Navigating through life from both perspectives of gender has allowed me to experience first hand the differences in how men and women are treated in everyday life. From daily interactions, I have discovered that it is truly “a man’s world” out there. Below I will highlight examples pertaining to myself and my experiences.
I have worked various jobs throughout my life; from retail and customer service jobs to landscaping and golf course positions. Over the years I have experienced differences in how I was treated when applying for these positions and how I was treated throughout my time working there. First I’d like to touch on issues that have happened during an interview. From a woman’s perspective, I have experienced issues with sexual comments, doubt of skill set and being overlooked for a position I was qualified for. In many interviews, cis-men (cis-gendered: personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex) have made me feel like I was being judged based on my looks. There has been comments and remarks on my looks, making me feel very uncomfortable during the interview process. Now fast forward a few years after I’ve started my transition and can pass as a cis-male, there is a totally different experience. In male-dominated industries or jobs that require more lifting I have gotten interviews and jobs with ease, especially if a man is doing the hiring. It has felt like a boys club in interviews and there was no uncomfortable feeling because of my looks or gender. The vibes were different and I felt as though I was seen as more qualified for the position just based on my gender. The sad truth I’ve discovered is that women really do get judged on their looks and questioned for their abilities to perform a job to the standards of a man because of their gender.
The next issue is one that still occurs in the work place today; pay scale based on gender. I understand that not all businesses operate like this, but I have experienced both sides of determining wage for a position based on my gender. Once passing as a “cis-male”, I can tell you that I have received a higher wage than my female co-workers, for the same position at work. When requesting a higher wage than what is presented to me, I have found that it is easier to achieve passing as a pressumably cis-male, than it is being female.
The societal privilege of being treated as a “cis white male” is something that I have experienced and observed in day-to-day life. Since transitioning, the sad truth of the matter is that I have had a pretty easy go in life based on the colour of my skin and gender I identify as. This is evident now that I am viewed as a “cis white male” in the world, and I have realized that yes, white cis-gendered men do have an easier time navigating this world. The way people look at me day to day, or don’t notice me, I should say, has differed from when I identified as female and a lesbian. At times I miss being “different” from everyone else, in terms of my identity. When I identified as a lesbian, I was accepted and celebrated in my community of other queer humans. The way I dressed and presented myself came off as most definitely queer and was something that others picked up on in the queer community. Now I feel as if I just blend in. My “gaydar” (yes it’s a real thing) feels like a one way street now. I miss that connection of just knowing, without even having to talk to someone, that you are in the same awesome community as they are. Anytime I spot another queer person around town, I notice them instantly, but now I feel like I don’t get the same response back. I am seen as a straight cis-gendered man. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not a hate on all straight cis-gendered men out there, it’s just an observation, but that is not how I identify. Because I blend in, I feel safer in public, but I also still feel alone, not really a part of a community. Im understanding now that only you can truly know your narrative, no body knows until you share that with them.
Something I can take from experiencing both sides of gender, is the amount of respect and understanding I have for women; the women in my life, my partner, my mom, my sister and my friends. I have so much respect for each and every one of them and can relate to them on a whole other level than any cis-gendered man could. I have walked in their shoes and have experienced life through the eyes of a woman. It has made me into the man I am today. There are countless moments I have wished and prayed to have been born into the body that I have created on my own, but I also believe that I wouldn’t be the man I am today without starting my life in a female body. The compassion I have, the sensitive and caring qualities are part of what make up who I am today. Yes it’s hard to be who I am, but I am here, I am proud and I am thriving.