Notice the little asterisk after “Woman” up there in the title?
That’s my reality.
It took me a long time to accept that I was female. Longer to actually embrace it, celebrate it and live it. Now that I have, I cannot imagine knowing myself in any other way.
Except. It is not my total truth.
I was born with male chromosomes and genitals and was raised as male.
To this day my body, despite estrogen, progesterone and anti-androgen re-colouring, seems to believe it is still male. Perhaps there is a slight confusion or hesitation in all that boy blood, what with all these powerful girl agents running around and giving new orders (“We need more breast!”), but my body was created to present and function as a male, and no matter what I do there will always be that humming under everything.
My body wants to grow hair. All over the place. Relentlessly. Oh, sure, the girl agents are sweet talking it into slowing down, growing finer, more gently, but my body is still insisting that lots of hair is needed as it was before. I haven’t completed electrolysis, and I wonder if one ever really does “complete” it, so shaving is a daily component and the feeling of stubble late in the day is a bristly reminder of my asterisk.
That asterisk. You see, as much as my spirit, heart and mind may feel totally free and female, my body, and my history, always trip all that up. I am definitely a woman. I have no doubt about that and I am constantly validated in that. But I am a very different kind of woman and that is what I still struggle to accept and embrace. I think this blog helps me understand and accept myself as a woman*. The only way to acceptance is through honesty and courage. As much as I wish things had been different, were different, as painful as it is to understand that I will never feel like I am ‘just’ female, the truth is I have many experiences that other women don’t share, and I lack many experiences most women do share.
That, in itself, is not a bad thing I suppose. Being unique is a gift in many ways. It can also feel like too much of a challenge some days, though, and on those days I struggle not to feel like a failure as a woman. Sometimes it feels like I am walking a high wire, and when I have a misstep the fall is much further than I thought. One can never think of how far it is to the ground when up on that wire.
On good days, really good days, not only do I accept and embrace that I am female, but also that I am female*, and that being that is not only okay, but kind of cool and interesting. Unfortunately, that is still a difficult place for me to reach, and so I continue to look for validation, embracing any words and actions by others that reassures me that I am seen as female, sans asterisk.
The irony is that, I believe, when I finally accept and embrace that I am woman*, that asterisk will vanish, and I will truly inhabit the whole of my self and simply be… woman.