With the recent "coming out" of Caitlyn Jenner, there has been an explosion in the media from many angles as a response. One of the most poignant of those has been the intersection between the feminists and transgender women. A polarization between these two groups has manifested and coalesced into article after article appearing in the media by feminists as to what it means to be a woman. The ideology of womanhood itself is at question and is under scrutiny and challenge as the very core of womanhood is at once rethought, reshaped and redefined in the eyes of many.
At the core of the argument by feminists arises the conception that many transgender women are stereotyping the construct of femininity into the very thing they, themselves have been trying to break away from. Caitlyn Jenner's comments in her interview with Diane Sawyer revealed several remarks in which she proudly announced that she would finally be able to wear her nail polish freely now as a woman. The response to that by one feminist article was that "nail polish does not a woman make".
In a world where women are still striving to be recognized as individuals and equals with men and not objectified or sexualized by stereotypical preconceptions that are often ascribed to women by what had been a patriarchal social rule, the conflict arises. Transgender women who seem to jump willingly into the overtly feminine box and who sport makeup, high heels and frilly dresses create distress for those natal born women who find imprisonment and confinement in the same. And while there will always be the overtly feminine transwomen who subscribe to the highly feminine stereotype, there are also equally, a distinct number of transgender women who do NOT.
What does it mean, then, to be a woman? With the recent sociological shifts as transgender women become more and more mainstream in the news and media, women born biologically as women have begun to question their own identity and what it means to be a woman at its very core. I personally see femininity not as an objectifying box of stereotypes It has, for me, nothing to do with the hair, the makeup, the clothes, the high heels or the frilly dresses. It has, in my honest opinion, everything to do for me at least, with how I socialize in the world, how the world socializes with me and how I feel comfortable in so doing.
Could I have socialized and been integrated into the female folds living as a male still? I tried that for 45 years and for me, the answer turned out to be a resounding "NO!" because we still do, as a society, make initial determinations as to how we will be interpreted, treated and acknowledged in our interactions based upon our perceived gender. A lack of uncomfortability in my feeling free to present the aura of who I am truthfully was additionally shielded behind the barrier of the physicality of the male perception I engendered.
So we could ask then if I was "giving in" to achieve the very stereotypes which feminist women are trying to break away from at a base sociological level? To be quite honest, I do see both sides of the argument here with both the feminist striving to break down the differentiating walls of gender and the transgender women who strive to achieve something more of the perception they hold as their own conception of what it is to them of being "female".
In the end, what we truly are is simply human and that each of us, whether biologically born male or female, will exhibit a range of behaviorisms and socializations which will ultimately be ascribed to boxes we have come to sociologically define as "male" or "female". Some will choose to walk their path in life without physically modifying their outward "shell" while others will come to find that they only will feel comfortable societally by ascribing the physical manifestation of the gender they exude from within externally.
Let me give an example of just how complex this truly all is....
Understand that in the human race, there are those who are born as male, or as female or genetically as some variant in between. There is a range. This is a medical fact. This range we will call our line which extends left and right as our "X" axis.
We then have the concept of sexuality..... who we are attracted to.... Some are attracted to men and some to women and some to both. Here again we have another range that extends from one side to the other. We will call this continuum, this line, as our "Y" axis.
Now we have the concept of gender. There are some who feel inside that they fit in better to the world interacting as male, some as female and some as neither one nor the other specifically (gender queer). They may exhibit highly "female" or highly "male" traits as defined through the ages in our human societal box. This is also a range in a line that extends far to either one way or the other. This line is also a continuum and we will call this our "Z" axis.
Now for each and every person on this planet, there is going to be a point where they fall on the biological "X" axis, another point where they fall on the sexuality "Y" axis and yet another where they will fall on the gender identification "Z" axis. Now go ahead and overlay each of the X,Y and Z lines at the points where each has identified . Do this for each and every person on the planet. For each person, each will have a different point exactly where they lie on each line and where those lines intersect each other will each and every time and for everyone..... be different and unique.
This is the complexity of what it truly means to be a human. The take-away from this essay is simply to understand that we are all sentient human beings, conscious of who we are inside and aware. It is our choice of how we determine and how we wish to fit into the world around us. In no way should we consider that any one person or group of individuals who strive for their own personal freedoms in so living their life as they see fit be something to be interfered with or hindered by another. And in the same light, we must also strive to break down the walls of preconception of what it means to be male or female. We should simply be striving to applaud and revel in the joy of the uniqueness to what we each bring to the table of the colorful and amazing collective of what we call this, the human experience.