As I continue to live and explore what it means to be a transgender woman, one theme keeps emerging. As much as I wish to be a woman, my experience will always be stunted when compared to a cis-woman. It will always be a transitional state. That is not to say I shouldn’t be treated as a woman in most, if not all, social contexts, but only that my subjective experience of woman will never encompass the full experience of a cis-woman. Even allowing for the complete continuum of female experience, the trans-woman’s experience will only ever overlap the continuum. Some portion of the trans-woman’s, and the cis- woman’s, life experience is inaccessible to each other. Stunted is not meant to suggest or imply lower status but only that the trans-woman will not grow to the total fullness of female experience. It needs to be said too that neither (perhaps arguably) will the trans-woman reach the full scope of cis-man’s experience, despite their birth identification as male. That is for another essay though.
This theme came up in therapy numerous times. I was aware, thanks to my therapist having published a memoir, that much of her life experience as a cis-woman was atypical, at least in its totality. However, as I mentioned obliquely in therapy sessions, her life experiences were not outside the range of possibilities imaginable for a cis-woman. Female partners, husbands, boyfriends, natural and artificial insemination, pregnancy, children, immigrating, study, girlhood, and so on. There is much there that I will not experience despite our recognised statuses as women. My experience will be stunted; will always have a lack, compared to my therapist.
More generally, and primally, the trans-woman will not have experienced, in presence, absence, or both, menstruation.
Primality of menstruation, physically and socially (articles/books on experience of menstruation)
Socialisation as a woman -missing in some part
Trans-women are therefore unable to fully obtain the female voice that Adrienne Rich examines in On Lies…
Further, do trans-women ever fully transition? If they can never fully experience womanhood, fully obtain that female voice, can their transition ever finish, despite SRS? Transition – Maria Bello chpt 6
It seems obvious then that feminists have some legitimacy in their not always open-armed acceptance of trans-women.
Way forward… Attempts at inclusion… Inclusion despite this stunted experience
A theoretical approach to this issue, compared to a social justice-emotional approach.