How do you feel female?

I noticed you’ve mentioned in a few of your posts that you’re cis. I understand how one can feel like one is in the wrong body, but I’ve never understood how one can feel emotionally that one is male or female, if that makes any sense. I suppose my question is…how do you feel female/like a woman?

I thought about this a lot, and I couldn’t figure out a good way to explain it. I started thinking about happiness. Everyone knows what happiness feels like but different things make different people feel happy. You know when you’re happy, but you also know when you are not happy. Being “happy” and “not happy” are two distinct things. This isn’t the best example because generally speaking people view happy as “good” and “not happy” as bad, whereas “cis” and “trans” are neither good nor bad, they just vary along the gender spectrum.

Just as everyone has different things that make them happy, different people have things that make them feel like a woman. There are also some things that I can do that make me feel more like a woman. Doing these things may not make other people feel more like a woman, but they do to me.

I also have to consider in all of this that gender is socially constructed. That means that when we’re born we’re told what it means to be a man or a woman. We are told that there are only two genders and that there are certain ways to behave and if you go outside of those strict columns that you are doing something that the other gender would do. Some things are genderless, but most things aren’t, or can be “gendered.”

When I hear people talk about their experiences in being trans* I hear stories of them just knowing. Sometimes it takes a while to “just know” because of how hard we’re pushed into one category or the other. I definitely felt that way discovering my own sexual orientation (I don’t feel straight, but I do like boys, and everyone keeps telling me I’m straight… so I must be straight, right?)

I don’t know if there IS a good answer to this question. You know. But you also do things that tell you. You slip and fall into pre-constructed categories. Then you can either let those categories continue to define you as that gender, or you can see them as two separate things. “I am a girl and I like rough and tumbling” or “I am a girl but I like rough and tumbling.” Does that make sense? I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes the things around us cement the gender we feel we are, or they tell us something about what we feel we aren’t.

If that’s all sort of exhausting to think about, we’re on the same page. I am certain that there are more fluid ways of expressing this, but I’ve never read one before, so I’m sort of working from scratch here.

My identity as a woman is unique – I know that I am female – but it is also fluid and ever-changing in what that means to me.

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3 Comments

  1. I am built like a girl – I look like a girl – I do what girls do – I like being a girl – and my body works the way women s bodies do and I would not have it any other way.
    I like men – (and what makes them male) and I like girls too – that makes me a little different but I am and always will be proud to be female.

  2. This is something I’m interested in. I tried a couple times to write about what I imagine it feels like to be a woman. I guess I have tried articulating what it’s like to be a man, although more indirectly. That made for some fun discussions between my wife and I while I was doing the research. I don’t know that I was successful though, and as you point out it’s very difficult not to fall into the traps of gender stereotypes. That may apply, statistically speaking, to a group of people, but one person can be so fluid and fleeting. Individuality!

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