Most cisgender people will never really be able to understand what it’s like to be the opposite gender - as a woman, you might assume a man feels a lot safer walking the streets at night, and a man might presume people are friendlier to women.
But is it true?
Transgender people are in the position of having experienced both, and some have been sharing in a Reddit forum the differences in how they’ve been treated as a man or a woman.
One transgender man in the process of transitioning from a woman said that elderly people and children tend to see him as a man, whereas people aged in between “usually see me as a very butch girl or a 12-year-old boy, since I still have a high voice and female face.”
“Old men talk to me more, and it's never creepy,” he explained. “They see a young boy/man and want to tell their stories, pass on their advice, feel wise, bond with a proxy-grandson.
“When I presented as a girl, they might not talk much or know what to say - I certainly wasn't treated like a granddaughter - but they feel much more comfortable around me as a guy.”
He explained that he’s also asked to do more errands than before: “partly because girls are seen as weaker/more delicate and partly because it's ‘character building’ for a boy, I think.”
One transgender woman revealed an interesting difference she’d spotted - since becoming female, men give her much more eye contact when passing by but less in conversations: “They're more likely to be looking around the room or at their phones or something,” she explained. Eye contact from women has stayed the same though.
What’s more, she revealed that the most annoying difference in treatment for her is that since becoming a woman, men constantly make her justify and prove her interest and knowledge of sports: “When guys find out I enjoy baseball and basketball, they try to test my knowledge of trivia and see if I’m a ‘real fan’.”
It’s a concept known as gatekeeping - the ‘gatekeepers’ of a community refuse to let others in.
Another woman who says she passes as cisgender explained how she gets treated “pretty differently” since transitioning - “Men go out of their way to talk to me, try and help me, hold doors open for me.”
But she also found she has to prove herself more as a female: “Unfortunately because I'm pretty, I feel I have so much more to prove to be taken seriously. I work with guitars and guys will usually opt to ask my male coworkers questions instead of me unless I start playing Rage Against the Machine riffs or something. Then all of a sudden they want to talk to me.
“Or you get the creepy guys who will go out of their way to talk to me over everyone else and will ask me a bunch of questions that don't really have to do with my job.
“Women are way friendlier around me, and will come up to me and compliment my outfit choices and makeup and whatnot. I could tell that women always thought I was attractive before but they were definitely more reserved with talking to me.”
One woman in the forum explained how she’s been using a unicycle to get around her town for years, but the comments she gets from men have changed dramatically since transitioning:
“When I was perceived as male, I'd get basically the same sort of comments from men and women. Things like ‘wow, impressive,’ ‘that must take talent’ or ‘how do you stay on that thing?’
“Now that I present as female, the majority of comments I get from men are along the lines of ‘looking good on that thing,’ ‘ooh, yeah, ride it girl’ or ‘show me your ass!’ While some guys still say normal things, the majority of comments I get from men are either about my appearance, sexual, or both.”
A transgender man shared his experiences reinforcing the point: he believes he’s now given much more respect than when he was female:
“People actually listen to what I say and pay attention,” he said. “I feel like I'm getting taken more seriously.”
However not everything improved by becoming male: “People are less helpful. When I'm on the bus and want to get out, people would yell ‘this lady wants to get off the bus’, now I just have to kinda yell for myself,” the man explained.
He also found that women are less likely to sit next to him on public transport - possibly because women want to avoid misogynistic comments from men (case in point - the stories of the unicycling woman).
The forum has received many comments, experiences and responses, but a lot of it makes for quite depressing reading for women:
“One of the first really striking changes I (male-to-female) noticed was that it's completely and totally accurate that women get talked over a lot. I knew this already on a logical level, but experiencing it after I started socially and medically transitioning was still a jarring experience.
“There have been so many times where co-workers, supervisors and just the general public have decided to talk over me regardless of the topic, and this includes people who knew me before my transition.”
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