“More Woman than a Cis-Woman”
“How cliché!” said my friend. “I can hardly believe he said that!” My girlfriend was sharing something my boyfriend told her about me as we sat having a glass of wine at a local winery. “Ha Ha, yeah!” I said pretending that it was cliché to me too. Not that I hadn’t heard that phrase before. Perhaps I never believed it because it was said to me by men at Gay bars before I transitioned.
Hearing this phrase made me examine it in my mind. What did my boyfriend mean by “More woman than a Cis-Woman?” Fortunately, the person he said it to is a close friend who knows my history. She’s an ally and definitely has my back. She wasn’t judging me for it, but it did make me consider how a cisgender woman might feel about such a phrase. It gets down into that “feminine enough” or “too butch” problem. That’s a slippery slope, to say the least. My boyfriend is a fairly conscious guy and isn’t generally one to be caught uttering such an obvious, sexist cliché. I wasn’t upset with him for saying it. In truth, a small part of me cheered.
I cheered because that has sort of been my goal. I had hoped that a man would appreciate me as the feminine person that I am. I hoped he wouldn’t find me lacking in some way. Some small detail that I couldn’t help or have overlooked. My goal was to be myself, but in all honesty, I want a man to find me as attractive as any woman that he could potentially be with. I don’t want anyone to feel they are settling for something less. It’s not about me being better than a Cis-woman, I just don’t want to feel less than one.
The other day my boyfriend walked up to me and put his arms around me. He pulled me in close and said, “You’re an amazing creature.” The word, “creature” of course stuck out to me. Even though, I sometimes think of myself as an exotic “creature,” I wasn’t sure what he meant. He quickly apologized and clarified. “ I mean you’re 100% woman to me, but I know you’ve been through a lot to get here.” That landed a bit better for me. I don’t want to be the hyper-sensitive partner, always looking for ways my boyfriend or the world are slighting me. I tend to try and feel the intent of a person’s words. I can usually tell when they’re meant with malice or not. When my sister-in-law said, “if you wanted men to take you seriously maybe you shouldn’t have dyed your hair blonde and gotten such big boobs.” That one was clear. I chalked it up under “jealousy.”
I suppose in the end it all comes down to intention. What was my boyfriend’s intention when he made this comment? I believe he said it as a way to tell my girlfriend that he is happy with me as a partner. Perhaps she asked him how things are going. Maybe she wondered how he felt about being with a Trans-woman? In that context, it could be viewed as a way of him defending me and our relationship. Not that he was under attack. He just wanted my girlfriend to be clear that he didn’t feel that I am less than any other woman. He wanted to lay that idea to rest. Perhaps in that case his cliché is excusable. It works for me!