I live my daily life as a sixty-year-old woman and the world treats me as such, but I realize daily how much I missed because I didn’t grow up as a cisgender woman. I am a parent and grandparent, but I constantly feel that I know less about children than my cisgender grandmother peers. To be fair, I also know things they don’t. My wisdom is a hybrid blend of both genders. But as a stealth Trans woman, I don’t really have any recognition for that.
What is the value, if any, to this hybrid wisdom? Who benefits from an awareness and understanding of both genders? I used to imagine that this was the space traditionally occupied by a shaman who might counsel others in matters of love, life, and relationships. But if you are a stealth shaman, then no one benefits. Without that recognition perhaps I just seem a tall and athletic grandmother who was raised entirely among men without female guidance. At least that’s my story.
It’s not entirely untrue either. I was one of seven siblings. I only have one sister and she is 12 years older than me, so we had very little interaction. My mother was bedridden so she had a limited role in my childhood. In addition, I was just one part of a large group of boys and treated the same as the rest. I was never shown any of the skills often associated with being female. I never braided hair or learned to sew or suffered the gauntlet of puberty or childbirth that cisgender women have. On the other hand, most of them couldn’t change their car’s oil, hook up a computer and modem, frame a door, or surf. I was taught all of these as a boy. But adult women don’t talk about those things. They don’t chat about battery capacity or brag about how big the waves were back in the day. Their language has more to do with feelings and the female experiences they share.
I always had a natural ability in that department. I always wanted to speak about feelings and emotions more than facts and bragging rights. That was among the traits that caused me to feel so out of place among my male siblings and peers. I understand the language well, but lack some of the common experiences among my female peers. I don’t necessarily feel judged. When I tell other women about my grandson now, they assume I understand what birthing a child and nursing are like. I understand them, but I never experienced them. Experience is wisdom, understanding is merely empathy. I have empathy, but I’m not sure it can ever equal actual experience. So where does my wisdom benefit? What is the role of a Transwoman’s experience? How do I contribute? What mysteries can I unlock for my fellow human beings in this life we share?
I think the space I can speak to is the place where men and women interact. The challenges they often face in communication. Whether verbally or physically. Men and women often complain of their challenges in understanding the opposite gender. I hear these complaints from both sides and often just nod my head, but am thinking so much more. I know why they don’t understand each other. I know why a woman thinks one thing and a man another. Men see the world through a certain male lens while women see it from their female perspective. It can be as simple as why a woman feels self-conscious in a bathing suit and a man does not. They experience the world from entirely different positions and I have experienced the world from both. That is where my wisdom exists. Perhaps one day I should do an “Ask Trans-Gen” column or blog? Then I can share without coming from behind the stealth veil.