I think a lot about what my life would be like if I were AMAB: assigned male at birth. Occasionally, in the manner of Taylor Swift’s “The Man,” I ask myself if I would not hate the ambitious part of me so much if I were in a culture that nurtured strength in me? I often think, “Wow, because I was born a girl so much of my personality is based off nurturing others — I’m constantly operating within the stupid little barriers I’ve decided are ‘appropriate’ for me.”
In the end, I am grateful to be AFAB, not because there’s anything wrong with being trans, but because there’s a lot wrong with how trans people are treated. I’m lucky I don’t have to face that prejudice.
Not to the level of dysphoria trans people face, but honestly, there’s a lot about being AFAB and/or female that sucks. And most of it — periods, pink tax, pay gap, dress codes, fear of being downtown after 6 p.m. — all boil down to women being seen as breakable objects.
Yes, women are often physically smaller and have less muscle-aiding testosterone, but that doesn’t mean we’re weak or incapable. However, it does mean that, sometimes, we’re allowed to be.
It’s a lot “easier” and “more common” for girls to struggle with their mental health, because if you’re already seen as weak, you don’t have as far to fall when people see you as even weaker. We’re forced into more restrictive clothing that prioritizes fashion over function in a market that values looks over life.
Essentially, less than-ness is expected of girls, and we are forced into it.
Another thing that’s seen as weak, regardless of whether you willingly look through the filter of a male-centric bias that’s deeply rooted in capitalism and oppression? Being queer.
Coming out was really hard for me. I was scared because I didn’t really have anyone to look up to, because the concept of homosexuality has been mocked in front of me for as long as I can remember, because the longer I kept it a secret the more wrong it felt, because people thinking I don’t deserve to get married or have children is seen as an “opinion” and not ignorant bigotry. Despite this, as far as coming out goes, I got pretty lucky.
I have a good handful of friends who are out as lesbian, pansexual, bisexual, asexual, etc., and the vast majority of them are female and AFAB. It’s not because “being a bi girl is trendy” or because we want to publicly kiss one another for the attention of boys — it’s because girls are allowed to explore the extent of their sexuality without as much torture from others. There’s even less media representation for lesbians than for gay men, but we still come out faster because there’s not as much pressure to stay in the closet.
My theory behind why all queerness ends up getting associated with femininity — and therefore substandard — is because the idea society has of a gay man is just a deeply feminine, over-the-top and kind of rude man. And unless lesbians exist to appease men who think women loving women is attractive, they’re also reduced to essentially feminine men. In both instances, queerness is associated with qualities that label them as weak: being just too womanly to be a man.
Sports is a prime example of my point. As far as athletes go, I can think of far less openly out gay men, but several women out as lesbian, bi, etc., including five members of the U.S. women’s soccer team. According to OutSports, the openly queer female American athletes outnumber their male counterparts nine to one. But these women are the top role models and representations of strength for girls. Queer or otherwise.
I think what I found here backs up what I’ve said so far. It’s not weak to be queer. Having to fight for who you love and how you love probably does make you more in tune with the concept of love. It doesn’t mean you’re ruled by faulty logic and emotion.