“Welcome to woman,” PerformanceGal told me, “Welcome to crazy.”
I have never understood transpeople who want a day where men can wear women’s clothes without any concern. They imagine boys competing in beauty pageants, or bosses forcing men to wear women’s clothes to work, and never consider the way that changes society.
Nobody embraces womanhood because it is interchangeable with manhood. The system of gender just would never work if most people didn’t wilfully gender themselves, choosing to become men or women because they liked what the gender role entailed, or liked the perks that came with the role. Gender expression is like any other kind of expression, allowing us to show our skills and our essence in the world inside of a context of class, heritage and community.
We gender ourselves, mostly, because we love expressing ourselves in the world. Little girls don’t love pink because they were told to do so, or because their friends love pink, they just love what it represents in the world and want to connect with that meaning. Women don’t go to chick flicks because they have to do so, rather the ones who go love a good, emotional story with a happy ending.
We love gender because we love gender expression. Most people even love contrasting gender expression, wanting the heat of difference in relationship. The sizzle in relationship when opposites attract is the basis for most recorded human romance, even if we can always point out exceptions.
If a male wants to win a beauty pageant for women, don’t they want to identify as a woman? Don’t they want to delight in mastering the choices of a woman, even down to femaling their body? If a boss wants women in the workplace, why would she want men in dresses instead?
I remember when I first came out as trans. My goal was rational expression. I wanted my brain to stay in control, which is why I never identified as a crossdresser, but rather as a guy in a dress searching for integration, balance and androgyny. I hated the crossdresser model of “Now I’m Biff! Now I’m Suzy!” finding the pendulum swings involved disconcerting and unconvincing, so I wanted a model that would help me find a centre.
There was one big problem with the rational approach, though.
A friend called me while I was getting dressed to go out on a Saturday night and I couldn’t really speak well to them.
“What are you?” she demanded “In some kind of a fugue state?”
Yeah, well, there was that. Like any woman who spends days in sensible and appropriate clothes but who still picks up high fashion magazines to fall into the highly stylized looks, well, I love gender and its expression. I may not be able to wear those platform heels anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to.
ShamanGal was worried that a friend’s husband would see her as being crazy. I laughed.
“What is the one thing that every man knows about women,” I asked.
PerformanceGal knew the answer immediately, having grown up female. “They know that chicks are crazy!” she laughed. “Welcome to woman, welcome to crazy!”
Ray Blanchard, Gender Tsar of the Clarke in Toronto, once wrote a treatise shooting down crossdressers. “They say they wear women’s clothes because they make them feel more comfortable,” he razzed. “Well, that’s crazy! Look at the shoes, the undergarments, the makeup and such! Who could be comfortable in those clothes?”
Women can, of course. Oh, not physically comfortable, maybe, but comfortable internally, knowing they are expressing their nature, expressing their status, and showing themselves as attractive in the world.
Are women crazy for making the choices of women? Well, most men think so, and many women wouldn’t disagree with that assessment.
So why do we women make the choices we make, even the choices some see as crazy?
Because we love them, that’s why. We love to look great, love to flirt, love a bit of drama, love love, all that.
When transwomen try to stay sensible, rational and appropriate in their choices, they usually succeed in moving away from manhood, succeed in being not men after having been raised as men.
To embrace womanhood, though, even to embrace it and move beyond it to not woman, we have to be able to embrace the emotional, the passionate, the loving, the crazy. Holding onto rationality means we can’t really embrace our own crazy, beautiful and shimmering femininity. Femmes are the ones who wiggle, and wiggling doesn’t come from sensible and considered deliberation.
Guys know this. Almost every one of them has felt the pull of a crazy gal, one so passionate and luscious that they wanted to be with her just to feel the feminine energy. Some guys love the crazy so much that they make it a habit, just like some gals are only moved by bad boys.
The idea that the only way to be trans in the world is to be deliberate and measured, rejecting gender to find some sort of queer identity seems to miss the point for me. I, like so many other women, love gender. Gender expression turns me on, and the dance of gender brings out the best in most people, finding both the warmth of connected humans and the heat of bold individuals sparking together.
A world past gender doesn’t interest me. As Emma Goldman said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” Don’t drag me into your own view of the world, your own limits or projections.
To me, gender expression has meaning. And if some of it means “I love pretty!” well, that’s just fine with me. Let women own their beauty, passion and femininity before demanding they also own their rationality, brains and leadership, let us own womenhood before having to also own our not womanhood, our simple, shared and strong humanity.
Humans are all human. There is one human nature and we all share it. That means, though, that we all share some crazy, too.
“Welcome to woman. Welcome to crazy.”