What defines a woman?

An open letter to women and a rebuttal to Emilee Danielson

Emilee, your story is simply one single thread in a tapestry of women. It is not the whole cloth. Living for almost 50 years does not give you a magical ability to tell other women they’re wrong about themselves; all it does is allow you to identify yourself.

We are women from the moment we first heard the word girl and felt it click inside us… whether the word was aimed at us or not. We are a women from the moment we looked into a mirror and recognized the girl within… whether we could see her face or not.

A woman isn’t defined by breasts. You’re a woman whether you’re flat or have breasts that go on for days. Neither is it defined by the ability to carry an infant to term. It most certainly isn’t defined by being a martyr.

Being a woman isn’t defined by horrendous cramps or your ability to fake it through them. It isn’t defined by the size of the baby or the amount of medication you received. You’re still a woman and a mother if you adopted your child or if your partner gave birth. You’re still a woman if you’re child-free.

Emilee, you are a privileged woman in the United States. Unlike friends of mine, you have never been chased down dark streets by strangers while having slurs shouted at you simply for daring to be yourself. You have never had store clerks look you in the eye and misgender you repeatedly and on purpose because they don’t like that you exist. You have never looked at yourself in the mirror and wished you were dead when faced with the stranger staring back. You have children but you don’t have my child. You don’t stand beside your child and have strangers stare… turning so they can continue to stare as you walk past. You worry about strange men on the side of the road while being blissfully unaware of the dangers that trans women face every single day. Unaware that their risks of violence and death from strange men are staggeringly higher than yours.

No, Emilee there is more to being a woman than you could ever experience or even imagine. I find your claim to know and speak of womanhood on behalf of us all to be insulting. A real woman is defined, not by beauty or dirt under her nails, but by herself.

Ms Jenner is a woman, I am a woman, and you are a woman. Tapestries are nothing if every thread is identical. We need our differences in order to make life vibrant.

A tale of two memes…

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This meme is funny.

 

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This one isn’t.

I shared the first meme when I saw it on Facebook. I wrote an angry message and deleted the poster when I saw the second. We’d been online friends for seventeen years.

Two completely different reactions for two almost identical memes… except they’re not.

I’m sure everyone remembers the black and blue/white and gold dress from February. If you’ve got an internet connection, you’ve seen it. It’s the dress that took over the world (for a few days at least). I’m pretty sure there were people living under rocks saying, “but it’s blue and black”. I thought the meme was hilarious because it was the colour I saw the dress. Jeremy, who was firmly in the blue and black camp, thought it was funny too. It seemed totally random who saw which colours, which meant both sides were equal.

The second meme is layers of wrong wrapped in three short words. It translates to “if Bruce is so dense to think he’s a woman, he must think this dog is a cat”. There’s no equality here, just a group of people pointing their fingers at her and proclaiming her not only wrong but stupid and destroying society to boot. If you thought it was funny before, do you still think it’s funny now?

She is a woman. Biology is a lot more complicated than XX and XY chromosomes. Not only do people have all sorts of chromosomal variations but I read an article yesterday about people in an isolated village in the Dominican Republic who appear female at birth only to have their penis and testes appear at puberty. And, of course, there’s the brain scans which actually show the differences between cis men and trans women (and cis women and trans men). The people who argue that biology proves she’s “Bruce” are ignoring a heck of a lot of biology.

Also, her name is not Bruce. This should be obvious. People change their names all the time without anyone making a huge deal about it. They go by a nickname for years and decide to switch to their full name, or vice versa. My uncle has gone by his middle name since the day he was born; it’s the name he uses for everything. As far as I know, no one’s complained about it yet. My great-grandmother found out as a senior citizen that her father couldn’t spell her chosen name of Margaret and wrote the nickname Maggie down instead. My great-grandmother was so not a Maggie. That didn’t make her any less Margaret. I’ve met people who changed their birth name simply because they never liked it.

If your neighbour came up to you and said, “I have always hated my name. I don’t feel like a Eunice, it doesn’t suit me. I’m changing my name to Sarah.” what would your reaction be? Would you say, “No, don’t be foolish. Your name is Eunice on your birth certificate so that’s what you’ll always be” or would you say, “Sarah’s a nice name, of course I’ll call you that”? It should be the latter for her and the same for Caitlyn. It doesn’t matter why the name doesn’t suit someone; you call them by the name they chose.

And quite frankly that poor dog is too cute to be caught up in such a hateful meme.