A poignant and thoughtful piece.
You did a thing I do as well —you threw in a contentious title. Clever ruse. 😊
You ARE right though. It IS gross. I mean, when looked at from that lens. The memes illustrate the point best. Biased, fallacious, arbitrary ideas of what makes a real woman. I’ve seen similar memes about men (“Real Men Hunt;” “Real Men Love Jesus” — do they?), and about Christians, and about Americans. Essentially the device works along these lines:
REAL [valued identity or status] = [performative qualifier]
The manipulative intent is obvious.
In my articles about trans women and our validity, I’ve simply said “trans women are women.” But of course, this is predicated on, “by whose definition, by whose adjudication?” — a fraught idea.
And you know what? There are women (cis and trans alike) who evoke in me more of a ‘sister-to-sister’ response. And there are other women whose manner, language or body language make that connection more difficult for me. There is a woman — a cis woman — with whom I’ve had to interact as a volunteer for a local community. This woman is a doctor with her own practice. She dismisses my opinions, makes me feel small, invalidates my ideas and speaks over me. Her chauvinism and self-centered arrogance elicit in me the same emotional reactions I have to entitled cis men. My mind processes her much like it processes a Ben Shapiro or a James Paterson.
I have an article in the works, and I’ll be quoting from, and linking to, your piece.
I’ll leave you with this though. We DO have a behavior model, for when a person’s idea of themselves doesn’t match our idea of them. It is an old one, but it’s very workable still. I’m talking about the Golden Rule —treat others the way you’d like to be treated. Or even better, the Platinum Rule — treat others the way THEY’d like to be treated.
I wouldn’t like others to minimize my identity. Therefore, I try not to misgender others — a practice which includes not assuming I know someone’s pronouns simply by external performative hints such as hair style, fashion or posture. A practice I follow regardless of how I instinctively might feel about them OR their gender (feelings likely to be driven at least in part by cultural bias and my own prejudices).
Anyway, thank you for a well-written piece.