What does it mean to be an American girl?

Lately I have been listening to my country music playlist on Spotify as I drive home from work more than usual. Part of it is the longer I spend in the giants asphalt jungle the more I miss being in the country. Another part of it is since fully coming out to everyone in my hick family I’ve been really missing some of my family members who pushed me out of their lives. One song in particular rings so true to me. It’s by Trisha Yearwood. It’s called XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl). I love listening to it as much as I can. But it make me wonder, what does that even mean More importantly, am I doing it right?

The other day I wrote about how my dad and I bonded over sports. It was about the only thing we had besides cars and trash talking liberals. If only he new the truth. But I didn’t get into how close he was with his three daughters he does acknowledge. He didn’t bond with them in the exact same way but they didn’t do traditional father daughter things, my sisters were not very girly and so dad spent time with them doing pretty much the same sorts of things as he did with me. Becky was into cars and sports, Candy spoke to him on the same level about music and religion, Stacy was more independent so I am not sure what their relationship looked like to be honest. She’s also older than me and moved out earlier than the rest of us.

It got me thinking though, what would my relationship with my dad been like had he seen me as a girl not a boy? I look at my cisgendered friends. I have quite a few I call friends, fewer still I’d call true allies. But as much as I appreciate my girl friends and do enjoy their company, most still do kinda treat me like less than a girl. I don’t have anyone willing to take me shopping or to invite me out with the girls when they do girls night. Still none of my female coworkers or outside work friends, past or present, talk to me like a girl about boys, or share feelings. It does make me feel alienated. Being free to be myself to wear a dress, told I am cute, to put on make up yeah it makes me feel female inside, presenting outside, but when I am not treated like a woman, the same as other women, it does make me feel bad about myself. 

I know being a woman is not about the clothes, or hair, or even gossip for that matter. There’s nuances that I can’t being to understand. But I fear many still see me as a gay person emulating a woman not a woman who was abused by society and forced to pretend she was man most of her life. That’s rough. It’s hard not having girlfriends I can be a girl with. I have Robin, my sister. But she’s trans and was even further into masculinity during her guy days so she doesn’t have a lot of the feminine interests or traits I want to share with other girls.

Being trans is already a lonely existence. we face discrimination and bigotry in so many ways we can’t even properly articulate. It’s even harder when the girls we want to bond with, want to close to, be like, push us away because even they don’t see us as fully women. It’s just emotionally draining. I won’t and can’t ever sit and talk about my period, that’s science. But I’d kill to have a girls night with drinking, fun gossip, dancing, hell even just a casual manicure day. I can’t even get one of my girlfriends to go shoe shopping with me. It gets to a point where I have to ask, am I being woman enough? If not, what am I missing out on?

I went to a gay bar a few weeks ago hoping to mingle. I was instructed by all in my community to avoid straight bars. I’d love to get dolled up and go swing dancing or line dancing at a honkytonk bar with my girlfriends. Alas that doesn’t appear to be in the cards. I have plenty of trans friends online and a few offline I can chat with. But I want more. Call me selfish but I want to be the same as all the other women in my life. I want to be treated the same way my sisters are. I don’t want to be objectified or assaulted by men but I want to be seen as a woman. I wonder if I ever will. I wonder what I am doing wrong?

A lot of times people fail to understand or they forget their actions say more than their supportive words. You can click a heart on Facebook and say I got your back all day long but when you go to Starbucks with the girls from work, and conveniently forget to invite me, that hurts like you’ll never know. I want to stop thinking about me as a transwoman. A person assigned male at birth becoming a woman. I want people to just think of me as a woman who is scared and alone because everyone, literally every single person on this planet, in her life, treats her like she is less than that. I am not  fucking fag in a dress. I am a goddamn woman the same as you. I hurt the same as you. 

It’s not to say I don’t have great allies or girlfriends who are cis who would do that, but they’re all online and at a great distance. I love having other trans friends. I love having gay and lesbian friends. But I’d like my cis and hetero female friends to not just call me a woman or refer to me by female pronouns but to see me, treat me, interact with me as though I was born a woman, the same as them. At the end of the day it’s really just another form of discrimination we face. It’s no intentional by all but sometimes it is perhaps learned behavior you might not be aware you are doing.

I don’t have a vagina but so what. I will someday and I took pills to make what I do have stop working. I am basically a eunuch at this point. No. I am a woman. Plain and simple. Period end of story. If you don’t treat me the same as other women, deep down it could mean you’re a transphobe and haven’t realized it yet. I am not asking you to show me pics of your boobs. But you shouldn’t be afraid to do anything with me in the room you’d do with any other female in the room. 

Going back to the song, American Girl. I think the answer is simple. It means we fight on as we suffer in silence at the hands of our oppressors. It means we put on our pretty face, our pretty clothes and we dance for the men in our lives to stay safe. It Also means we keep our trans sisters at arms length. That hurts. I don’t want to be pushed away, I want a hug. I want to be close to my friends. I just want to be the same as any other woman. That’s not too much to ask is it?

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Stephanie Bri

A transgender writer who also does podcasts and videos.