Monday, July 29, 2013

A Mother-Trans Daughter Femininity Dinner Discussion

Some of the Facebook trans groups I'm a member of have very interesting discussion threads at times that eventually trigger hard solid thinking by me to turn it into a post.

This was the case two weeks ago when Lotus, a member of a predominately African-American trans Facebook group I'm on that prides itself on thoughtful discussions of trans issues talked about the night she recently had  dinner with her mother. 

Their dinner discussion turned into a mother-daughter chat that discussed femininity and the perception difference between cis and trans women.


Lotus:  Over dinner, my mother and I began an open discussion about the perception of natal females as it pertains to Transgender women. I wanted to bring some of the points that came up during the conversation to the group and see how you all felt about them.

My mother's main point in the conversation was that there is no one SET STANDARD that defines what it means to be a woman. Women come in all shapes, sizes, class levels, and intellectual capabilities; nonetheless they are a woman. With this in mind she inquired as to why someone would assume that all girls like us should strive to be more than the average neighborhood hood rat. As transwomen why is it not okay for us to be the kind of woman we feel most comfortable being (even if that's a "Ratchet Ass Hoe").

I explained to her that as transwomen we should aspire to be a compliment to womanhood not a detriment. Her counter argument was that women are detrimental to themselves so why should a woman in transition feel burdened by the pressure of complimenting womanhood?

We are individuals embarking on a unique journey into what many would perceive as the unknown. We all must make decisions as to who we would like to be, much like any other woman.

All things considered I believe that all points are valid when viewed from that person's perspective. I still stand steadfast by my belief that as a young woman in transition I want to make natal females proud to accept me as the woman that I am, but her perspective opened up another gateway for dialog about the representation of transgender women in society; how we chose to present ourselves.


That dinner conversation most certainly did open up a dialog in that group we gleefully began to discuss.  Our
trans elder Cheryl Courtney-Evans pointed out in the discussion thread that developed in the wake of Lotus' initial post:: 
I think that perhaps this concept may be simply explained by a sentence/attitude that accompanied the advance of the African American community in it's reach for parity with Whites..."You're a credit to your race." For many years that's what Blacks strove to be, in order to garner 'acceptance'.
Angel V. also pointed out:
When I started my transition, the last thing that was on my mind was acceptance from cis-women. As a matter of fact, the only acceptance that I will ever need is my own. You were not put on this planet to cater to everyone's wants and needs. None of us were. There are plenty of cis-women who will accept us and many who will not. Their opinions will not dictate or change who I am in any capacity.

That said, I like your mom, Lotus. She made some interesting points!! Some ladies will never strive to be better. Trans or otherwise.
What I would have said in response to Lotus' mom is I believe one of the reasons we Black trans women are so adamant about being considered compliments to Black womanhood is because after being stuck on the Black masculinity side where we were considered suspects and targets regardless of the content of our character, some of us don't want to fight that psychic battle again.

But what you come to realize is that Black women also have their own psychic battle they fight in which their femininity is demonized every day by whiteness and white supremacy.  They are depicted as the 'unwoman', 'ugly' and juxtaposed as the polar opposite to white women, who are held up as the penultimate form of feminine beauty and template of womanhood that women of non-white ethnic groups should aspire to be.

As Angel pointed out, some cis Black women don't care, do what they please, don't give a second thought about the historic and current images of Black women and never will. 

So why should we Black trans women care?   Because Black transwomen don't have the luxury to be that cavalier about the feminine images they project to the world.  We're already demonized, have few positive trans feminine role models to counteract the negative images already on the minds of people and fear that whatever negativity happens in our trans ranks will be unfairly projected back at cis African-American women.

But then again, trans women are damned if we do and damned if we don't live up to the standards of Black womanhood.   Even when we try to live our lives as complements to Black womanhood, we're demonized and hated on by many of those same cis Black women we desire sisterhood with and fell like that standarsd is a shifting goalpost. .

Cheryl basically dropped some more knowledge on us in this discussion with this sentence. 
Well, I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "Do you"...that's what you do; we must each do as we aspire...whatever that is.
She's right.  And I concur with her that's the point where we Black trans women need to be comfortable in our own minds of getting to.

As Lotus said in that thread, she wasn't aspiring to be hypersexualized by society, but some of her girls like us friends see that as their desired feminine presentation standard and set out to achieve it. 

In my case the elegant Diahann Carroll was one of my feminine role models along with my mother, sis and other cis and trans feminine role modes whose qualities I admired and wanted to role model in my feminine evolutionary path.  

Whatever type of woman we trans women are trying to project to the world, that's ultimately our decision.  Once we start down that path, we have to deal with whatever the consequences are of emulating the type of woman we wish to project to the world as we go through our lives.

But we transwomen also have to become comfortable with just simply being able to 'do you' and being allowed the space to 'do us' just like our cis feminine counterparts. 

TransGriot Note: Last graphic in the post created by Randi of TransMusePlanet.

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