Okay what’s the difference. In some ways the line is thin. Almost no difference. But in other respects there are miles between them. In this post I will try to explore this gap, particularly in relation to me, but also in general.
The first thing I will say is it is situational or context driven. In some cases it is more appropriate to refer to myself and others as transgender women; in some cases it is more appropriate to refer to myself and others as women. I most often use the adjective transgender when it is important to refer to my assignment at birth as male. When I speak of myself and how I feel, I often just say I am a woman.
So, when do I call myself a transgender woman? When my status as a woman in a male body is important to note. If I say I am transitioning to live my life as a woman, transgender woman is an apt term. In a conversation with my girlfriend, I mentioned that I will have to get used to people looking at me as a transgender woman because they will be looking for now at a male in woman’s clothing. Male is my sex, and woman is my gender.
As mentioned feelings and thoughts of being a transgender woman crop up a lot when I compare my gender versus my assigned sex at birth. But I use it of myself also as a comparative term to ciswoman (woman whose gender matches their sex assigned at birth) and others on the transgender spectrum, but who do not identify all the way as a woman.
But, does this mean I am not a real woman? Some would say yes. But, I would say they just don’t know. They don’t know how I feel on the inside. How can they? I can’t tell what anyone else feels like on the inside unless they tell me, and this applies both ways. But I know other gurls who would say the same thing – I am a woman. Gender should be consider completely different than birth sex assignment. Seeing this important fact, there is no reason a transgender woman cannot just call herself a woman.
That is pretty strong language, but I feel it is justified because it is elicited by strong feelings that I have about my gender. I can be in a room with ciswoman, and the comparison with them crops up in my mind – why can’t I be pretty† like them? But, it dawns on me, and I realize in my heart that I am a beautiful woman on the inside despite what appearance I currently show to the world.
† I know; not all women are considered pretty, but almost all of them are better looking than me at the current time.