Warrant Women

In the military, you can earn officer’s status by being commissioned, after a course of training, like an academy.

There are other classes of officers, though.  For example, war correspondents were given the assimilated rank of captain, so they could get the benefits of officers.

Warrant officers are officers of convenience.  They have a required technical skill — piloting helicopters is the classic example — so they are given the rank of officer without actually being in the line of command.   They are useful and valued, so they are granted the courtesies granted to officers — like going to the officer’s club — but aren’t really genuine officers.

Is this the best that transwomen can expect, being made warrant women, held on the books as women, but not really having standing in the chain as women?

Will we be allowed to wear the uniform, get the courtesies and even a salute now and then, but no one is going to respect our orders, knowing we aren’t real women?   Do we get indulged in our expression, but only respected as technicians with specific skills?

How do we have standing in the world if we are always seen as guests rather than compatriots, others who can be turned out at any time if our choices disquiet any of the group?   Learning silence to placate those who see themselves as our hosts means that we are always trying not to be denied the assimilated rank we have struggled so hard to earn,

Of course, not everyone is going to respect our warrant cards.  Some will still see us as frauds, cracked in the head and asserting utter nonsense, if not actual sickness and sin, violating the laws and traditions of God and civilization.

But at least the world is much easier for transpeople than when I was a kid, where there were very, very few who would even be gracious and understanding, let alone say they support trans expression.

It can be argued that being a warrant woman should be accepted as a great gift from society, because it gives you a standing that allows you to make connections with others, who, may be able to engage you as an individual who makes feminine choices.   After all, transgender is about being a unique individual, not a group member, right?

And maybe, warrant women are the ones who help make space for transkids who might be able to achieve a more full welcome to womanhood.

Being a warrant woman, though, is always uncomfortable.   It is not the stuff of dreams, rather it is the choice of pragmatism.  It is a provisional designation, leaving us on our uppers.

It means we have to always be circumspect, ready to have our standing ripped away from us for infractions in crossing boundaries in people’s heads that are neither clear nor rational.   We need to remember that the defence of gender act can be invoked without warning or cause, because our womanhood is only granted by warrant, seen by many as a courtesy designation.

Is being a warrant woman enough?   That’s the challenge every transwoman has to ask themselves.  While it is a very charged option, well, the other options can be even more final.

4 thoughts on “Warrant Women”

  1. Callan,

    There are people born into the world as female who also never receive the full rights and privileges of being a woman. As you said they are given all the rights and privileges, but typically they are dismissed from woman’s circles. Sadly, this typically occurs because of appearance and dress. For example, a woman could be overweight, too tall, or dress in very masculine clothing wearing no makeup with a funky short haircut. Many people born female reject the idea of being a woman and prefer to exist in an androgynous or masculine roll. This is why so many in our community are interested in “Passing”. They believe passing will give them better access to being accepted as woman. There is some truth to this. Those who transitioned early in life or who were born with very feminine feature seem to assimilate into womanhood with greater ease. Some have married, raised children and have lived lives equal to that of any person born female.

    For those of us who are not so passable, the reality hits hard that in at least today’s society, we will be measured up against a stereotype of what a woman is. In the 50’s it was Donna Reed and June Cleaver. Today, it’s actually worse. The standards for woman’s appearance are much higher due to fashion magazines and advertisements, making it much even harder for the trans community to live up.

    So I guess the answer to your question is yes, for many of us, we will be considered warrant woman. That is if we are competing with people who were born with all the right parts, have educated themselves in womanhood and are champions in playing the game. If we choose instead to be the best person we can be (yes, an authentic transwoman), I have found that not only am I granted all the rights and privileges of womanhood, but also the respect given to someone who chose the hard road in order to be real.

    In short, I believe living as an out Transwoman can be rewarding, fulfilling, and every bit as accepted as a woman born female.

    One more point. It is difficult to group the opinions of humanity. No one will ever be accepted as one thing or the other by Humanity. Humanity does not make opinion or policy. Individuals do. If a majority of people have decided to show you respect, equality, and privilege it does not mean humanity has done so, because there will always be individuals to hold you back. The African-American community knows this, as does the feminist community, as do all minority communities. I think we have made great strides in this world with regard to being accepted as people who have something to offer. Is there more work to do. Of Course. We are certainly not there yet.

    I also know you know all this. What I believe I keep hearing is that if you will not be allowed to present and be accepted as a woman, you will not allow yourself to transition. What I have found is presenting authentically (an out transwoman) has its own set of rewards.

    What is funny and sad at the same time is that you were the one who helped me realize this over the last 10 years. You taught me to trust myself and be authentic and you were right. It worked. I am confused why we now see things so differently.

    Love and Respect,

    Sabrina (TBB)

    1. What you are hearing, I suggest, is me making my own peace with the role of out and transwoman in this society, and sharing that process on the blog.

      I understand the way that the system of gender works, how it uses the stick of peer pressure and the reward of connection to try and force people to act in a more approved way. Adolescents often feel that if they were just more female — with bigger breasts, better hair, whatever — or more male — with better looks and body — that their life would be better and easier. It’s the old trope; “If only I could have this one thing, my life would be perfect.” It’s a lie, of course. Every person struggles with gendering pressure, to be a better man or a better woman so they can try and get the promised reward.

      The lovely thing, though, is that no matter how scruffy a female bodied person looks, no matter how badly she performs womanhood, being a woman isn’t something that can be taken away from her. In a heterosexist, binary gender system that assigns compulsory gender based on birth genital configuration, your position is fixed with your biology, even if you aren’t particularly good at doing gender in the most approved and admired way.

      Your point, that living as a transwoman brings its own rewards, that it can be fulfilling and rewarding in its own way, is certainly correct. I know many transwomen who have made great lives for themselves within the constraints of being seen as trans in the world. And I know that they are often highly valued for their contributions. Like any good warrant officer, they have their specialty, and they can do well there.

      The rewards, though, for being visible and trans while walking through the world are not rewards that I experience in my daily life. I know how to walk through the wider world being invisible and trans, how to make that work. And I know how to be visible on the internet as trans, as eight years of this blog clearly show.

      My current struggle has nothing to do with wanting to be inauthentic or even to be hidden. I;m not sure I could be inauthentic if I tried. Rather, my struggle has to do with my role as an out and visible transperson in the world.

      For me, transition is a loaded word, burdened with the binary idea that you are one or the other. It is emergence that is my challenge. How best do I get what I need in the world, which includes giving what I have to the world.

      You know that I always report on my full experience, the challenges and the rewards, and right now, the rewards are looking thin. Does that mean I should decide there won’t be any? No, it may mean that I need to go deeper, try something new.

      I’m too old and too out for a reward to be wearing a skirt to Walmart, or hearing someone call me “Ma’am.” The thrill of expression isn’t as thrilling when you are old and your feet have turned against you.

      So what are the rewards I can find? Where do the joys, the lifts, the blessings and the wins come?

      This is the struggle I have now.

      And I do very much appreciate your support in it.


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