Friday, January 14, 2011

When are we really women?

Don't get your panties in a bunch girls it is not what you think or maybe it is but here goes.  When little girls are born they grow into women.  From childhood through their teen years and sometimes into their 20's they are still girls but eventually they are women. It is difficult to define at what moment a girl becomes a woman and some have theorized it is when a girl gets her first period to the point of assigning the arbitrary age as 18 but none of it is really true. A girl becomes a woman when she understands enough about herself and life to be classified that way by her fellow women. It is earned.

In my years I have known 16 year old women and she was described as wise beyond her years by all of us and  was clearly a woman. I have known 30 year old women not one of us called anything other than a girl because she was such a ditz it defied description. She was our friend and we would all ask ourselves when was she going to grow up. She did and it sort of just happened and I have no explanation why but she seemed to know herself. Very weird thing this growing from a girl into a woman even for genetic women.

When I was a child I believed I was a girl. It was just how I thought and when I met Harry I asked why and he put it simply by saying "you just are" and that is the way it was. I was so happy that he wasn't calling me vile names or telling me I was nuts it was a while before I asked that one again. No matter what was done to me I was a girl and that was how it was.

Just as an aside I want to emphasize I understand the term woman or women can be used to define everyone that is female in areas such as women's rights or in a similar manner but we are discussing when a girl becomes a woman which will lead to a bigger question sooner than later.

I told doctors "I am a girl so why can't I just be a girl because I am not hurting anyone" but we all know it is never ever really about us is it?  This crap is confusing to everyone in so many ways and it was ugly back in the 50s and it can be ugly even today. I was translating a letter my mom got from Harry from English to German, a chore for me cause this was hand written, but it dawned on me that Harry always used the word  Mädchen or if in English girl or hübsches Mädchen but never woman until the 70s.

I was sheltered from a lot of the crap in college because they knew and I guess the best term is I was protected and my friends were girls and we were girlfriends in the frame of pals. None of these genetic girls ever called themselves women.

When I moved to NYC in 1969 all my tranny friends called themselves girls and never would dare to say woman because as one told me we have no right to that term "yet". I was in my early 20's and out of my element by a long way and someone we knew casually went somewhere and had surgery but she said herself "I am still just a girl making her way to womanhood".

The first time Harry used woman was in 1975 when he said.

Elizabeth kam zu mir letzten Dienstag und sie hat sich zu einem wunderbaren junge Frau.

Loosely translated it means Elizabeth came to see me last Tuesday and she has become a wonderful young woman.

So now we come to a small question. Why was I now considered a woman when I was a girl in all previous letters between mom and Harry. Was it because I was more mature?  Was it the way I carried myself? Was it because of the way I dressed? What made Harry say that and I noticed friends in California suddenly changed or had over the years from 1973 to 1975 and not one of them knew of the past. I should have asked but back then I was trying to have fun in the California sun and believe me I was and it escaped me to be honest or basically I was oblivious to it.

Maybe it was I grew up a lot raising my step-daughter. I make light of it in many ways because when I held her for the first time she seemed heaven sent but it suddenly hit me I had no clue what to do. I bought books and made the calls to mom and she gave me a few tips and just said "you will figure it out" and I did but kids are work. I do highly recommend it if you ever get that chance.
I believe one learns to be a woman.  It is part of the maturing process that girls go through when they reach puberty and have the first period and then venture into the world as girls whether it be college or the work force but still a little too immature to be women. It is earned and not given freely.

This begs the question and I am as guilty of everyone born transsexual at times.

Why do so many of us think we are automatically women because we have surgery?

I have a friend that has not had surgery and she is an amazing woman. I did not know for years she had not had surgery and believe me that is a woman so in the case of some of us the vagina isn't that important. For others they purchase one and immediately want to be considered women. I believe the better term would be woman in training but that might cause a shitstorm with some of them. The other thing is I don't think appearance has a lot to do with it because I have known some butt ugly women in my day and it has nothing to do with it because they are women through and through.

There are more than a few out there that have bought the best vagina money can buy and the best faces and body money can buy and they will be men to the day they die. Had something like that occur when I was managing a group at a Company and this manager announced he was transitioning and the Company Policy was supportive as it should be. He was the most miserable, rotten, disingenuous, back-stabbing, demeaning , and misogynistic piece of shit I have ever known in my life and believe me he bought the best vagina money could afford and the best FFS money could buy and the biggest breasts he could handle.  We had an invitation only group of female Engineers at the Company and this asshole came back from Meltzer demanding to join and we had one girl that had gone through a transition and surgery and we invited her in because she was one of us but I said no to miss newbie.

The problem with this Manager was he was still the same miserable, rotten, disingenuous, back-stabbing, demeaning , and misogynistic piece of shit he was before he bought his vagina. She was the pronoun but over my dead body would I ever call her a woman and I ran that group and I told her to come back when she was a better person and I received a tongue lashing as she claimed her new found status as a female in Massachusetts entitled her to womanhood. Sorry sweetie, no it di not!

In most cases I think woman in training is the correct term for a someone after surgery. Lets face it transition is just survival for most of us and other than trying to find a place in this world there isn't a lot of places to take Woman 101 during transition.

I get this really sickening feeling that the day is coming when it will be so politically correct everyone will be expected to call the fat, hairy, ugly man in the dress a woman and I am not doing it. No offense meant because I will always defend your right to be yourself but no transvestite, cross-dresser, or gender variant person is either a girl or a woman they just are what they are and I will try to use the correct pronouns but it will be the snowiest day in hell before I use girl or woman and that goes the same for some of you out there that have bought the best vagina money can offer.

There are certain people claiming others are trying to steal their womanhood and have for a while but they miss the point. You are not women yet but women in training so what you do not have yet cannot be stolen since you have not earned the privilege of being called a woman.  It is not being elitist it is just a simple fact. because society and not any single person makes that decision.  Earn it first before you complain about it being stolen.

The other thing is I believe I understand why some feminists get so pissed at certain people claiming to be women and feminists because they bought a vagina.  Right or wrong if they do not consider you a women you might want to try earning the right first from them. Do not rush in an attempt to take over like men just volunteer and be supportive.  You might be surprised how well that works.


Anonymous said...

You are right that girls become women at some point. It is a maturing process. I consider that I have been going through the same thing. I'm come a long way but I still have plenty of growing to do.

Having surgery made me anatomically female, not a woman. It did, however, help dramatically with how I felt about myself. After SRS, I was more free to grow as a woman than I was before. That might just be me.

Yes, I do think that "woman" is something earned, including girls born female-bodied.

Anonymous said...

I can only aspire to grow into the woman that you are. I made a post before my surgery that my GRS was not changing who I am and only helping me to be more comfortable with my naked appearance. That may in turn help me to be more confident yes, but confidence does not make you a woman either.

I've always been a girl mentally. In the past few years, I have matured a lot. I feel that going from girl to woman has nothing to do with any surgery, RLT, or wardrobe. It is a maturity thing. I think it is with us just like it is with genetic girls. You grow up one day. It is bound to happen. Because of this....I can say at one point I was a boy, but I NEVER got to the point of being a man.

You have no idea how many drop dead gorgeous "girls" I know who I can never look at as anything but a drag queen or a man with surgery in womens clothing because that is exactly what they act like. Furthermore, this type of person makes me question things because I and most of the t-girls that I know, didn't have to "learn" how to be girls or women. If it is something that you have to learn, or practice, or try really hard at then I don't think it is sincere. Its not even about going from girl to woman anymore. It's going from men to women-in-training and those people and those like you and me are really two different breeds because sadly, they will never be girls. I don't know what else to say about it.

Common Teri said...

What a great and insightful post.

I am a late transitioner but not late to the feelings I should have been born a girl. I've had therapists, doctors, and friends call me a woman but I've always felt the title is something I haven't quite earned. Being middle-aged it seems just as odd to consider myself a girl, yet my partner/wife has continually said that I am just like an adolescent girl right down to the romantic mysteries I love to read.

Does one learn to become a woman? Well IMHO it is our life experiences that teach us what it means to be one. I feel sorely inadequate as a woman and that is why I hesitate to call my self one. To say I live "as a woman" seems more genuine and truthful. Sometimes I feel at my age I may never arrive to woman status. Over four years with an F on my drivers license and living and working as a woman and I still feel like an impostor much of the time. I just don't have the experience as a woman that others assume I've had.

Even though I come up way short of actually being female I feel more comfortable living as a woman. Some may see me as a "man in a dress" or a full time crossdresser. It hurts but I realize it is part of the dues to be paid for the right to live and be seen as the woman my heart wishes to be.

You were quite fortunate to have such understanding parents.

Anonymous said...

Liz This is the tough stuff that needs to be said but never is. Good on you for saying it and saying it well.
I see these people all over the net blogs claiming to be women and truly they are not. What is it about men that they think they know all about being women.
Good for you.


Teagan said...

I get what you're saying, and it makes sense. Problem is, after reading this blog, I understand what you *don't* consider a woman... but what is it that would make someone a woman in your eyes?

If it's a "I know it when I see it" sort of thing, that works... but what is it to you? I'm also curious about what you'd consider a natal female who displays the miserable, rotten, disingenuous, back-stabbing, and demeaning qualities your manager did.

I apologize if you've talked about this in a previous entry, as I'm new here.

Elizabeth said...


I wish there was something that defines one as a woman. It is combination of experiences as a woman and knowledge garnered from other women. I wish I had the total knowledge I could write a book but it is kind of like a lot of life.

As for the jerk I talked about I have never met a woman in business like that because they would more than likely not FTM transsexuals which was the entire point.

I love your name by the way.

@Common Terri,

I had one parent after 10 but I had enough relatives to make life miserable. I was not the favorite cousin I can assure you.

Anonymous said...


Personally I think that even a natal woman who acted the way her manager did is still somewhat of a little girl in the matter of maturity. It is the same, not all people with vaginas are maturity-wise "women", even if they are born with it.

Kathryn Martin said...

Just a quick correction on the German sentence spoken by Harry Benjamin: the sentence requires the word "entwickelt" to make sense. Essentially you forgot the translation of "has become".

Karen said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I just discovered your blog -- I wish I had found it earlier. This post is one of the best I've read.

I'm 55 and 1.5 years into transition. I have a life full of experiences and am scheduled for surgery in a few months, but I am not yet a woman. My best friend calls me a work in progress.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and insights. I look forward to hearing more from you.

Karen Sullivan

Christine Benvenuto said...

Sister, you rock. You restore my faith in humanity.

Emily King said...

Since starting this joyous journey, I feel that I'm still a girl, even if I'm physically 34.
Even after surgery, I will still think of myself as a girl.
Maybe one day, when I have children and a family, I then can be called a Woman!