I was told today that I could no longer call myself a “biological female” but must use the term, “assigned female at birth (AFAB).”
Well, hmmm . . . according to a person whom I respect, I can no longer refer to myself as a biological female and remain sensitive to the transgender community. I am now an “assigned female at birth” (AFAB) person.
Would love to know the person who did the “assigning.” What power that person had!!!! I’m sure that person was a male (excuse me, as “AMAB”), however. Because of my age, all doctors at the point of my birth were AMAB’s. So I’m going to use the term “HE” as my assignee for the purposes of this piece.
But just think about it! My mom (whoops, the “person assigned female at birth with a womb, i.e., a PAFABWAW)” pops one out and HE muses, “well, I’ve already decided on one AMAB for this PAFABWAW and this one looks a bit different from the previous AMAB product of conception, so think I’ll go with AFAB here to even things out.”
I wonder if HE checked with my mom, whoops, my PAFABWAW, if she, oh dear, if my PAFABWAW would prefer another AMAB instead. Probably not. More than likely HE checked with my dad, a person assigned male at birth with out a womb, i.e., a PAMABWOAW, to ask his preference.
And the PAMABWOAW, whom I called “Daddy” most definitely wanted an AFAB. Well, he really wanted a biological female, but he had to take what he got.
Anyway, a year and a half later my PAFABWAW pops out yet another one. HE thinks, “I’m really tired today, so think I’ll just stick with the AFAB here because it is easier.”
So, fast forward to my body, the AFAB one. Amazingly, I’m not just an AFAB, but I am also a PAFABWAW, so I get pregnant. In my case, my AMAB obstetrician thought, “I know her and know this AFAB would be a terrible mother to more AFABs, so we’ll go with AMAB here.”
And the same AMAB physician decided to do the same with the next two products of conception.
I admit I grieve that I can no longer call those products of conception my biologically male offspring, i.e., sons, but, instead, I do have three great AMABs and I’m just enormously proud of them.
Each married an AFAB and each of those AFAB’s turned out to be PAFABWAW’s, so now I have as biological (can I still use that word?) grandchildren five AMAB’s and three AFAB’s.
Is this a great world or what?
Yes, this is a bit crazy, and yet, I am aware that the person who told me I could not use the term “biological female” but only “assigned female at birth” had the best of motives, including this powerful sensitivity to the transgender community.
I can only imagine the anguish.
Personally, I can only imagine in internal anguish of those who do not think their “assigned gender at birth” actually fits who they are in terms of their identity. It’s got to be a tough, even nightmarish, way to live.
In my opinion, compassionate support, good therapy, plenty of space to sort these issues out safely, proper medical support and a chance to live without harassment are the only kind responses that should be coming from others.
The life realities of a biological female
But I also know what it is like to not just be an AFAB, and, let’s just be real for a minute, a biological female, and to live that out. This biological female has been raped, abused, harassed, limited, endlessly groped, denigrated, accused of being terminally wicked, and consigned to hell because I didn’t fit the perfect female stereotyping out there.
This biologically female body also birthed three children, breastfed them all for months on end, and has carried the resulting physical harm of those pregnancies since then. Of course, perhaps during the breast-feeding state, I should have been known as PAFABBNPAAMC (Person Assigned Female At Burth But Now Presenting As A Milk Cow), but that might be offensive to milk goats.
I’ve known what it is like to deal with sudden menstrual bleeding, embarrassingly and profusely showing up at the worst of moments.
I’ve dealt with the life-changing effects of menopause and now get the “privilege” of living as an invisible being, as that is what happens to the biological female whose body no longer fits the media image of the way women are “supposed” to look. Trust me on this: we are not seen any longer.
The deep vulnerability of a biological female
I am also all too aware of the deep vulnerability a biological female faces when using a public restroom. Too often, the doors don’t latch properly and there are huge gaps between the doors and the frames. People can and do look through the cracks and under/over the doors.
A woman wearing tights or slacks and in the middle of dealing with a heavy menstrual flow is not only stuck there for a while but there is no way she can move quickly to defend herself at those moments.
No one wants to feel unsafe when performing these intimate and absolutely necessary tasks of caring for our bodies. And yes, it would be unsafe to have those places open to those who are struggling with their gender issues but who have male genitalia and male bodies and natural testosterone surging through their systems.
The solution is unbelievably simple. Do what much of the rest of the world does: Make all public toilets unisex, with doors that go from floor to ceiling with proper and well-fitted locks on them.
Their entrances should be open—wide and without doors so sounds of distress can travel into the hallways. This is an easy one to solve.
The harder one is the whole locker room question, especially for female athletes, and by “female” here, I mean with breasts and wombs and vaginas. I can’t believe I have to say those words to qualify what I mean as “female,” but that is the world we live in.
Biological women have fought long and hard for parity in the athletic world. We’ve made progress, but are still a long, long way from achieving it.
It would help enormously if all transgender women would, for the next ten to twenty years, commit to staying away from competitive sports and give society time to sort this out.
I am not saying, “Stay away from athletics.” Go, play in pick-up leagues, join swimming clubs for exercise, engage in hearty games of baseball, basketball, racketball, tennis, and pickleball and goodness knows what else. Run to your heart’s content and make your mark running for charity groups. Have fun and enjoy the great camaraderie that comes with such activities.
However, if transgender females have made the transition to gain athletic privilege and position, it’s just wrong. Society has a right to be enraged and to enact legal bans.
There is no reason to reach that point. Let us all acknowledge that life is truly complicated, and we’ve got to find a way to live together. Each of us needs to exercise some limitations on our choices and our behaviors or we are going to destroy one another.
But I will tell you right now: I will NOT refer to myself as an AFAB. Despite my sincere and careful affirmation of the LGBTQIA community, that is one step too far for me.