“Welcome to womanhood”
The first time I heard this phrase, I was elated – I’d made it! I was a woman! And that phrase seemed particularly important to me as a male to female transgender person, as it was a validation of my identity.
The second, third and fourth time I heard it, I suppose it was still very flattering. The 20th and 30th times, perhaps not so much. By the time I’d heard “Welcome to womanhood” several dozen times, it was starting to wear a bit fucking thin.
I mean how many damn times can I become a woman? Rather that validating my womanhood, it was starting to INVALIDATE my femininity and all my prior experiences.
The hard part is that I know people mean well when they say this to me. It’s supposed to be complimentary – and frankly, it would be rude to spit in their face and tell them to shut the fuck up. So part of my purpose in writing this is to educate the people reading it: please stop saying this to trans women (and trans men – “Welcome to manhood”).
Here’s the thing; I don’t actually need to be told this. For me, my ‘womanhood’ started for me the day I decided to transition. It didn’t start when I fell over in heels and a girlfriend said “Oh, that happens to us all, welcome to womanhood.” Nor did it start when I rubbed an eye and got eyeshadow all over my face and someone exclaimed “Welcome to womanhood!” It didn’t start when I got mood swings from hormones, breast pain, a ripped stocking, lipstick on my teeth, stretch marks, my first bra or blood coming out of my vagina.
The only person who gets to decide that I’m a woman is ME.
It galls me somewhat that cis women only need to bleed to be considered women, to be “welcomed to womanhood”. Hell, if we’re to be completely honest here, they only need to be born to be “welcomed to womanhood”.
It’s just another one of the many othering and invalidating behaviours that cis women push onto trans women – arbitrating our femininity.
So instead of trying to make a trans woman feel accepted and validated by welcoming her to womanhood, or saying “you’re nothing but a woman to me”, instead simply treat her as you would treat all your cis friends.
Because that’s the most validating thing you could possibly do.