Hi Jessie,

Thank you for writing. I am really sorry to hear of your trauma.

I addressed this dilemma to a small degree in the article. When one has been hurt, the PTSD or trauma connected with that can haunt one in many ways, after.

One example that comes to mind was captured in the movie “Casualties of War,” where a Vietnam vet gets triggered on a bus at the sight of a Vietnamese woman. She cannot help being on the bus. She cannot help being Asian. And he cannot help being traumatized, associating Asian features with threat and violence. It is up to both of them to be extra kind, extra gentle with one another.

Specifically to your example: pre-op & non-op trans women can be extra careful to change in a private stall, or at least to turn away from other women while changing in a gym locker room. And you could also retreat into a private stall for an extra sense of safety. Honestly, I’ve asked my friends (cis & trans) and all of them said that they prefer not to expose their genitals in a gym locker scenario, that they use a private stall.

Or, in the example of the women’s circle, the non-op trans woman and you could make it a point to stand farthest from one another. She can be aware that there is a trauma person in the circle and give you space. Or the facilitator can be mindful enough not to book a trauma person in the same circle as one shared by a non-op trans woman.

Ultimately though, I believe that it behooves us to heal our hurts. In your case, I encourage you to find a good therapist who can see you through the trauma. If you happen to be heterosexual, this will be needful to be able to enjoy a full sexual life. Less urgent if you happen to be a lesbian, but still worth working on. Imagine some day you have a son, or a trans girl as a daughter. You wouldn’t want trauma reactions to a penis to get in the way of your ability to love them.

I understand many might say the obvious solution is to exclude trans women from women’s spaces. But that discounts the tremendous hurt this causes trans women. Going back to the Vietnam-era movie, it would not be reasonable to exclude all Asians from buses as a solution.

I hope I’ve addressed your question. I am sad for your hurt, and I wish you healing.

Activist. Public speaker. Writer. Community Organizer. Mom. Creator & Host, Empowered Trans Woman Summit. Managing Editor, EmpoweredTransWoman.com

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