What makes a woman?

I have oft wondered about the meeting of feminism and transgenderism on the issue of femininity and the female appearance.

Feminism says a woman is not defined by her clothes, and she can wear-and not wear-what she chooses. A woman can eschew dresses, skirts, makeup and do things that society says boys should do and still be a woman.

For transgenders, it does not seem to be this simple.

Transgenderism says people are not defined by their biological parts-a woman born with a penis, and without a uterus and vagina, and with high levels of testosterone is still a woman. It does however seem that in the transgender community, the dress is what ultimately makes the woman.

When a person comes out as Trans, the accepted step of action is to start dressing like the gender they identify with. Transwomen grow out their hair, put on makeup and start wearing dresses and heels. Transmen do the opposite.

So when it is said that having a vagina does not make one a woman, I wonder: “so is it makeup and dresses that make one a woman?”

What would the reaction be if a biological man came out as a woman but also wanted to continue dressing like a man, because we have said that women don’t have to wear dresses to be women? Most likely: “what’s the point of transitioning only to continue acting like a man? Can a transgender woman be a tomboy in the way biological women can be? Can a Transwoman decide to eschew dresses and wear suits, or is wanting to wear dresses and makeup a fundamental part of being a Transwoman?

Is being a woman in a Trans context therefore mostly about adopting the social beauty standards ascribed to women? Not all biological women like makeup and being feminine, so can a Transwoman also not want to be feminine or is this a moot point as the whole point of being a Transwoman is to be feminine?

If a person was born male in the biological sense, but identifies as female in the social sense, then does social appearance take prominence in what makes a woman? Is it a mistake to attempt to reconcile biological and transgender women?

Just random thoughts that swirl around aimlessly in my head.


They turn their faces to look at me
I know what is coming-my heart beats fast in anticipation
Their mouths form the familiar words
and I hear the question before it leaves their tongue

“Do you have any plans for the weekend?”

How many times will they ask this questions before it dawns on them that the answer is always the same?

No. Nope. Nein. Na. Non. Rara. Nehin. Mba. Nyet. Naw. Não. Naheen. Iie. Ochi. 

How long before they realise I have no tribe to share my days with
How long before it dawns on them that I am just wasting away my youth
doing nothing, creating no memories?

Why must they torture me so?
Do they keep asking in the hopes that one day it will be different
or is this just the dreaded small talk for which there is no cure?

A chirpy smile appears on my face
I inhale and infuse some joy into my voice

“Oh nothing much. I’m just hanging out with my friends.”
“That’s nice.”
“Yeah I’m so tired. I just need to relax”
“Yeah it’s nice to just relax sometimes.”

Rinse and repeat.