Not Even with a Rose Petal

One of the many interesting parts of being transgender is getting a fuller picture of how society sees gender, but also experiencing genuine differences first-hand.

For example, growing up I never knew how much truth was in comments about women being ’emotional.’ Obviously, claims that it made them illogical and unreliable were just sexist nonsense, but I wondered how emotional women were and what that felt like.
I got to experience that last year, and found the situation to be (unsurprisingly) more nuanced than ‘men = rational, women = emotional”.

Something I’d never realised is that changes in hormonal levels are what really lead to more emotional states, and not a female hormonal balance. That is, I’ve been at regular base female hormonal levels for a few months now, and I don’t feel nearly as emotional as I did for weeks every time my prescription changed. Even at a stable place with hormones however, I do cry a lot easier than I did pre-transition. I often wonder if this is just down to the fact I don’t feel disconnected from myself, and am able to really BE in the moment and feel what I feel like a normal person. Perhaps. This is difficult to measure, since you can have someone who’s experienced both male and female hormone levels, but not someone who’s felt completely satisfied with both, while presenting as either gender. Additionally, growing up as a guy meant internalising a lot of toxic ideas about how you’re not supposed to feel things. Transitioning has allowed me to let go of them, but I can’t know how I’d have felt with a male hormonal balance if I didn’t have those awful ideas at the time.

So as far as the idea that we’re more emotional, I’ve decided it has basis in some truth, with hormonal change leading to more moments of intense emotion, but that beyond that it’s difficult to say. It’s possible that in a stable female hormonal balance it’s easier to access emotion than with a male one, but my experience doesn’t lend itself to anything beyond loose conjecture. Perhaps someone FtM, who was raised as a woman without the toxic values forced into men, can speak with more experience on what it’s like to have male hormone levels while also feeling no guilt for feeling things.

Anyway, my experience, combined with my thoughtful nature, lead me to spend a lot of time thinking about this sort of thing. Sure, I sometimes wish I could simply turn my brain off and just live in the moment, but I don’t mind most of the time. It’s interesting.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about a phrase we have here, “a las mujeres no se les toca ni con el pétalo de una rosa,” which translates to “you do not touch women, not even with a rose petal.” It’s a curious phrase to develop in such a sexist society. I suppose it makes sense that a culture where women are abused would end up teaching children that phrase as a way to combat it On the other hand, it is sexist in itself, implying all women are delicate little flowers not capable of defending themselves, and of course that men can’t be abused by women (but that’s a whole other big issue). Let’s focus for now on the idea that men need to be so overly careful with women.

It is, of course, a steaming pile of bullshit.

As a group, women show a lot more physical and mental/emotional hardship than many men give us credit for. There is of course, the small issue of periods, pregnancy, and giving birth. I’m not gonna go into that much because it’s all something I’ve (mercifully) not experienced first-hand, but it is still worth mentioning.

But beyond the obvious, there are lots of little ways women show strength. There is, for example, just the fact of going outside when you know, just like any other day, that some man will make noises as you walk by, and others will just gawk and stare, like you’re a fish in a bowl. I’ve only had to endure that for a year and a half, and I can tell you it is draining. I can’t imagine having had to deal with that since twelve or thirteen, which is the age most women start to get unwelcome male attention.
There’s also the way so many women work at offices where, aside from possible sexual harassment from co-workers/bosses, you also have to deal with contempt, and being seen as somehow inferior to your male peers. Again, I’ve had less than two years experience in this, but it’s been more than enough to show me the huge difference in how equally qualified and talented women and men are seen and treated.

We live in a world that was designed for the comfort of men, and it takes a lot simply to be a woman in that world, specially if you decide not to play by all the rules society tries to impose on you.

I’m not sure why I went on this tangent. I do that from time to time. I only mentioned the phrase because I have found there is some truth to it, or rather, in its implication that women are more sensitive than men. I mean, again, women are not ‘weak’ or ridiculously fragile, or anything like that. However, I was drying myself this morning after a shower, and as I rubbed my shoulder with the towel, I was shocked to find it actually hurt. I tried again, and winced a bit as I felt it scratch against my skin. What? I ended up just patting myself dry with the towel, which was one of those things I though I’d never end up doing. For a few months now, too, I’ve found that if I accidentally bump my leg into something it won’t just hurt, it will hurt and even leave me close to tears.

It’s just been an odd and unexpected change.

Today’s post was particularly rambling. I do wonder if the blog has started to run its course. I know a few of my latest posts have covered topics I’ve already written about, and I feel bad publishing, and making someone read, something as pointless as what I wrote today.

I’m not really sure what else I could do with my time, though. Specially since, unfocused as it is, I have found it nice to just be writing anything again. It’s working mental muscles I’d allowed to relax after finishing school.

I suppose I’ll think on it.


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