I am the first to admit, I still hide within my mask. I am not proud of it; I am properly ashamed that I still retreat into it because it is familiar, though despised. If I have to run to the store and I haven’t time to don my wig and put on makeup, I take the time to remove my nail polish and put on a cap and go to the store. If I know I will have to speak to someone, I remove everything and become my mask. I hate my voice, I am working on it, but it marks me very readily. I’m not proud of these moments; those that make me feel like I am hiding behind the façade of male privilege.
That said, I am indeed a real woman. This isn’t decided by my experiences or by a BBC host who thinks that trans women aren’t sufficiently treated as inferior. My gender is locked into the brain, floating around in my skull. Dame Murray believes that we don’t know feminism because we have known male privilege or that because a couple of newly out trans women are worried about the clothes and cosmetics they will wear. It’s a flawed reasoning, one made out of fear. She is transphobic, she has a fear that we (trans) are somehow going to damage feminism or dilute what it means to be female. She is of course missing a few crucial facts. Feminism is about wanting the sexes to be equal, which is exactly what we want. Trans women worry over clothes and cosmetics because we didn’t grow up into a closet of clothes or into the slow training of putting on cosmetics. Most of us have tried to pass as male the majority of our lives, so there are a lot of areas we have to learn very quickly. These are real worries for real women.
Male privilege is not something we asked for, it is a legacy of being trapped inside a body we must endure or change. Those that wield male privilege like a weapon are the reasons why we hide at all, why we don’t come out much earlier in life. We are expected by our fathers (most) to grow up to be men, so we try to fit the idea, tried to make them happy. Did Dame Murray have to endure this; did she have to fight past the misogyny and the confusion to be who she is? No, and she shouldn’t have to in order to be thought of as real.
Dame Murray and other media personalities are entitled to their opinions, but they are also bound by those opinions to the people they entertain. I think that she is misguided and that she can change her mind. I don’t want to give up on her or the others who have voices, they need to understand. I believe that once she understands what transgender is, that we are real and not men (or women) playing at a different gender, I think she can be an important ally. Until then, she is fostering dangerous misconceptions that can get trans women or men killed or assaulted.
We are real.