I was born with all the biological markers of the female sex. I was not born with all of the classic traits of the female gender.
I was born different. Different enough that I’ve spent a lot of my life pinpointing that difference. That means I’ve given a lot of thought to my gender identity and sexual orientation. I am female and I am attracted to men. The fact that I have female reproductive organs almost seems incidental to this.
My personality makes more sense in a male gender. Goodness knows my fashion sense would make more sense in a male gender. There have been times in my life when I have unintentionally “passed” as male. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, this idea that the world would like me better if I wasn’t authentic to my own soul.
I know there are cis-women who dislike, even hate, the term cis-woman. I can’t even begin to understand them or why they feel that way. For me it’s a positive affirmation of who I really am.
When I was married some of my family was shocked. I discovered that they thought I was lesbian. They would have been less shocked had I come out, dated a woman or began transitioning to a male gender identity. That hurt, not because I associate being gay or trans negatively, but because they didn’t know me. At all.
I rarely form female friendships, but when I do they tend to be important friendships. I have to worry that people will interpret these friendships as romantic. Especially since I am so publicly pro-GLBTQI issues. I have to worry that men will assume I am a lesbian, especially men I am attracted to. I’m not very girly by nature, although I work at it. I have to make sure I look female, because I have been mistaken for a man before.
Even though I often feel I fall short of the expectations of womankind at large, I am a woman. A heterosexual cis-woman. I want babies and a husband and a manicure and kitchen all of my own and all those other embarassingly female things that other women want. I am fully aware I am not more female than trans-women. Often I am less feminine than they are, in every sense. Sometimes that hurts, to know I am lacking in my womanhood in many ways. But it doesn’t change the fact that I am a cis-gender woman. Saying I am merely a woman makes it sound like an accident of biology, and my biology isn’t something I’m always fond of. My soul is female. It would be female even if I had a penis and a big bushy beard.
So I am happy and proud to identify as a cis-gender woman. It is accurate. It properly describes me inside and out, start to finish. It’s not merely who I am, but who I aspire to be. I am aware of the privilege it grants me, especially because I have had occasions where the heterosexual cis-woman privilege was not granted to me. I’d like to be better at it, without giving up who I am. I’d like to be a better woman without being a lesser me.
I am a cis-woman as much as I am a straight woman, a white woman, a fat woman or a woman who sometimes dyes her hair a deep pink color. And I am not merely ok with that, I am comforted by the term.