The Girl Gap

Does Hillary Rodham Clinton ever want to be a girl?

Ms. Clinton surely knows how to be a powerful woman, as First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State, and maybe even President.   She knows how to take power in the world.

But does she ever want to be a girl?  You know, as in one of the girls, letting her hair down and sharing girlish things like fashion and gossip with her girlfriends?  Or maybe in being someone’s girl, having private time with a lover, a partner who sees and affirms her as their girl?

I suspect that she does.   I suspect affirming girlhood is still something she needs or wants at least a little bit of in her life.

Now, I also suspect she doesn’t get a lot of girl time, especially when she has a big job.   After all, power, whatever our approach, is mostly a matter of service.  To be the leader is to be the leader, and even if our approach is shaped by our feminine nature, leadership isn’t mostly a gendered thing.

But Ms. Clinton owns her own girlhood.   She has rich experience of being a daughter, a gal pal, a girlfriend, a wife, and a mother.   She owns those pieces of her life.  She remembers getting dressed for dates, flirting, dishing with the gals, all those experiences in a profound and deep way, so she can get back there with confidence in a moment.

“The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been,” said Madeleine L’Engle.  “And all the other genders!” added Kate Bornstein, when she heard that quote.

It’s not hard for me to be one of the smartest people in the room.   “Too smart for the room!” TBB reminded me, when I spoke to her.

“Why can’t I both be too smart and too cute?” I asked her

“You only get one or the other, I’m afraid,” she replied.

There are many reasons to see me as not cute.   I’m old, big, smart, born male, and have a powerful ownership of my own voice.

I know that many women who have similar characteristics won’t be seen as cute either.   They will be imposing and challenging to others in the room, smart and sharp, mature and potent.

But the big difference between them and me is that they don’t have a girl gap.   They own their own girlhood in a profound way.  Girl is a part of their history, always something they will own.     It is a part of their confidence, their expression, their gestalt.

Not for me, though.  Somehow, owning girl is something that is hard to do if you come to womanhood late in life, and you love women, and people see you as being male bodied.

I was in an improvisation class last night.  We talked a lot about management approaches and how they mapped with improvisational comedy skills of being present in the moment, affirming the situation and the people in it, adding value, embracing failure, and accepting offers.

I was so smart and potent that a gay mathematician came up to me after the session and announced he wanted to work for me.   He was serious; his job teaching math in a city middle school is grinding and while he knows it is valuable work, it’s not fulfilling him.  He assumed that I must have power and position in a tech company somewhere, someplace I could help him find a job.

Hard to tell him the biggest thing I have done in the past year was to learn to disempact my father’s bowels.

But he saw me as powerful, competent, all that.

I was such a power in the room last night that the teacher, a man I have spent over two hours talking to about the challenges of being out and transgender, decided to  say “Yes, sir” to me when accepting an offer.

He then compounded the problem by getting flustered and over correcting, marking my transgender status for the room.

Now it was out there anyway.  The one other woman there for the “self-improvement” class (there were eight experienced improvisers sitting in to give the class body) really didn’t know what to make of me, how to access me.

That’s the positive way of explaining her connection with me.  The less positive way was that she was scared of me, but that may be going too far.

I wasn’t comfortable in the class.   I don’t live in my body the way most people do, for many reasons, and improv comedy is very much about physicalization.   As a television person, I like to improvise within structures.   For me, my slow thinker, the androgynous analyst,  doesn’t identify the point of going out and taking the spotlight if its just going to get me crap.

And in the class, I was smart and powerful, but I was not, in no way shape or form, the girl.   It just affirmed that I can be a smart transperson in a room, but that will not help fill the gaps I feel from a life of stigma and denial.  It again made me feel third gendered out, stuck in a box, negotiating power.

It’s all well and good to be a guru past gender, beyond human norms, just the same as it’s all well and good to be one of the most powerful people in the world beyond the conventions and limits of gender.

But that girl gap gets me every time.  I don’t have even a small circle of girlfriends, don’t have a partner, even one whose energy moves a bit, don’t have a daughter, don’t have so much of that support system where I can just, for a moment, be a sweet girl, a funny girl, a pretty girl, a silly girl, a sad girl, a needy girl, a girl.

In so many ways, power in the world is beyond gender.   It is about personal potency transcending convention.

But to be beyond gender just feels unpleasantly androgynous and unsupported for me, a long-lost, lonely tranny.

That girl gap gets me everytime.