Monday, April 30, 2007
May 2007 TransGriot Column
Genetic Women and Transwomen: Can We Be Friends?
Copyright 2007, THE LETTER
I’ve done a lot of thinking about the undercurrent of tension between genetic women and transwomen. I posted the following set of questions on the Net a few weeks ago to discover if it were possible to overcome the hostility and form healthy friendships with each other.
1-What do we transwomen need to bring to the table to make friendships between us and genetic women work successfully?
2-What do genetic women need to do to make it work?
3-What in your opinion are the mistakes that both parties make that create barriers to forming healthy friendships and what can be done to avoid them?
4-What are the advantages/disadvantages to both parties in cultivating friendships with the other?
Thanks to transwomen Joann, Traci, Lexi and Angelica and biowomen Audrea and Jazz for consenting to express their thoughts on this subject. It’s deeply appreciated.
The consensus of both sides to Question 1 was that transwomen simply need to be themselves and be open and honest about their status.
Audrea stated, “I feel that communication and honesty are important parts of any friendship; regardless of the friends' appearances or backgrounds. Personally, I feel that transwomen and genetic women are the same essentially, and they should all be treated as such. Some women may feel threatened or resentment towards transwomen, but those feelings are based on fear and ignorance. These things have no place in a true friendship.
The consensus on both sides concerning Question 2 was that education was the answer
“I think genetic women should just be open to getting to know transwomen,“ said Jazz.
Joann agreed. “I think many need to learn the truth about what transgendered women are and are not. It’s time to let a lot those old misconceptions about us go.”
The panelist’s thoughts about Question 3 were that insecurities on both sides and lack of respect for one another led to the condescending comments and disagreements that inflames tensions between the two groups.
"I think if some of us were honest, I believe on both the side of genetic women and the side of transsexual women there is an element of intimidation. Women who are around beautiful transsexuals compare themselves by thinking "I'm a real woman, and I don't look like that." or "I'm a real woman, you're just pretending to be one." And as transsexuals we sometimes are intimidated believing that they are indeed "real" women and we are not. So sometimes we over compensate for the things we believe we lack in being a "real" woman,” said Angelica.
Question 4 had both groups seeing having the other as friends being a plus.
“They should comprehend the fact that we can be very formidable allies when it comes to deciphering the male ego. They should also know how deeply we desire to bond with them as the true sisters that we all need to be,” said Traci.
As for the negatives, the transwomen expressed concerns that the insecurities of both groups would rear their ugly heads or that their genetic female friend would be mistaken for a transwoman once they start hanging with the genetic woman on a consistent basis.
“I have to say that I think the issue in relationships between transwomen and natal women is multi-dimensional. I think Angelica said it best when she wrote about the insecurities that both sets of women feel around the other. So, in my opinion, that is the first and probably biggest factor,” said Lexi.
So in closing, there appears to be willingness on both sides to keep open minds and get to know each other.
Said Audrea, “I say that the more diversity one is exposed to, the better. I don't see any disadvantages developing when involved in an open, adult friendship. I appreciate my transwomen and men friends just as much as my genetic friends. When choosing friends what gender one is should make no difference. I'm happy to say, for me it's a non-issue.
TransGriot note: This article triggered a series of blog posts on the subject.