From the article “Follow up re: “I date women and trans men” by JOS:
”Cisnormativity, essentialism, & socialization “I’m also baffled by the assumption that trans women were all successfully socialized as normative dudes. Obviously, there is no universal trans experience. In my experience, the socialization failed at every turn. Because I was never a man – that was sort of how my body was understood by default (even the shape of my body got policed) because our culture’s understanding of bodies is cisnormative. But I’ve always been a girl who got forcibly put into the boy box. I tried really hard to fit for 22 years, and I failed miserably. My failure was policed with verbal, emotional, and physical violence.”
My personal thoughts on this run parallel to JOS’s. I don’t understand the argument that all trans women were socialised male. I can’t say that there weren’t trans women who were (there are as many ways of being trans* as there are trans* people), but I know my own socialisation was more female than male. Though society wanted to put me in a box with others assigned male at birth, I did not take to that socialisation. The fact my uncles not only allowed but also encouraged my cousins to inform them when I was acting in a non-cis male manner and approved of beating me when I failed to act appropriately male is proof that the male socialisation did not adhere to me. The beatings I took from my “peers” at school for my failure to perform masculinity and the teachers who turned a blind eye to this abuse is further proof that male socialisation was not successful in me.
This lack of male socialisation, however, does not imply full female socialisation. As someone assigned male at birth I was excluded from female society and socialisation. As a result, the female socialisation I received was what I could learn through observation or through the media. Thus, my socialisation taught me to be meek, submissive, and always put everyone else’s (especially men’s) needs before my own (how else could I go thirty years hiding who I am, if not to keep everyone else happy?). I was not, however, a recipient of a female socialisation that taught me how to protect myself, believe in myself, or embrace my femininity as part of who I was. My feminity was never acknowledged as natural, real, or beautiful.
So, I ended up with a hodge-podge socialisation that told me it was my place to be submissive and pleasing and that others (particularly men) had the right to physically and emotionally abuse me when I failed to meet their standards of acceptability. A socialisation that taught me I was disgusting, corrupted, and of no value. These are the messages I internalised and these are the messages I need to incorporate or move beyond as I develop from a frightened girl who has normalised her abuse into a woman who can move through the world with poise and confidence. Does this sound like male socialisation to you?