Sunday, 15 December 2013

What it means to grow up seen as a girl.

Trigger warning for discussion of trans issues, privilege, sexual assault and socialisation.

Being seen as a girl, it affects people. While strides have been made in getting trans children to be able to transition earlier and grow up as their actual gender? There still seems to be an old guard of late transitioning Trans women who really really do not get what it is like to grow up seen as being a girl.

They can endlessly explain how trans misogyny affects their lives since they came out, but yet not even consider that growing up under the shadow of being seen as a girl distorts adult FAAB people's view of themselves. They dismiss the notion that such a thing exists because TERFS misuse the concept and because they just plain don't get it or the psychological impact of a from birth interpersonal message of fear and pressure to conform that comes with society seeing you as a girl.

To give an example. I knew a trans femme growing up, they were my babysitter. They never got the gross comments I did. Nobody called them a slut and a whore at eight for wearing shorts, because they were seen as a boy and perceived boys for the most part don't get called sluts and whores. Creepy old men don't openly talk about how they want to rape perceived boys, they do when it comes to perceived girls. That trans femme also would steal my clothing and waltz around the house in relative safety with nobody looking up their skirts, meanwhile I had boys trying to rape me.

They would ask me questions about my genitals and body, intrusive, discomforting questions for a child who at the time hadn't even hit puberty. They tried to peep at me on a regular basis, try dealing with that AND gender disphoria on top of everything else, I was trying very hard not to think about how wrong my body was and that person endlessly reminded me that they and everyone else saw me as a girl and were going to treat me as one, which meant treating my body as public property that they were entitled to examine. At one point they even tried to climb into bed with me and explore my body because they "wanted to know how vaginas felt", I was ten. So yes, if I'm a little prickly about Trans women telling everyone that doesn't happen, that is fucking why. That person demonstrated pure entitlement to my body. They didn't even seem to comprehend that I existed as anything other than as a thing for them to examine.

And that really is the basis of the difference, individuals who do not grow up seen as women don't get the same interpersonal messages from those around them. They don't live a life in which their formative years are filled with a bombardment of "comply", "Be lady like", "you come dead last", "your anger is inappropriate/not to be taken seriously". Those of us seen as girls are told from birth we should be the background, not the character. It affects us, it trains us to be soft and small, to constantly apologise for daring to draw breath. This is female socialisation, it is the messages your family and culture teaches you in person because it sees you as a girl growing up, it is the constantly policing of your body, your voice, how you look, how much space you take up and your right to even exist by those directly around you. It is a constant message of "you are a servant to others, not the master of yourself". It is a childhood interpersonal message exclusively given to those who are viewed in childhood as female by others, including trans women who are raised as women. In short, it's a litany that for FAAB people starts up the minute the doctor says "congratulations, it's a girl".

As for male socialisation? We know it by another term, toxic masculinity. It's being treated as if message that the world is yours simply because the world see's you as a boy. It's having your right to exist affirmed by those around you from the moment you're born. It doesn't matter if you're not a boy, so long as the world see's you as one? It thinks you have a right to exist front and center and will treat you as such. Does it change that trans people often get shit for being GNC? Nope, but the shit trans women get for not conforming to male gender stereotypes while being seen as a male isn't the same as being seen as a woman.

Being seen as a woman growing up is to be constantly undermined by those around you based on nothing more than your perceived gender. Being perceived as a boy, even a GNC one i still being seen as a boy and comes with affirmation, even when your life really sucks.

So what's the answer? Well it's not pretending that people don't treat people differently depending on their perceived gender.

It's tackling the barriers that stop trans children from coming out, and transitioning. It's tackling the toxic interpersonal messages that society sends children depending on their perceived gender. It's raising new generations who grow up surrounded by people who deliver the same message of affirmation, belonging and respect no matter what gender they think those children are.

It's talking about how we stereotype gender, assign gender to people at birth and then police them to fit them into a notion of gender nobody can or even should fit into. It's talking about the difference between being raised as a trans identified individual and coming out as one as an adult. It's about not letting TERFS dictate our stance by taking up the other extreme from them. They claim we're rapists? The response should be pointing out how few trans rapists actually exist compared to cis male rapists, not claiming we don't have any and erasing the victims of the handful of trans rapists.

Gender is more than what is in our pants, it's in our heads, and it's also in how society views us.

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