I need to preface this article a little bit, I am a 40 year old intersex trans woman. I was assigned the male gender at birth, realized later I identified as female (as early as 4, but acted on transition at age 22), and even later, I was diagnosed with a medical condition called “mosaicism” , which is considered medically “Klinefelter’s Syndrome”. This means a portion of my cells are constructed with a chromosomal structure of 47(XXY) instead of 46(XY) – male, or 46(XX) – female.
When I was 18, I was put in a place that was going to “cure” me, through extremely violent brainwashing means. I was raped (the people who were the instruments of that were just as much victims as I was, but more on that later), starved, beaten, humiliated, and deprived of sleep. Later on these experiences coalesced into a rather angry young woman, who embraced 2nd wave feminist ideals with all my heart, including misandry.
My own journey was painful, and in many ways, I think productive, it brought me to a view of the world, ultimately, which saw all forms of injustice as anathema to me. However, I think that it took journeys through being a part of injustice that caused me to see things in a very different light.
For me, it was almost knee jerk. Many of the people involved in my abuse were male, from the time I was a child, up through my 20’s, I survived some rather horrific abuse. I don’t say this because I want anyone to feel sorry for me. It’s my story, and ultimately, my responsibility to recover from it. I hope that the lessons hard-won for me, will help others in the future.
In my mid-20’s I moved to a place in this country that probably has the highest per-capita rate of lesbians in the country. I settled down into my lesbian life, and was directly influenced by a lot of 2nd wave feminists. As a trans woman, I wasn’t immediately accepted, but I never pretended to be something I was not. A woman who was assigned female gender ID at birth. I simply was not, but my experiences in many mays mirrored theirs, and I was respected for being “real” – in fact I did not present overly femme, and actually preferred butch presentation, with just enough gender cues that I would not be consistently misgendered.
Misandry became a part of my being. It really did, deeply ingrained. Even as recently as 4 years ago, I visited some of my ex-girlfriend’s friends with her, and we all stayed in the same hotel room. Even though her friend, (whom I will refer to as John, a pseudonym) was extremely respectful, very unassuming, and extremely intelligent and ethical, when I was asleep and he was up and around, my ex-girlfriend said I was very jumpy, even reacting in my sleep. It might be said though that “John” was the gateway to realizing the very things that make up my own beliefs about feminism today. As I got to know him, I realized in many ways, this man was even more of a true feminist than I was.
I was a Misandrist, and while many 2nd wavers I knew (and loved) kept telling me that misandry couldn’t exist, because women were the ones who were oppressed, it started to become extremely clear: Everyone, including men, are harmed by inequality. This man, who has become one of my very dear friends, is not what society could consider masculine – he was of slight build, quiet with people he doesn’t know well, wasn’t very “handy”, certainly not athletic. However, I had come to see, this was the most “manly” man that I knew. He took responsibility for his own actions, he acted out of love, while still acknowledging anger towards injustice, he cared deeply for his friends, and did not like drama. He was, in many ways, the epitomy of the target of toxic masculinization, yet he never gave in to those social pressures. He was who he was, no bones about it.
That was the door. Over the past few years, I have seen a childhood friend (who is male) who is a sexual abuse survivor make huge strides in communicating to the world that men are victims (and survivors) of sexual violence as well, seeing the underpinnings of patriarchy that ultimately lead to that idea of “toxic masculinity”, the expectation that men should live up to certain ideals, which are impossible, as human beings are emotional people, and their physical reality is diverse, and ignoring that for half of the people on the earth is dangerous. It leads to attitudes where women raping men is seen as “lucky” – yet the same violence perpetrated against women is “heinous”. I have news for the world, it is all horrific and damaging. The realization that by “hating men”, that I played a part in injustice, was a hard pill to swallow. Gender inequality creates a situation in which nobody wins.
And that realization, has made me a stronger, and deeper feminist, and given me an appreciation for the idea of equality for all humans.