Reflections of a fourteen year post-op

s_davebath.jpg (1643 bytes)
(Taken late 1992 about
one year after SRS)

Hi.  I'm Melanie Anne.

I'm 53 years old, a professional teacher of fiction writing, parent of two, still married to my spouse of thirty years but living with another woman, my soul mate, for the last eight years.

I'm also a fourteen year post-op from sex reassignment surgery.

Welcome to my life....

Female Privilege

Until you shed your belief that you ever really understood male privilege, you will never be able to truly understand female privilege.  Rather, you will base your assessment of the female version on its male counterpart, never realizing they are dissimilar as apples and oranges.

Those shunning the power, authority, and freedom of the masculine place in society see their new feminine position as being the opposite: dis-empowered, subordinate, and constricted. 

On the positive side, they enjoy men opening doors for them (literally in the real world, but figuratively quite the opposite in the business world), having him pick up the check, passengering while he drives, and so on.

Those of a more philosophic bent consider the female rights afforded of self-expression, manner of dress, open emotion, the acceptance of touching in social situations, "women and children first!" and so on.  Yet all of these, while true, grow from how men see female privilege, and not at all from what it means to women themselves.

How can one get past those shallow and limited views and experience female privilege as other women do? 

The answer is that you have done so all of your life.

Though you may have been completely accepted in your earlier male role, though you may have learned to speak only of masculine things and to present yourself in a masculine manner, your mind was always female.

Those around you could not help but tune into that at some subliminal level, and even while treating you as a man, gave you the same exemptions and deference they would to any woman.

Of course, they would not be aware they were doing this.  And, it would not show up in casual interactions with those who did not know you, as they would simply take your status at face value.

But for those who came to frequent your acquaintance, and especially for close friends, loved ones and family, they would have given you leeway where other boys or men would be held accountable, even while ridiculing you for honestly expressed emotions that did not fit into their concept of the masculine idea.

Think back over key events in your life - the highlights, the tragedies and the triumphs.  Consider how you were treated and compare it both to how other men were dealt with and how women in the same circle were handled - by both genders.

Although in manner and substance you were allowed the status of a man, it was due solely to your physical appearance.  In the realm of emotional interchange your entire life experience was as if you had been born fully female, and the extent of your experience is no greater than if you had been a tomboy who preferred the friendship of males.

Suddenly, from this perspective, you lose all remaining hold on any claim you may have maintained on your previous position.  In a single stroke, you come to realize that you will never know what it is to be a man any more than any other woman can.  And most to the heart of it, you understand that your life has been a female one from the very first, clothed in a male body but treated in kind as the woman you really are.

Female privilege emerges clearly then of its own accord, and your manner changes.  You are no longer afraid to ask a man for help without feeling that you are simply playing a role.  You no longer feel the need to stand up as an equal to them at all times in all ways.  You intuitively grasp the difference between equity and equality, recognizing that when two minds are not the same, they do not desire the same rewards, but rather ones that are of the same relative value.

At once, the illusion of ever having been male dissolves and you find yourself stripped bare of pretense and standing, unveiled as a woman like any other, knowing now the truth of it in regard to your heart.  And then, turning outward, you embrace the substance of your physical being as it has been altered and has grown through decades of estrogen and progesterone.

A woman you feel, and a woman you see, as you stand before both mental and physical mirrors, naked.

 

Melanie is a prolific author, musician, composer,
teacher, theorist, and successful businesswoman.

She is also the founder of the first Transgender Forum on America Online
and the creator of the world's very first Transgender Support Web Site.

Visit Melanie's Home Page

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