I love being a girl, I’ve never wanted to be anything else and I know that makes me lucky. I have never known the emotional struggle of not feeling comfortable in my own body, of having to make others understand that my gender identity is not the one I was assigned at birth. I know nothing of it. How could I? It’s not something I have experienced. My brother is gay and our parents were extremely and openly homophobic. We hated it, but given my stepfathers abuse it wasn’t easy to speak out when I lived at home. After I left home, my brothers and I would speak out against their attitudes, and it was only when my brother ‘came out’ to them that they changed their rhetoric. Growing up in the 70s I had fine hair and my mum kept it cut so short I was often called ‘son’ and referred to as a boy, which drove me nuts. It could have something to do with climbing trees of course, but still, I enjoyed being a girl.
Of course, that feeling, of being a girl as I describe it, is a subjective thing. Gender is the social construct of generations and history. But, in my case, I do conform to those historical tropes. The things my mum, and grandmother and aunts told me meant I was a girl. I love wearing dresses and pretty shoes. I like pretty things and knitting/crochet. I love having my hair brushed. I dance and giggle. I don’t like getting dirty anymore and I like sitting on Mr H knee and the way that makes me feel small and protected. I am heterosexual and love my husband. I am only aroused by heterosexual activities, because that is my sexual preference, and I use the female terms for my genitals. But you do not have to agree with my definitions. Not at all. Everyone of us has the ability to define themselves. The world is finally coming to a place of true equality and acceptance. I don’t think it is quite there yet, but it isn’t far away.
Get it right.
The way it drove me nuts when people referred to me as a boy, I can empathise to some degree with those who feel their gender does not match their biology. I imagine it takes some bravery and self awareness to complete the steps that have been deemed necessary by medical professionals before a surgery can take place, (if they decide to make that change) the hormone treatments and counselling. It must be frustrating to have to jump through these hoops when all you want to do is look on the outside how you feel on the inside. Although I am also aware that not all opt for surgery, but the lady I am going to talk about here did.
I met Claire (not her real name) when I was 21 and at college. I was having electrolysis on my eyebrows to stop them meeting in the middle (bye bye unibrow) and she was having her facial hair removed. Every Friday at 11am we would both arrive for our appointments at the beauty school. We had our treatments done by students as it was really cheap and she had been going for a few years. Treatments lasted 20 mins and they basically removed as many hairs as they could, one hair at a time, destroying the blood supply to the follicle so that the hair would not grow back, during that time. We would leave with the treated area bright red, and as it took 20 treatments to sort out my eyebrows, I hate to think how many years she would have a head of her to achieve her goal – to remove all her facial hair. Looking back she was the first transgender person I encountered, and was aware of, but I didn’t treat her any differently because of this, although I had some curiosity which she always encouraged and answered any questions I had with the understanding that, she could ask me a similar question in return, and she reserved the right to say no, that’s too personal, although she never did. My fondest memory of her is as she got off the treatment tables each week. I am short and had to be helped down, she was probably 5′ 10” and would slip her feet into her shoes, smooth her skirt and say, ” I love being a woman,” as she flicked her hair back over her shoulders.
During our appointments we would chat and it was clear that Claire was lonely. It was 1995 and she told me about some truly awful experiences; being laughed at, treated abominably on buses, spat on, and refused service in shops. It broke my heart to see her treated in such a way, and at the same time I admired her strength and determination to be true to herself. I asked her once if she had always known she was in the wrong body. Claire replied that she had always felt something wasn’t right but didn’t know what for a long time. Each week I would look forward to seeing Claire at the appointments, she was knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. She was twenty years older than me and had lived as a man, unhappily for thirty odd years, been married and had children. They had not been able to accept her when she transitioned. At least they hadn’t back then. I always hoped that they would in time, as it was clear she loved her girls very much. When she stopped coming I missed her but she had never given me any contact information and I had no way of making sure she was ok. A few years later I saw her in the street, I was on a bus and couldn’t say hello but I felt better at the time because at least I knew she was ok.
The munches we attend are open to members of the LGBTQ communities as well as kink and I have again met with some wonderful people. The club is a safe space for people to be themselves and feel accepted. It’s a place they know they won’t be judged or ‘looked at’. We haven’t attended with any regularity because of my back and so I wouldn’t say I have any friends at the munch, but I also know that given more regular attendance I will have some very good friends there. Will they be CISgender persons only? I doubt it. Does it matter? No. When I meet people I do not look at them as an opportunity to diversify the way some employers have hired to fulfil diversity quotas. When I make friends it is with people who are kind and genuine, and their background (be it ethnic origin, sexual orientation or gender identity) just does not factor into it. I see people as people, everyone equal, no-one person more deserving or better than another, and I have always told my children the same thing.
I am me, you are you.
This all being said, I am a CISgender white european girl. I am acutely aware of the privilege that affords me, but it is not something I feel I should be ashamed of, or have to apologise for. I am me, you are you, and we are people. We are the same and yet we are unique. I truly believe that if we all respected each others right to individuality the world would be a happier place for everyone.
I love being a girl.
So where does this post come from? I watch Marvels Agent’s of Shield, a TV program and in a recent episode there was a really catchy song at the beginning. So catchy that I went off in search of it. It’s called God help the Girl. There is a link below to the youtube video, but this tune had me humming away, lifted my mood and I took a few pictures, because well – I felt like it, and created a slideshow of them and some old pictures, celebrating feeling like a girl and being alive!