
All of this carefully orchestrated facade was to hide the beautiful woman who I am now becoming. Looking back it seems so ridiculous that I was so scared. All the worries and anxieties I had seem so trivial to me now. But those very same things used to have so much crippling power over me.
In Australia, trans/gender diverse people represent a very small portion of the population. At least the ones who are open about it anyway. I’d say there is a huge amount of closeted Trans/gender diverse peoples in out community.
I am a minority now.
I discovered I used to have thing called Male privilege. I didn’t even really understand it, but I knew that I had it back then. I have had many arguments with males about this. It seems that most males are oblivious to this, or if they do acknowledge it don’t feel comfortable talking about it.
A part of the reason I didn’t want to be who I am for so long was due to me not wanting to be on the “other side” of this male privilege, I was terrified of not being protected by the image I had carefully created over the years. I was seen as this 6 foot 2, hulk of a white man. I had absolutely nothing to fear from that position. I was able to get jobs easily and managed to get away with so many things because people were scared of me. I have never been violent and never been in a fight, but I used to use my size and quick wit to dominate groups. If I established who I was early on within a group I was never bought into question.
I lost all that privilege when I started to dress in women’s clothes and present as a female. The problem was I was still behaving like I had that privilege. I didn’t realise how vulnerable I had become. I failed to see how others saw me and it got me into some bad situations.
I must stress that I’m not saying I am to blame for these situations. I feel the exact opposite. I’m using these stories to illustrate the difference of how I’m perceived and treated in the world now I am no longer a cis-male.
I’m going to share these with you in the hope that I can heal from it.
In my first year of presenting as a female in Melbourne, Australia these things happened.
I got groped in a bar by a female, they were drunk, I wasn’t. I was hugging everyone goodbye and all of a sudden someone had their hands up under my top groping me. It was quick, it was stealth, and I froze and freaked out like I always do. I didn’t tell anyone and I acted as if nothing had happened. I wish I could have turned around and said something. The situation was made worse by the fact that the females partner was right there as well saying goodbye in the group.
Whilst visiting an exclusive night club in Brunswick, a place I had been to many times before and I felt safe in. I was still using male toilets at that stage and I was subjected to several young men trying push the cubicle door open and jump up over the top of the cubicle to see what was between my legs. They were taunting me the whole time. It was scary and I was in an extremely vulnerable position. Luckily they got bored pretty quickly and the whole incident was over in about a minute. I pulled myself together, finished and got out of there. I told no-one and pretended that nothing had happened.
The worst thing that has happened to me so far, was being made to feel extremely uncomfortable and fearful for my safety in my own home.
I was home with one of my male housemates. This was after months of him continually locking me out of the house when I was in my backyard studio. He claimed forgetfulness but it clearly wasn’t.
I was cooking dinner, chopping up onions, when I just happened to turn around. I got quite a fright as my housemate was standing right behind me with some black cloth in his hands. He saw the huge knife in my hands, did a quick about-face and took off to his room. I stood there for a few seconds and took in what had just happened, whilst riding this huge wave of adrenaline. I put the knife down slowly and for a second I thought about following him and asking him WTF was going on. Everything in my body screamed at me to get out of the house. My other house mates were all away for the weekend. I felt sick. I didn’t feel safe and I didn’t feel like confronting him about it by myself. I turned off the gas stove, calmly picked up my car keys and bag and got out the front door as quickly as I could. I was terrified. I jumped in my car and headed for my friends. About half an hour later on an encrypted message service he messages me asking whats up. I’m like why send it on that and not a normal txt or call ? Creepy transphobic white cis male.
I felt no one really believed me and they thought I was flipping out. This is usually why I don’t tell people when things happen to me.
Lastly at some point during the year someone got access to my social media accounts. They didn’t do anything, they just had access to my account and were checking it regularly from places I wasn’t. When is discovered it I just shut down everything. I now see them in a very different light. Someone had access to 9 years of my life, 9 years of very personal emails and photos.
Nearly every time one of these things has occurred I have kept it to myself. When I have told some people, I have been questioned and shamed into the notion that I made it up or that I was imagining things. I kept thinking to myself that I’m making something big out of something little. That they were drunk and I should forget it, that it’s just stupid drunk stuff. Or that I had somehow bought this onto myself from being who I was.
Then slowly over time, the more I thought about it the more angry I became. If it had been a binary cis-woman who had these things happen, then the response from people would have been quite different. There’s no way people accept that type of behaviour, yet here I was in my first year of my journey experiencing this on several occasions.
I am managing to deal with these incidents now and they have changed me deeply. I no longer go out alone and am very wary of new people in my life now. I make sure I know people really well before I live with them. I am extremely wary of social media now.
It hasn’t weakened me, it’s just made me more resilient.
I never reported these incidents. I’m familiar with how the system works and I’m not keen on it.
I wonder how many other assaults and invasions of privacy that occur to Trans/gender diverse people go unreported. I think it would be a lot, I know of one instance where people were being violently and physically assaulted for being trans in broad daylight out the front of a Woolworth’s. The police were called and didn’t respond. More shocking than that to me, was that no-one helped them, there were plenty of people around and no-one rushed into help. No-one even called the Triple 0.
There is little trust in the police force or the general public to protect or help us if we are in danger.
The stigma around Trans/gender diverse needs to stop. We are people. We bleed, we love, we are humans just like you.
Along with all this I have noticed for sometime I have been excluded from things with people whom I thought were old friends. It seems people I have known really well for over 15 years no longer want me in their lives. They no longer respond to emails or texts. I no longer get invited to things. Someone even saw me out in public and they pretended they didn’t recognise me.
All this because I present to them as whom I truly am now.
If my existence is an affront to them that’s their problem.
I don’t need other people’s acceptance. I accept and love myself for whom I am and the authentic life I am leading.
Understanding my vulnerability has been an important part of this evolution and my journey into becoming a trans woman. These experiences have made me wiser and so much stronger.
I wish that I didn’t have to have them. I shouldn’t have to, no-one should.
Education is they key, being visible and proud and the ability to always get back up and keep moving forwards no matter what the bigotry or hate filled people throw at us.
You lose a lot when you lose Male Privilege.
But you gain so much more and it’s the best thing about it.
Through these struggles I have become such a better person and as that person continues to grow, I know deep down in my heart that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The hardest path is often the right path and this is certainly true for me.