09 May 2010

The Way To A Woman's Heart

As a trans woman, I know all of the secrets of human life.  Well, I'm supposed to.  Or, at any rate, some people think I do and I don't do anything to disabuse them of that notion.  That's why my female friends and students (and even some female strangers!) talk to me about their guy problems, and males in my life talk to me about their girl problems.  Then again, if I really knew all the secrets, girls would talk to me about their girl problems and guys about their guy problems, right?

Well, whatever else may be true, I can say that I know a thing or to about how one gender can, should or does relate to the other.  So, if any of you guys read this, I'm going to tell you the secret way to a woman's heart.

It isn't what you think it is.  Sure, we love flowers and chocolates.  And we like candlelit dinners and such.   And we--most of us, anyway (I include myself.) like lingerie--but not when you guys give it to us.  You see, when one of  you guys gives one of  us lingerie, it's no more a gift for any of us than a kitchen appliance is  for your mother.  Then again, if a guy gave me lingerie, it might not be a gift for me but, given my physical condition, but it wouldn't be completely for his own pleasure, either.

All right...So what's the secret way to a woman's heart?  It's this: Say something nice to us.  Say it without any strings attached. In other words, don't tell us how nice we look because you need a favor of whatever kind.  And don't tell us that you love us when you're envisioning us in the missionary position.

Just say something nice to us, for its own sake.  Better yet, say it to some woman who's a stranger you'll probably never see again.  If she seems to be a bit older than you, wish her a Happy Mother's Day.

Two men who live in my neighborhood did that for me today.  Not surprisingly, at least to me, they're both Latino.  It seems that any time a man offers me his seat on the bus or subway, he's Latino.  So was the first man to wish me a happy Mother's Day.  That was five years ago:  the second Mother's Day in my life as Justine.  Then, it was exciting because it was (or seemed to be) an affirmation I so desperately wanted.  Now, when a man makes such a wish for me, I appreciate, if nothing else, his good manners and imagine that, perhaps, he has (or had) a warm and respectful relationship with his own mother.  At least, I would hope that, for anybody.

But I also feel like I've been given something I didn't earn.  After all, barring some major advance in medical technology, I will never be a mother.  People have told me I could adopt; a few have even suggested that I should because they think I could be a good mother.  I like kids, but I think those people are giving me more credit than I deserve.  Plus, if I were to adopt a very young child, I will be very old by the time that kid is ready to go to college or do whatever he or she wants to do after I raise him or her. 

Then again, other people have told me--and I still believe, at least somewhat--that it's probably better that I've never had kids.  I might not have been able to do some of the things I've done, including my transition and surgery, had I raised kids.  That may well be true, but I've met other trans people--including Joy, who had her surgery just after I had mine--who had kids and said they're glad they did.  From what she and her spouse say, the kids--who, if I remember correctly, are around 12 and 14--have taken well to her transition. And her spouse--Well, what can you say about spouse who, after her husband became her wife, gleefully intoned, "Well, I'm a card-carrying lesbian now!"

Now there's someone who deserves to have a Happy Mother's Day.  So does Marilynne.  And Millie.  And, of course,  my mom.  And a rather frail but alert black woman whom I saw in the candystore/newsstand on the corner should have a wonderful holiday, too.  She was with a girl who appeared to be about twelve or thirteen and her granddaughter.  For no particular reason, I wished her a happy mother's day.   That made her--and, interestingly, the girl--happy.

As I was leaving, a young white man walked into that store.  He wished her a Happy Mother's Day. I can still see her smiling now.  

Guys, take note.  Girls, too.