How Do You Know I’m Not a Woman?

On Monday, New York City’s mayor signed an executive order requiring that people in city-owned buildings be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, regardless of their anatomy, and without having to present any kind of proof-of-gender documentation.

I have discoursed upon this subject before, but its intricacies continue to fascinate me, so may the rare return visitor pardon the deja read.

Let’s say I enter a gym, sign up for a membership, pay my fee, the receptionist welcomes me to the club, wishes me a great workout, points me in the general direction of the locker rooms, but instead of walking into the men’s locker room, I walk into the women’s locker room and start changing into my workout clothes.

Presumably, it won’t be long before someone approaches and politely (or not so politely) informs me that I must have taken a wrong turn, and strongly suggests that I haul my ass ASAP over to where the guys change and shower.

Whereupon I explain to that person that I’m a woman, for which reason the women’s locker room is precisely where I belong.

To which that person replies that I’m clearly not a woman and doubles down on her injunction that I extract myself from the ladies’ locker room forthwith, or else security will be notified.

The question arises, how can this person presume to have x-ray vision into my soul so as to be able to tell whether it is male or female? Who, other than myself, is in any position whatsoever to divine my true gender and hence determine which locker room I belong in? And based on what?

Only I can possibly know which gender I identify with, no matter how often, or how rarely, and to whom I may have elected to come out in the past.

Am I not a woman because I’m wearing pants and no makeup? Am I not a woman because my hair is short?

While fashion and styling choices often do correlate with gender stereotypes, they are hardly a dispositive criterion for telling who’s male and who’s female. If they were, any short-haired woman in jeans and sneakers and without makeup would be a man, and that’s obviously not the case. (Even if a woman were to never rock a skirt or high heels, never put on makeup, and always keep her hair shorter than shoulder-length, that wouldn’t make her not a woman.)

Am I not a woman because I have a male anatomy?

That, of course, would be the most shockingly uninformed and antediluvian argument against my being female, for by now every enlightened member of society ought to have gotten the memo that one’s biological sex need not match one’s true gender. The entire transgender movement, after all, is premised on the assumption that biological sex does not determine gender.

Am I not a woman because I am sexually attracted to women only?

That argument also falls flat on its face, for so are lesbians, and lesbians are neither not women, nor are they banned from using women’s locker rooms on grounds that they might sneak prurient peeks at the other girls in various stages of undress.

Am I not a woman because I haven’t had “gender reassignment” surgery, and because I cannot flash documentation from a medical professional that identifies me as a woman?

Plenty of self-professed transgender individuals haven’t had surgery or hormone treatments—or haven’t had those yet—nor do they possess authoritative transgender IDs, yet woe betide any transphobic behind-the-times boor so insensitive and intolerant as to dare refer to them by the pronouns that match their biological sex rather than their according-to-themselves gender!

(With respect to identifying documentation, as the voter ID controversy has taught us, from the progressive point of view, the requirement to produce documentation in order to be allowed to exercise a fundamental right constitutes an egregious form of discrimination in itself.)

Moreover, gender-affirming medical procedures do not turn a person into a man or a woman respectively. Transgender 101 has it that everyone is already born with his or her true gender firmly in place, no different from his or her biological sex. Hence, in case of a mismatch, these procedures merely affirm the patient’s innate gender after the fact by modifying his or her sex (at least to the degree to which this can be reasonably differentiated from a mere mutilation, and opinions may vary on that). In other words, a transgender woman doesn’t become a woman by having a sex-change. She’s having a sex-change because she’s always been a woman, i.e., even before the sex change and independently thereof.

Am I not a woman because I seem comfortable in my male body?

Well, how can you tell? I may be a health freak terrified of any potential side effects of surgery and popping hormones, perhaps so much so that I’ve convinced myself that I’m perfectly content with my male anatomy lest I develop the unsettling urge to have myself put under the knife.

Or I could be a tomboyish lesbian that kinda gets a kick out of her body-soul mismatch.

So how do you know I’m not a woman?

Your best shot at a plausible argument is probably that you doubt very much that I, myself, really believe that I’m a woman.

Maybe so, but even if I don’t, over the course of my life I’ve been accused of being so utterly misguided—as an example, just consider the point I’m trying to make in this post—and “in denial” about so many things by so many people, might I not also be terribly misguided and in denial about my true gender? Even if I ever so sincerely were to deem myself a man, what would that prove—other than, perhaps, the depth of my denial?

So the question is not only, how do you know I’m not a woman; but also, how do I know I’m not a woman?

  • Cheri

    You are saying that if you call yourself a woman, or believe you are a woman, then who am I to question your self-identification. I can call myself a hummingbird and believe I am one, but when I drop my drawers at the gym, there are no feathers.

    • Cyberquill

      Keep in mind that identity and physical characteristics are independent of one another. You can have some feathers implanted. It’s called species-affirming surgery.

      • CHERI

        i live in LGBT land and am over all the discussion that goes on with the fervor of a beehive.

      • Cyberquill

        So what’s the buzz there on permanently removing the T from LGBT, as it doesn’t denote a sexual orientation?