Female and male. Trans Women are not Men. Image Dainis Graveris on Unsplash

Why Trans Women Are Not Men

Before trans women transition, it’s fair to say that they exhibited male characteristics. They likely didn’t identify as male then, but they had the generic male working parts. So, the question is, at what point do they stop being men on a biological level?

Despite the fact that it’s not really anybody’s business to know, trans rights are going to continually be judged if we don’t answer this question. And yes, despite unpopular opinion, trans women eventually stop being men on a biological level.

To answer this question, we must return to that notoriously awkward moment in our high school lives known as sex education. There we learned about sex characteristics that determine someone’s biological sex. We have primary characteristics like the penis and vagina, and secondary characteristics like breasts and exceptional body hair. Furthermore, we have a delicate balance of hormones that regulate the way the body develops; they are testosterone and estrogen. Interestingly, everyone has a mix of both, with one overriding the other as the dominant hormone.

Now, in simple terms, when a man transitions into a woman, they must first undertake Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). This is where they develop breasts and reduce facial hair, practically altering their secondary male characteristics into female ones. So, technically, once they’ve begun HRT, they are becoming women. Of course, they may still have their physical male parts, but it’s now impossible to call them men since they’ve begun growing breasts and hips. Their entire secondary sex characteristics do not resemble that of a complete male, so how can we call them male?

Indeed, some could argue that trans women become women when they’ve surgically altered their male parts. But if they’re taking HRT, and are technically women on a secondary sex characteristic level, then altering genitals to fit the female anatomy is purely for aesthetics. In saying that, having a vagina alone can’t constitute being a complete female. Just like them having a penis doesn’t make them a man. And that’s because they require certain hormones (testosterone/estrogen) to function as male or female parts.

If one has a penis and is taking HRT, their sperm count depletes. Conversely, if a woman takes HRT to transition into a man, their menstrual cycle drops. In many cases, both trans women and men become completely infertile, but all of them face an effect on their fertility. This means their genitals are purely sex organs – yes, trans women with penises can still use them if they wish. Add on a pair of boobs and widened hips, and you cannot really call them men anymore. In fact, they more resemble women on a biological level.

Of course, there are those who argue that because trans women don’t have periods or can’t birth children, it’s impossible to call them women either. Interestingly, anecdotal evidence suggests that trans women who undergo HRT share a lot of the symptoms of menstruation – from cramps to mood swings. Indeed, they don’t experience the stripping of the uterine lining – since they don’t have a uterus – and that’s the only difference between trans women and biological women. But, considering trans women sport all the other similar sex characteristics (breasts, big hips, limited facial hair), is true periods the only thing that makes women women? Sounds a bit selective if you ask me.

In essence, trans women who undergo HRT are essentially women in many biological ways. And even if they still sport male appendages, their hormones affect the way they work while also affording new female characteristics like boobs and hips. So, technically, they cannot be men. And because their body is now regulated with estrogen, which has allowed them to grow breasts and hips, then technically they are women.

And if you still feel like trans women can’t be women, then might I ask: what’s it to you? If you’re not sleeping with them or treating them as a doctor, do you really need to know their sex? Can’t you just accept the gender they wish to espouse?

Feature image: Dainis Graveris on Unsplash

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