Published on Medium, Jennifer Coates’ “I Am A Transwoman. I Am In The Closet. I Am Not Coming Out.” is a thoughtful, empathetic, challenging personal essay about identity.
With pathos and wit, she details her own journey with gender dysphoria, her relationship with both masculinity and femininity, and her critiques of the current wave of feminism. The lengthy piece is well worth a read in its entirety, particularly because it touches on so many complex ideas in such a nuanced way. But here’s an excerpt:
I am nineteen years old.
I am in a gender studies class. I am still bewildered that the subject I have been fixated on, reading about, and studying obsessively since my life began is now a thing my friends want to take classes on.
I am told that masculinity exists in opposition to femininity and that it is unequivocally toxic. I think about the cruel male “mentors” I’ve been assigned throughout my life I think about the football player’s roving knuckle, and hundreds and hundreds of other things.
I think also about the kind, self-sacrificing male mentors who have found me. And I think about the boys I stayed up late telling stories with. And the boys I kissed. And boys who supported me. And boys I supported. And hundreds and hundreds of other things. And I think about me.
I raise my hand and timidly, carefully disagree. I know what it looks like.
My professor rolls her eyes. The rest of the class are ciswomen; they laugh. The good qualities I’m talking about are actually femininity, they explain.
I say that I feel like claiming that self-sacrifice and kindness are feminine values that men are borrowing is like claiming that they are Jewish values that Buddhists are borrowing.
One of the students tells me that I can’t be objective about masculinity because I am a straight cis male, and that I should shut up and listen. Are these my people?
I don’t correct them. I never correct anyone.
It is interesting to see where people insist proximity to a subject makes one informed, and where they insist it makes them biased. It is interesting that they think it’s their call to make.
You can read the full piece on Medium.