I don't expect y'all to change your minds about trans people, and so this response isn't really for you: it's for the trans and questioning kids and adults reading this who shouldn't have to see this kind of bigotry and hate go unchallenged. Be aware that none of your "arguments" are going to make me any less trans and any less a woman: that is not for you to decide, and frankly it's none of your business.

These gender critical arguments reek of internalized misogyny and the policing of women's bodies. Because, the last time I checked, none of the gender critical folks can point to any physical aspect of a woman's body and say that that DEFINITIVELY makes a woman...at least not without excluding large categories of woman that they'd rather include within the term. Not chromosomes (there are more women without XX chromosomes than there are women with red hair). Not the capacity to bear children (I have dear friends who can never have children who have mourned that their whole life: I dare you to tell them that they are not women). These attempts at so-called "biological essentialism" misunderstand biology, and they are fundamentally anti-feminist, as they define women by their genitals and their bodies, rather than their selves.

Nor am I buying into arguments that choose to define women by our status as oppressed by men. That gives the patriarchy far more power than it deserves. Womanhood cannot be reduced solely to suffering at the hands of men. However, even if I WERE to concede this point, it wouldn't disqualify trans women from womanhood, since we're statistically MORE likely to be the victims of sexual assault, harassment, and murder than cis women, because of our expression of our gender.

Finally, let’s talk about some of the toxic comments about gender expression that have appeared here. I want to make something clear that may not have come through in the original piece: my womanhood is not contingent upon my gender expression. Wearing skirts, painting my nails, growing breasts, having a female endocrine system...none of those things make me a woman. I have always been a woman, even if, for too many painful years, I tried to be the man that the world was convinced I was. If I had never transitioned, I'd still be a woman. If my transition involved retaining my beard, or my genitals, or only wearing "men's clothes" I would still be a woman. Trans women have the same diversity of gender expression as cis women, and no particular gender expression makes a trans person more or less the gender that they are, any more than wearing pants and having short hair doesn't make a cis woman any less a woman.

There is, however, an insidiously misogynist trap hidden within these critiques of gender expression. A catch 22. Because, if I'd kept my beard, or kept my wardrobe, or kept my hair short, the same "feminists" who say that feminine gender performance doesn't make someone a woman would be pointing at my so-called "male" features as further evidence that I wasn't a "real woman". Trans women are often trapped in this paradox where the world demands that we perform femininity perfectly in order to have a chance of being accepted as who we say we are, even as transmisogynistic gender critical" feminists" critique us for capitulating to patriarchal beauty standards.

So, I am a trans woman who finds euphoria in feminine-coded gender expression. Expressing myself in feminine ways helps me overcome the pain of my dysphoria - that cruel voice in my mind that makes the same arguments that the TERFs in this thread are making.

Here's the thing: if being told I was a man by LITERALLY EVERY PERSON I'VE EVER KNOWN FOR 40 YEARS wasn't enough to persuade me that I was actually a man, then what makes you think some ignorant tool of the patriarchy is going to suddenly make me into one?

And so, I encourage you to take your bigotry somewhere else. I am not going to continue to debate my existence with you.

Associate Professor of Informatics, feminist, witch, XR storyteller ADHD, neurodivergent, poly, lesbian, trans woman, mom, she/her

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