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Op-ed: So You Decided to Become a Woman

Op-ed: So You Decided to Become a Woman

Op-ed: So You Decided to Become a Woman

“Being a woman might not be a choice, but transitioning is, so let’s begin this incredibly brave journey, girl!”

So, you decided to become a woman. Congratulations! What a stress-free, chill decision to make -- one that you obviously reached through careful, calm consideration and not an LSD-fueled night of sobbing introspection. Or: Maybe you've spent your whole life feeling like something was ... off. Maybe you played with Barbies as a child and wrapped a blanket around yourself like a sarong while perched on a windowsill singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Maybe you confronted your uneasiness with masculinity for years in therapy before finally realizing that it just wasn't the tea for you. Maybe you just simply realized you couldn't pretend anymore. So the real tea is: you don't choose to be trans, but you do choose to transition -- just like you don't choose to be gay, but you do choose to come out. Queerness is inherent but it's also actionable, and there is power in that action. So let's begin this incredibly brave journey, girl! Have you seen Transparent? Genius.

Whatever the reason, let me be the first to say what cis women -- allies, every single one of them, we owe them so much -- will be saying to you for the next 50 years: Welcome to womanhood. We're so happy to have you and to constantly remind you that you are being had! We're also extremely excited to teach you the divine secrets of the ya ya sisterhood. Please take off your facial hair at the door, sir.

That reminds me, now that you've decided to be a woman, you're going to have to change literally everything about your body because women only look one way, duh! Go to the doctor ASAP and get on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It's super fun and there will be sexy little roadblocks for you to overcome, like insurance providers insisting they're legally not allowed to call you "ma'am." Spironolactone is going to brutally murder your sex drive, force you to urinate at least 15 times a day, make you crave salty foods to fatten you up like a dysphoric Thanksgiving turkey, ruin your short term memory, and sap your energy until you're a sad, miserable, lazy girl. But it will also allegedly redistribute your fat into more "womanly" spots and change the growth and texture of your body hair, so that's a win. When you eventually realize that you're literally poisoning your body and pivot to Finasteride (a rival androgen blocker), it will drop you into a well of cavernous depression, similar to the well from The Ring, only the creepy dead girl floating at the bottom is a TERF.

Since you've decided to be a woman, comparing yourself (always unfavorably) to other women is going to become your new favorite hobby. You'll wonder why you're shorter, taller, hairier or fatter than literally every woman you see. It will become nearly impossible for you not to judge yourself the most harshly against other trans women, especially famous ones and especially ones in relationships. You'll jealously eye their reconstructed faces and designer breasts, retweet links to their crowdfunding campaigns while assuring yourself you'll never make one, mostly because you don't think anyone would donate. You'll constantly wish you had a sisterhood of girlfriends you could vent with but leave every encounter with another trans woman exhausted, smug, or envious. With estrogen pumping through your veins, it will be as if every other woman you come into contact with is winning a race you only started running halfway through, and they all think your sneakers are ugly.

Now that you've decided to be a woman, you're probably going to want to change your name to something more traditionally feminine, but something that still sounds chosen, like Bella or Hester or Cassiopeia. It's going to be #lit waiting for everyone in your life to adjust as you figure out the right balance between correcting them and letting it slide so you're not constantly policing them. If you want to make your life less triggering at airports, hotels, and hospitals, you'll also want to have your name legally changed, a lengthy bureaucratic process as mind-numbingly annoying as it is insensitive. Once that's done, you'll get to explain to your bank why you changed your name and that yes, Karen, it really is wild how many "transsexuals" there are these days.

Once you've decided to be a woman, you'll have to correct anyone who uses the wrong pronouns when referring to you, if you use feminine pronouns. Uber drivers, baristas, receptionists, salespeople, nurses, and TSA agents will become your mortal enemies, as will anyone you speak to over the phone. As much as you hope that cisgender allies will take on the labor of correcting people for you, many of them will automatically assume that that's your job and sit in silence munching on their artisanal kohlrabi as your NYU undergrad waitress tells you that it's actually your fault she assumed your gender because of your hair/outfit/voice/"male energy."

Now that you've decided to be a woman, if you're attracted to men, you will now be exposed to chasers, most of whom believe they are the first person in the history of the universe to be attracted to a trans person and thus are owed your immediate sexual interest. Some of them are complex, interesting, beautiful human beings who happen to be attracted to trans people, while others would fuck a protein shake if you put some lip gloss on it. Prepare for dating apps to become a hellish landscape littered with losers who expect you to kneel at the altar of their interest and well-meaning men who can't cum without another dick in the room, but draw the line at actually touching one. The nice ones will take you out for soup dumplings and when you bring them home to cuddle and watch Chicago they'll be inside you by "Funny Honey." They won't care when you accidentally set their Commes des Garcons wallet on fire (That candle was inconveniently placed!), but they'll balk when you suggest that they, you know, suck your dick.

But I have to warn you, now that you've decided to become a woman, you might finally understand what's behind that feeling of wrongness you've carried with you your entire life. You might realize that, without putting so much energy into trying to be something you're not, you're finally just you, more of you than you ever have been before. The hormones, body horror, well-meaning monsters, constant misgendering, and the recurring agony of sticking a needle in your thigh every two weeks might somehow be worth it when, every once in a while, you look in the mirror and see a version of yourself you actually want to be. Now that you've decided to be a woman, no matter how badly suited the world is (for now) to accept that, it turns out that being a woman is pretty fucking cool. Welcome to womanhood, the estrogen's great!

*Cis girl overcompensating voice* Hey, lady!

RELATED | Op-Ed: Jill Abramson and the Trans Reporter Who Wasn't There

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