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What Does It Mean to be a Woman?

My wife is the love of my life. We’ll have been married for 35 years this September. She became her true self 12 years ago and has been on an amazing journey ever since. She’s discovered who she is in her being and has taught me a lot about stereotypes and preconceived ideas about what it means to be a woman. She realized she was a woman because that’s who she is not what society thinks she should be. I’ve discovered that I have my own ideas of what I think a woman is and they don’t always match.

When she began her transition, she did it without the baggage most women bring to adulthood. In some ways it was interesting watching her, “grow up”. She began dressing up at first. She loved evening gowns and heavy makeup. Then she became a teenager, wearing whatever she wanted, when she wanted. And then she became a woman, refining her own personal style. The interesting part was that her style and what I thought a “real woman” should wear or act were not the same.

She grew up in today’s society and that’s not the same as growing up in the 70’s and 80’s when women’s roles were still firmly defined. She grew up at a time where “proper” women can do whatever they hell they like. I grew up at a time where women didn’t burp or fart without being utterly mortified. I absorbed those stereotypes where women – especially of a certain age – were to be demur and polite. I’ll get upset with her about her unladylike behavior. The funny part is she just looks at me confused and says, “have you met your daughter?”

So, I’ve realized womanhood is no longer defined as a single ideal and that’s a good thing, a wonderful thing. We now live at a time when people can follow traditional or non-traditional roles and it’s not anyone’s place to define that for someone else.

I just got home from a Pride event, and it was wonderful. People dressed how they liked. They held hands how they liked. Our church had a booth there and people would ask questions: “Are you really accepting of us?” Yes, we accept you. Whether you look like us, act like us, or think like us, we will accept you. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to examine my own prejudices and stereotypes. I hope we all have the chance to open our minds to the reality that people can be themselves and it’s not up to us to say what that is.

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