The second part of this three-part post is really all about the physical side of the following statement that I was sure I just came up with, but it sounds really familiar, so perhaps someone else actually coined it first. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
To date a trans woman, is merely to date a woman, and that is just to date another human being.
Pretty [Average] Woman
Every woman I know is subject to unwelcome scrutiny when it comes to her appearance.
For a woman like me, that same scrutiny exists, but with an additional layer on top. Hands are one of the first things people gawk at when hearing the news that I’ve transitioned to female form. Mine are fairly average and slender, meaning I sit within the hand size norms for a cisgender woman. Time for a fun, handy fact!
During film school we did an exercise where we went around shaking the hands of our classmates. We then formed a circle, and each took turns being blindfolded. The blindfolded person had to work around the circle and guess who everyone was, based purely on touching their hands. 100% of the students guessed me as one of my female classmates; they knew they were touching female hands, but didn’t yet know that I was female.
My feet are slightly smaller and daintier than the average woman of my height, though I wear Doc Martens everywhere, giving the appearance of slightly larger feet when I’m not nude. With my overall shape, again I’m average for a woman, somewhere between pear and hourglass in that I’m widest at my hips and smallest at my waist, but around the chest area it depends on how much body weight I have at the time of measurement. The breasts that I grew myself (not that it is anybody’s business) have varied a lot over the years, as my weight has fluctuated, and I have aged. Probably, they’re just a little perkier than the average woman my age, because they developed a few years later than most.
With regard to other things like body hair, again, I’m overwhelmingly average, with or without taking my specific mix of ancestral lines into account.
What does all this mean? There are many cisgender women with bigger hands and feet, with far more body hair, smaller hips, and broader shoulders. None of these less feminine cisgender women are more female than me, nor should they be considered less female. This is just the diversity that exists under the umbrella term “woman”. I guess, in a way, I am just lucky that I was born with a body that was ready for stealthy transition to female as a young adult.
So very lucky.
The Unsealed Section
Many men have tried to convince me that they don’t need to use a condom with me, because there’s no risk of pregnancy if we have sexual intercourse. Some of those probably knew what they were doing, but for the naïve few, my God, if you’re going to have a sex life please educate yourself. Condoms are not just to prevent pregnancy! That said, in a long term monogamous relationship, I personally prefer my partner to go without because things tend to work a little easier and feel a little better when there isn’t that artificial barrier.
Since we’re down here…
If you closely examine my vulva as well as the vulvas of nine cisgender women, you would notice some differences between all ten. Whether or not you could tell which one was made on an operating table, I don’t know. Maybe. I guess it would depend on who the other nine belonged to (I’ve seen a few variations in my time). The differences between theirs and mine certainly aren’t enough to cause someone to change from “this is genitalia I want to engage with” to “this is genitalia I do not wish to engage with”.
Then there’s function, which is what people always seem to be curious about.
A combination of reading and real life experience has led me to the conclusion that my function is standard for a woman, and you can skip to the next section if you don’t want more detail.
I was overjoyed when I was able to confirm that the surgery hadn’t left me with urinary incontinence, which was one of many possible side effects I deemed worth it. A good few months following surgery I worked out that I was able to reach climax (on my own). And it was surprising when I realised I was able to engage in sexual intercourse without assistance… sometimes, with some people. The seamlessness and requirement of things like lubricant have differed with every partner. This seems to have had more to do with level of attraction, age, number of previous partners, and technique. Things that could affect cisgender women. It’s rarely been anything trans-specific.
Let’s forget for a moment that I never select trans as a gender option on a form unless there’s a medical reason to. In most cases I tick either woman or female because I usually don’t want or feel the need to differentiate myself from cisgender women. I never considered myself a boy, nor was I a young man. I was a girl with a male body, then a woman, and eventually I was able to adapt my outer shell to reflect me as I am now. The label trans has never felt right for me in part because my identity never changed.
When it comes to online dating, I avoid those tick boxes for a whole other reason.
It all goes back to fiction.
Mainstream audiences see nothing but trans sex jokes, offensive trans clichés, and pornographic trans tropes. Do you remember that sweet love story about the man who fell in love with the woman who was assigned male at birth? No, of course you don’t. That is unless you’ve read my books that included a few romances from my own life, or you’ve seen or read something in a subsection within queer media. Although these beautiful romances exist in real life, they’re not really showcased in works of fiction. Especially not in the mainstream where heterosexual trans people often live their lives.
Unless someone has been friends with or had a relationship with a trans person, they’ve little more to go off than the awful misrepresentation in mainstream media.
Not Your Exotic Fetish
When someone with no real experience approaches me because they’re seeking out a trans person, it’s almost always because they’ve seen some kinky porn and figure that I will be just like that. Or (and this is equally incorrect) that I’ll be super feminine and submissive because I’m overcompensating for my birth sex. Typically, these people want to sneak around with me in the dark, and do not respect me as a person at all. It took me far too long to realise that there are a lot of people who will gladly have sex with me, as long as nobody else knows about it. Screw them, but not in the fun way.
What I’ve found, is that romance works much better for me with someone who realises they are interested in me before they know of my gender history. With those, back in the day after we had the talk and worked through any confusion or concerns, we were able to slip under the radar as a normal cisgender couple. Back then, there was rarely any reason for us to disclose my past to anyone in their social circle. These days, though, dating me is a bigger commitment because I no longer hide in the shadows allowing the assumption that I am a cisgender woman…
This seems like a great place to abruptly stop and mention that Part Three can be found here.
The background story of this post has been included in My Life Most Memoirable. Memoirable tells of Paige Krystal Wilcox’s emergence from a socially anxious girl trapped in a male body, into a strong, self-assured, successful woman and social butterfly… and beyond.