One of my girlfriends recently commented on how I tend to gush about how cool it is to be a woman. It seems like that's given her more appreciation for it, which his great, but her comment made me more aware of my attitude and led me to question it.
It's true that I'm thoroughly enjoying the freedom to explore my own femininity and sexuality. I do enjoy every aspect of womanhood I am able to participate in (except the tendency of some people to objectify, sexualize, or ignore me). But as I consider it, I think the real thing I'm finding joy in is being myself, in being connected with myself and others. It isn't femininity and womanhood per se, but the integrity, beauty, connection, autonomy, clarity, and sovereignty of my own life as a woman that are so rewarding. In my inner life, it's having hormones that correspond with my subconscious sex, so that my mind feels integrated instead of semi-schitzophrenic, and beginning to enjoy my body and my breasts and the way I look in the mirror.
All of these are miracles of wonder to me, but they are hardly unique, and they really don't indicate that being a woman is any more special than being a man. My trans men friends all report feeling the same way, just going in a different direction. For them, the joy is all in masculinity and manhood. (I know, I don't get it.)
The real meaning beneath the joy I find in my womanhood is found in the Bard's immortal statement: "To thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man." As Dr. Irene says (in a different context that makes this one no less true), "Allowing someone else to define who we are, we lose our ability to discover and grow inwardly. We no longer are able to discern a truth from a lie. For many of us, we have accepted lies for so long, that finding out what is true takes time. Having done this very thing, I know how difficult the journey to self-discovery can be."
It's as if Dr. Irene were talking about trans people, instead of survivors of abuse. I relate completely. For the first time in my life, I am being true to my own self. And that feels damn good.