am i a real woman?

Some will say I am not a real woman. No, I was born with female genitalia (which will satisfy many). I live as a woman and I usually identify as one. I am generally treated as a woman, because I present as female.

But, you see, I am not a “real” mother. Therefore I am not a “real enough” woman to meet all standards. Well, I care for children, but that doesn’t always count.

But, still. I dress feminine. I “act” like a woman. I “look” like a woman. I’m told I’m a woman (whenever I ‘act’ like one, at least). Whatever that means. I suppose I feel” like a woman. But that’s not really enough. Not for them.

To some, I am not a real woman.

Because I have never, and likely never will, give birth, I am not seen as a “real” woman by all of society. Someone asked, “Does a real woman have to bleed out of her vagina to be a woman?” Well, frankly, according to certain societal norms, yes. She does.

How many ciswomen feel like they have lost a piece of their identity after menapause? How many feel less of a woman, because they never had children? Perhaps they couldn’t have children, in fact. Being born female does not mean you have the ability to give birth. Sometimes things just…don’t work.

Now many do see me as a woman, because that has been the identity I’ve assumed.

Plenty of my friends and chosen family will tell me, “You needn’t get pregnant to prove you are a woman.” You are a woman, without that. Just look around you. So I do. And it’s generally reassuring. People who say I am a woman because I say I am a woman, without demanding any proof or validation. I see the transwoman who cannot get pregnant and, if she can be accepted as a ‘real’ woman, so can I, no?

I don’t need to be anything particular to be a woman. Gender roles and concepts are fluid now, changing, becoming what we want them to be….and that is a reassuring thing. That we can make a world that works for us, rather than societal norms.

Which is reassuring, but it doesn’t erase the years upon years of being made to feel that, yes, that IS what made me a woman. From the day I got my period, “You’re a woman now!” to the conversations “Are you going to have kids?” or worse, “When do you plan on starting a family?” as if it were a foregone conclusion.

This needs to be part of the conversation.

Giving birth isn’t what makes you a woman. If that was the case most transwomen would not be women, nor would many ciswomen. Nor any on the non binary spectrum that could not or did not want to have a child. We need to stop equivocating womanhood with motherhood– and specifically biological motherhood (we still do NOT automatically include adoptive, step, foster mothers as “real” mothers). Until we stop saying that women are the natural caregivers, not men. Until we stop saying what a woman’s roles ‘should’ be (and a man’s, for what it’s worth.)

I am a real woman. I am a real mother. I am a real everything, because I live that life.

That must be part of the conversation.

Note: I speak as a woman, but the same goes for men. A man must be able to be a man, without passing on his genetic material. And perhaps fatherhood would improve if it became caring for children, rather than simply creating them. But that is another discussion.

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