I just watched a heartwarming video from NowThis in which a trans woman tells the story of her grandmother’s affirming and loving reaction to her coming-out.
I shared it. And then I foolishly read the comments, which were predictably full of transphobic dead-naming and mockery.
One woman named Tammy quasi-mocked her (but was perhaps serious) saying, “I wish we could give the males who want to be females the ability to have menstrual periods and children, bet then they would want to go back to being a male.”
And it broke my heart — not just for the trans woman, but for myself, and for all the infertile women out there who would give almost anything to know the pain of menstruation and labor and childbirth.
I still have the period pain because I was lucky to keep my hormone-producing ovaries after an emergency hysterectomy saved my life. I’m grateful for those hormones but every month like clockwork, I and so many other women whose uteruses failed, were inhospitable, were riddled with disease, or which had to be removed like mine to save our lives or simply never existed in the first place, have a perpetual reminder of what we don’t ever get to have.
Doulas and midwives.
Ultrasounds and sonograms and fetal heartbeat monitors.
Prenatal breathing classes.
Maternity clothes and maternity photos.
What the Tammys of this world don’t realize is that when they half-jokingly (or seriously — honestly it doesn’t matter if it’s a joke or not) tell trans women that their lack-of-uterus or ovaries or cramps or “wrong” reproductive organs makes them less of a woman or not one at all, they’re saying the same thing to me.
They are unwomaning me.
They’re unwomaning all the women like me.
And in a flutter of casual cruelty, they’re betraying how deeply ungrateful they are for their womaninity.
I remember being that girl in college who rocked back and forth in the fetal position on the dorm room floor begging that God or someone would rip my uterus out of me, so epic was the pain and nausea of my menstrual cramps.
And literally, if there’s one thing I could go back and tell that idiot 19-year-old, it would be this: Treasure your cramps, sit in this pain, and know that it is a blessing — not a curse — because it is your body preparing you for the gift of bringing life into this world. Don’t ever, Ever, EVER be the fool who takes it for granted or curses the flow.
I said as much to Tammy in my reply to her ridiculously ignorant and cruel comment. Because she could not be more wrong.
We women — cisgender and trans alike — who already unwoman ourselves regularly, already feel inferior because our bodies feel incomplete or broken or just not right, wish we had uteruses.
More than that, though, we wish people like Tammy had a heart.
Ovaries and uteri and breasts and cervixes are not the measure of a Woman. We are so, so much more than our bodies and the narratives culture has written about them might have you believe. With or without any part, we are women.
To my trans sisters out there:
I see you.
I love you.
You are (woman) enough.