I am the partner of a wonderful trans man. I am also a cis female, which has, sadly, made me a victim to the big, bad patriarchy my whole life. I struggled, at first, to accept my partner’s transition as many partners do. I was afraid I would be subject to overpowering masculine energy, among other things. If you look at all of the happy trans couples out in the world right now, I’d venture to guess that a great number of them had some fear to work through, at one point or another, regarding what transition would mean for their relationship dynamic. Of course, I came to realize that being a man doesn’t always mean being a predator. Even when you know that deep down, navigating the world as a cis woman can just be freaking hard, ok?
My partner and I would have many conversations about gender and masculinity over the course of his transition. What I’ve come to decide is that trans men are the solution to gender inequality. Cis men have a horrible learning curve when it comes to understanding women. It has nothing to do with the stereotypes that men are less intelligent or less mature than women. In my opinion, how you’re socialized in this world is the only viable excuse for ignorance. People who are raised and socialized as male (at least in some, if not most, cultures) are taught not to express emotions, let alone explore them. They’re told not to look too deeply, not to worry too much about practicing empathy, and not to value equality. I realize those are huge generalizations, but they are, unfortunately, truths to much of the American male population. Not every man is going to be sexist or become a predator because of being socialized that way, but it’s an opportunity to head down that path. Gender norms in our society are the gateway drugs to inequality, insensitivity, and yes, even sex crimes.
So, what do we do about it? Well, if ignorance is the problem, then education is the answer. And who is capable of understanding masculinity enough to be easily understood by cis men while also being socialized as a woman? You guessed it. TRANS MEN! All of the lovely, beautiful, inspiring trans men of the world have the significant responsibility to undermine the patriarchy in a way that the rest of us can’t. That may sounds like a lot of pressure for a group of people that are just trying to live authentically day-to-day without backlash or discrimination, but (as the old cliché goes) with great power comes great responsibility. And, boys, your transition is just the ceremony of allowing yourself to accept the power that has been inside you all along.
The good news is that all you have to do to change the world is be yourself. Treat the women in your life as your equals. Own your emotions. Own your experiences. When you show the male community (and, really, society at large) that you are unapologetic about throwing out harmful male stereotypes, people will look to you to see what the alternative is. Give cis men the gift of compassion by showing them that they don’t have to live under the crushing weight of gender norms. Help them realize that they aren’t dumb, morally handicapped, or helpless to their sexual urges. Most importantly, let them in to the complexity of your true selves so that they can see that it’s possible to be a “real” man and be unique and human all at the same time. In doing so, you can change the freaking world.