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Natalie Wynn 🦋 @ContraPoints
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Some thoughts about MtF transition, FFS, conformity, gender stereotypes, and "cis assimilation."

If you're feeling dysphoric or likely to be triggered by a trans woman dissecting what she thinks is "male" about her face, please don't read.
Some people interpreted my last video as taking an anti-FFS (facial feminization surgery) stance, because evil Tiffany talks about wanting it.

Actually, I want FFS myself, and that scene is a parody of the way people react when I mention it.
In fact I've learned to avoid mentioning that I want FFS most of the time because people's reactions, trans and cis, range from polite neutrality to outraged indignation.
Why? Part of it is that "plastic surgery" in general is heavily stigmatized as vain, selfish, conformist, superficial, bimboish, elitist, & possibly even immoral. And as producing results that are fake, plastic, generic, unnatural, freakish.
There's also a thing where other women, trans and cis, experience my desire to change my face as an implicit critique of their own appearance (which is what happens with Jackie in the video).
Most of this stuff usually hovers in the background, and the explicit reaction is "What? Why?? Your face is perfect already! You're so beautiful! Lots of cis women have features like that! Your nose was sculpted to perfect proportions by Aphrodite herself!"
Some of this is sincere, some is motivated by the assumptions & anxieties discussed above, & some is hugbox insincerity that I'm not inclined to take any more seriously than the TERFs who try to convince me I'm so hopelessly masculine that I could never be read as a woman.
The reality is that I almost universally get "she/her" from strangers, though some of them clock me as trans. Height, voice, and mannerisms probably contribute to my clockability, as well as the face issues.
But even if I were six inches shorter and perfectly cis-passing in voice and mannerisms, I'd still want FFS. I look at my face and see masculine features. Sometimes the hugboxing makes me question the validity of my perception, but it doesn't alter it.
I want other people to see what I see, so they don't react like I'm crazy. It's more obvious in a profile-angle picture of me, like this (genuinely very beautiful) one Dan took on Saturday.
The silhouette here illustrates the areas I want to adjust: hairline, browbone, trachea. Just minor adjustments in those areas. And then I want an unapologetic Hollywood rhinoplasty because I want to be pretty. (Don't we all? Why is this considered a character flaw?)
"But I love your nose! It's so interesting! Petite noses are so generic and boring!"

Well, my voice is also pretty interesting. And I'm interestingly tall (6'1). My shoulders and chest are interestingly wide. Personally, I think that's enough interest.
I'm never going to be indistinguishable from a cis woman. I'm at best going to end up with a male skeleton trapped in a female body. Being overly cis-conformist is not high on my list of concerns. Why not change what I can?
Some trans people will shake their heads at my entire way of thinking about this. The opposing viewpoint goes like this: "Trans women are women and you are valid no matter what you look like. Don't conform, revolt. Stop changing your face and start changing the world."
There's def something to this, and I think that's a good psychological place to wind up at the end of transition. You can't change everything about yourself, and there comes a point where the goal should be accepting yourself as you are, society be damned, haters be fucked.
But personally, I think the goal of transition is more than self-acceptance. It is to become your gender, to live your gender. Which genuinely raises the classic TERF gotcha question: "What does it mean to be a woman?" "Define womanhood."
I think there are two answers, a pragmatic one and a philosophical one.
The pragmatic answer is that a woman is anyone who identifies as a woman. It's pragmatic because there are many situations where it's best to *act as if it is true*—e.g. a trans woman who hasn't transitioned yet but requests she/her pronouns is entitled to that respect.
However "a woman is anyone who identifies as a woman" is not a philosophically good answer. It tells you absolutely nothing about what being a woman is. So how do we answer philosophically?
Well like all philosophical questions "What is womanhood?" has no definitive answer. But I'll tell you my thoughts. Remember, I'm a Wittgenstein gal: I don't think the answer can involve "identifying" because meaning is public & practical, not private & psychological.
The way I think of it, the purpose of my transition is to become a woman *for most intents and purposes.* That's a very public, social goal that primarily involves the interactions I have with people around me.
When I came out and said "I am a trans woman," that was not so much a metaphysical proclamation as a statement of intent to alter my behavior and appearance, and a request for other people to treat me and talk about me in a certain way.
What I really want is not for people to call me a woman because they pity me, sympathize with me, or respect me. It's better than them calling me a man, but only as a last resort.
Really I want them to call me a woman because it feels natural to do so, because I just seem like a woman to them. This is not something I can just demand, so a lot of the burden is on me.
I have to change my appearance, my voice, my mannerisms not with the aim of becoming a woman in some metaphysical sense (a nonsensical idea) but of becoming a woman *socially* by appearing & interacting "like a woman" with other people.
This is of course an extremely subjective and relative thing. Some people saw me as a woman before I ever did myself. Other people never will, no matter how I look and act, because they know that I'm trans and have decided on principle that I cannot be a woman.
But subjective isn't the same as unpredictable. There is a lot of intersubjective agreement about what sorts of things make a person seem manly or womanly. And the point of transitioning is largely to present female to that collective perception.
A year ago very few people thought of me as a woman. Now a majority of people probably do. My goal is to push that trend as far as I can, look back on my progress and one day say, "You know what? Good enough."
Because I think about transition this way, I still use the term "MtF," which is now often considered outmoded and inaccurate, since, this way of thinking goes, trans women were always women, even before they knew it.
This is another issue where I think there is a difference between the pragmatic and philosophical approach. I don't like being called "he" with reference to my pre-transition self, because it feels like I'm being misgendered now.
So it's best practice to refer to trans people as if they were always their gender. But pedantically speaking, before I transitioned, I was a man *for most intents and purposes.* I was socially and publicly a man. And I'm now escaping that past situation—MtF.
When people use my deadname and old pronouns, even when referring to the time when I used them, that impedes the escape.
This is kind of a scary way of thinking about things because it means that trans people aren't completely in control of our own genders. But isn't that, in fact, the predicament we're in?
The reason misgendering feels so horrible is that, in that moment, the person misgendering you is effectively barring you from being your gender, at least socially. That's the reason it feels oppressive. You're literally being deprived of something important to you.
People who refuse to accept trans people for what they are, or what they're becoming, simultaneously attack us for not conforming ("you still have obvious male features") and for conforming ("you're just perpetuating gender stereotypes").
Throughout this thread I've referred to my transition as an effort to seem "like a woman" to other people. So, what does "like a woman" mean? People who haven't thought this through will look at me and say "he thinks long hair and makeup makes him a woman!"
No. Hair, makeup, surgery, voice training, mannerisms—each of these is only a small part of a general effort to change how I'm perceived, how I'm treated by others, how I interact with others.
It's the net effect of these things—my acquired social position as a woman—that makes it philosophically sound to call me a woman. The minutiae of how I achieve that end are not particularly relevant.
What it means to seem "like a woman" to the collective perception is, of course, in some sense to resemble a prototype—stereotype if you insist. But women are all individuals, and no one conforms perfectly.
The goal of my transition is merely to conform *enough* to elicit that mysterious "seems like a woman" perception. The "trans people think gender is stereotypes" argument ignores that most trans people are much less conforming than most cis people, and are attacked for that too.
Now, let's circle this back around to the politics of FFS before I spend the rest of my life writing this thread.
The "FFS is bad because it's conformist and trans is beautiful" argument strikes me as somewhat disingenuous. Because you could say the same thing about literally any other aspect of transition. But trans people only say it about FFS.
I think what's actually going on here is fucking neoliberalism.
This tweet by @theorygurl makes the interesting suggestion that non-conformity among trans people is perhaps insincerely vaunted as principled resistance to assimilation, when it is in fact often "wildly underfunded incompetence vis-à-vis the norm."
For my own part, I'll say that if I could say a magic word and be able to look, sound, and act within some normal range of cis female appearance/behavior, I absolutely would. Any non-conformity on my part is the result of my own failures, and not of principled refusal.
I suspect this true of a large percentage of trans people, though not all. So it's worth pointing out that lack of funding is one of the major obstacles to maximally effective transition for most trans people.
FFS is one of the most expensive transition procedures, and it is rarely if ever covered by insurance in the US. It has therefore become a point of economic class division within the trans community, with all the resentment, insecurity, and distrust that comes with that.
So the problem is literally capitalism, but I'm still going to butcher my face because Patreon.
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