Being a transgender woman, I’ve had some experience with both.
Things I miss about being male:
- Peeing standing up – peeing while standing up and wearing a skirt or dress was extremely convenient, I don’t know why more men don’t wear skirts!
- Physical strength – testosterone gives a boost to muscle mass and strength, and when I suppressed mine, I lost it. Carrying in groceries takes multiple trips now, opening jars requires more planning and strategy, and moving furniture wears me out.
- Security – I worry for my physical safety in ways which were foreign to me while presenting as male. I am weaker, I am slower, and to top it all off, I am a member of a group of people who have historically suffered violence and discrimination simply for existing. While I intellectually understood that women may feel nervous in a dark parking lot or empty street, I never really got it until I was that woman – vulnerable. This is probably one of the worst things about being a woman – near constant vulnerability with only limited resources to mitigate it.
Things I love about being female:
- It feels so right! Gender Dysphoria is a horrible thing, and having a body which matches my experienced gender is a feeling I doubt I will ever take for granted.
- Freedom! I can express myself in ways which are looked down upon for men. If I’m sad (or really happy), I cry. If I want to express some flair, I can do my fingernails in bright colors or designs, or I can color my hair, or I can wear different clothes – patterns, florals, dresses, leggings; I can put my hair up or wear it down, curl it or leave it straight. I can hug other people in greeting or goodbye, I can sing and dance even when there’s no music. It isn’t that all these things were completely off-limits to men, but there were costs (sometimes substantial) to engaging in these things.
- Support – women support each other in ways that men just don’t. I can call up a girl friend and just dump all my emotions out and she’ll help me pick them back up and make sense of them all. Back when people thought I was a man, any time I showed any emotions which weren’t on the approved list, I was told to “man up” (ugh! I hate that phrase!) and stop being such a girl. Turns out I was a girl all along.
- Access to emotions – this is probably the best thing for me. Under the influence of testosterone, my emotions felt kind of disconnected and hard to access. They had to be really strong to break through and for me to be aware of them. Once I got my testosterone down and estrogen to female-typical levels, the world of emotion was finally available to me. I could detect the nuances of what I was feeling and decipher what was influencing those emotions. I could finally drag out the baggage of years of repressed emotions and deal with them. Certainly part of that was letting go of the social expectations for men which I’d tried to meet for so long, but I have a number of trans men friends who report that they felt their emotions were overwhelming until they got on testosterone— there has to be something about hormones which affects emotions.
All in all, I really don’t miss having a male body and trying to fit in as a man — it never came naturally to me and always felt so wrong. Having a female body and being able to live as the woman I really am has been such a huge blessing; I would never ever go back!