Featured Voices: Doing Femininity Right

Is there a “right” way to do femininity? Amidst the pushback from within the trans community, Brianna forges forward in teasing apart the many facets of gender.

Doing Femininity Right

With these confused (and probably confusing) stream of words I came out to my spouse.

In school it was a common joke to say that I was a ‘lesbian trapped in a man’s body.’ I loved feeling like it secretly was true, but I didn’t really feel ‘trapped’ in anybody else’s body…

I really don’t know what I feel right now. I feel like I’m a female to male transsexual who got lucky being born male but figured out the transition went too far and needs to pull back. Or maybe I really am a butch girl trapped in a guy’s body, I just don’t know.

I had spent the previous year or so doing research in fits and spurts as I allowed myself to think about myself. Finally, I came to the realization that I truly needed to explore gender to see what I’d find. I didn’t want to be one of those people I had read about who comes out to their spouse with an ultimatum of transition. My wife is the most important person in my life and I trust her with my life; if anybody has the right to have input into my self discovery it would be her! If I trust her enough to decide when to pull the plug if I’m in a hospital, refusing to include her in this part of my life seemed wrong somehow. Of course, we ran into problems right away when I couldn’t tell her what I wanted to be called because none of the labels felt right to me.

Dealing with labels has been one of the most difficult parts of my transition. I’ve been fully “out to myself” for almost two years now, but the more I learn, the harder it becomes.

During my first year of gender exploration, I had to fight to figure out what I really felt about myself instead of what others expected to see on me. So much of the conversation around transgender identity focuses around physical features or social cues.

“Have you worn a gaff?”
“How many dresses do you own?”
“I’ll go shopping with you if you want.”
“You need to pitch your voice higher and sway your hips more.”
“You don’t want to look like a man in a dress.”

In the middle of all of that noise, how can somebody tear apart and discover if there’s a difference between their gender identity and gender expression?

I’m not looking at transition so that I can wear pretty dresses and makeup. I could wear pretty dresses regardless of my gender identity. Like Eddie Izzard says, “These aren’t women’s clothes, they’re my clothes. I’m the one that bought them.” I still haven’t purchased any “female” clothes. I didn’t go into my mother’s closet to wear her clothes when I was little. I have yet to learn daily makeup techniques. All of that has caused a few problems with people, especially other transgender people, when they hear that I’m considering transition. After mentioning that I don’t really have much in the way of body dysphoria, a few people have questioned whether I should be allowed access to their transgender areas until I’m “serious” about it.

Eddie Izzard on wearing dresses
Eddie Izzard on wearing dresses: “No, I wear dresses. They’re not ‘women’s dresses.’ They’re my dresses. I buy them”

I wasn’t prepared for my body to be policed even before I started transition.

When I present to people as a man, I’m complimented just because my tie matches my belt and shoes. I’m finding that’s not the case for women. I want to scream when somebody tells me that I have to keep my hair long because women have long hair. It makes me feel unimportant when I share a picture of my swollen and bruised finger after a kitchen accident that required 5 stitches and the first thing somebody says is “Wow, short nails. You should grow them longer.”

I guess I feel like I must somehow be doing femininity right for somebody to comment on my appearance before commenting about issues right in front of them.

* Not an actual picture of Brianna, but equally cool

But I’m excited about the future. I don’t know if or when I’m going to transition medically, what it will end up looking like when I’m done figuring all of this out, or if my spouse will accept me as anything other than the cisgender man we both thought that she married. I easily get frozen by fears of what could happen, yet I’m learning to calm down and take things day by day.

As all of these things swirl around while I try to figure out this whole “gender thing” the dictionary definition of transition has been helpful to me.

Transition, n. “The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another:”

After all, isn’t that just the definition of a life?

About Brianna

Brianna lives in southern Minnesota and passes her time worrying about what will go wrong next. Brianna’s pronouns are she/”Just use my name instead of a pronoun”/”that wanker over there”. Brianna is literally the coolest person in the room right now. I’m serious, just look around.

Ok, real bio this time. 😉

Brianna is a Minnesota girl who is definitely meant for the city. She loves quirky humour, spelling words the British way, and people who wear their confidence like most people wear their underwear – namely all the time, every day. This post brought to you by way too many podcasts to list, Hugo’s “99 Problems” Pandora station, and the number 7. 


Join the #GenderWarriors and help bring #FeaturedVoices to life by #contributing more than just a #hashtag.


4 thoughts on “Featured Voices: Doing Femininity Right

  1. “I guess I feel like I must somehow be doing femininity right for somebody to comment on my appearance before commenting about issues right in front of them.” I laughed at this, only so I don’t cry at the reality of just how absurd gender policing can get.

    This story was a really great example of how transition and gender exploration are not necessarily linear. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Great post! For years I pulled back from transitioning because I am 196cm tall and thought I would never pass. Now, at almost 60 I have come to realise that it is not about “passing”, it is about being true to who I am, who I have always been. I am on hormone therapy and plan to start my real life test this summer after I have completed electrolysis. If other people have a problem with who I am it is just that, their problem, not mine. Our Declaration says that it is a self-evident truth that all people are created equal and have unalienable Rights and that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. It is time the gender police get over themselves and accept people as people and stop trying to deny others their rights.

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