Hi Tom, and thanks for taking the time to respond.
I struggle with several parts of your writing. I can clearly see your heart is in the right place — but you make some assumptions that are questionable… and you speak with an air of entitlement that’s a bit difficult to take in.
For example, you start with “the reality is,” instead of the more accurate “my views on this,” or “it is my personal opinion that.”
Yes, we all respond to cues. If you’re on the phone with a person who has a deep voice, you might make the assumption that they’re a guy. If the person corrects you and says, “no, I’m a girl,” you now have a pretty powerful new cue.
But more relevant to the trans experience is that you don’t have a good grasp of gender theory. I’m not trying to be pedantic — all of this research is just a couple of decades old. But it’s scientifically established.
Tom, think of it this way: If you have a box of cereal and it’s full of cereal, what do you have? You have cereal. If you have a box of cereal that’s been filled with rice, do you have cereal? Do you have cereal that ‘thinks’ it’s rice? No, you just have rice. You have rice in the wrong, awkwardly mislabeled packaging. And that’s what being transgender is like.
A transgender woman is not “a male identifying in the opposite gender,” and is not “a man taking on a feminine role.” A trans woman IS a woman — just a woman with the utterly shitty luck of being stuck with a male chasis.
Gender expression (how someone look and acts) is independent of gender identity. There are women who act kinda masculine. There are men who act kinda feminine. While gender expression can be a good cue as to how a person feels inside, we’re not talking about gender *expression* here.
You say, “I will use male pronouns out of your optical identification.” But Tom, that’s lazy, and self-centered, and sort of mean. A much more decent thing to do is to use male, or female, pronouns based on that person’s ACTUAL self-identification. If they straight-up TELL you they’re male, use male pronouns. If they’ straight-up tell you they’re female, why would you then be cruel enough to insist on male pronouns?
No one is denying the reality of biology. Quite the opposite, I am hoping to enrich your understanding of biology, and neurobiology specifically. Scientists have tested the brains of trans woman (born in male bodies) — and found the gendered parts of their brains conform to those of cis women (born in female bodies) — NOT to those of men. Trans women are not men in women’s clothing — we’re women, suffering from a horrific doozy of a birth defect.
A cisgender person (someone whose body aligns with their brain) doesn’t have to worry much about all this. They generally get perceived as the gender they carry inside. For a trans person, it’s a much harder life. I have been transitioning for four years. At this point, I look female. So people usually give me “she/her” pronouns. I know I’m a woman, so that feels right.
But four years ago I also knew I was a woman. My body, however, still looked very male. Some people back then were nice enough to *get* what was happening and grant me the courtesy of calling me “ma’am” and “she/her” etc. — and some others said “Sir” and “he/him” out of ignorance, or not knowing. BUT, some others insisted on saying “he/him” even when I explained to them I’m a trans woman — and they did so out of malice. And that last one is just not being a good human — it’s just not kind.