Transwomen VS Ciswomen: The Differences | MTF Transgender Woman
The debate around whether transgender women are "real" women compared to cisgender (cis) women is complex, with reasonable perspectives on all sides. While both trans and cis women identify as women, their life experiences often diverge in profound ways.
At the same time, trans and cis women face many common challenges due to living in a patriarchal society. This article will explore some key differences and similarities in the lives of transwomen VS ciswomen.
Fighting to Be Seen as a Woman
For transgender women, a core struggle is being recognized and accepted as women in a transphobic society. Trans individuals are often forced to suppress their identities as they grow up. Transitioning between genders involves overcoming internalized stigma and shame.
Many trans women feel pressure to conform to feminine beauty standards in order to "pass" as women. This can involve wearing makeup, growing out hair, undergoing surgeries, training one's voice, and dressing in a stereotypically feminine style.
Even with these efforts, many people continue viewing trans women as "men pretending to be women."
Dating and relationships pose unique hurdles. Trans women often endure rejection and humiliation when romantic interests learn they are transgender. The inability to bear children also impacts dating prospects and womanhood more broadly.
Meanwhile, cis women take for granted being seen as women from birth. Cis women certainly face oppression for being women, but not the fundamental battle for recognition trans women wage daily.
Different Socialization Into Womanhood
Cis women experience socialization and indoctrination into womanhood beginning in early childhood. Expectations around feminine behavior, communication style, appearance, and acceptable interests get transmitted at a young age through family, media, and other institutions.
Some cis women conform closely to these feminine ideals, spending considerable time and money on fashion, makeup, and body modification.
Other cis women reject traditional expectations, embracing more masculine styles and interests. But neither group questions their status as women.
In contrast, trans women are socialized as boys growing up. They are punished for expressing femininity and steering toward masculine pursuits. This makes the process of affirming a female identity in adulthood more challenging. Trans women have to learn how to perform womanhood later in life.
No Gender Dysphoria
Cis women never experience the distressing condition of gender dysphoria that trans individuals endure.
Gender dysphoria stems from the mismatch between one's assigned gender at birth and their internal gender identity. This can manifest as extreme discomfort with one's body, voice, name, and pronouns, and being treated as the wrong gender.
Trans women frequently feel dysphoria towards their masculine features before transitioning, especially their genitalia. For many, dysphoria is alleviated through medical steps like hormone therapy, surgeries, and vocal training. Cis women do not have to take these dramatic measures to feel at home in their bodies.
Trans women's biological characteristics often diverge from those of cis women, even after transitioning. For example, trans women do not menstruate or experience pregnancy, while these are defining aspects of cis womanhood.
Taking estrogen impacts features like breast growth, body fat distribution, and skin texture for trans women. However, it does not overwrite all the effects of going through male puberty.
Trans women's athletic performance, strength, and size tend to be closer to cis men's, causing controversies around transgender athletes.
Shared Experiences of Womanhood
Despite the many differences between trans and cis women outlined above, the two groups have core common experiences as well. All women face the impacts of living in a male-dominated society, from casual sexism to the threat of violence.
Trans and cis women are equally vulnerable to sexual assault and domestic abuse. Both groups earn lower pay and confront workplace discrimination compared to men. Strict beauty standards, expectations of caretaking, and restrictions on reproductive freedom affect all women.
By recognizing these shared challenges, trans and cis women can find solidarity in working to transform patriarchal structures. Coalitions across differences strengthen feminist movements.
The womanhood journeys of trans and cis women contain important distinctions, from socialization to biology. Trans women's unique struggles should not be erased in the name of false equivalence.
At the same time, trans and cis women have core unifying experiences as women in a sexist society. Appreciating both the differences and common ground can lead to greater understanding and empathy.