Do It Like a Girl!

| May 8, 2023
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I did not take to organized sports as a child, and although I took an interest as a spectator with my dad while in grade school, I never had an interest in playing a sport at that age. By the time I reached high school, that had changed. I started playing organized football in high school, first at the JV and finally the varsity level. Some of my former teammates and opponents subsequently played at the college level, and ultimately in the NFL. (Yours truly was a bench rider for most of her playing days.)

But if I could do it over again, I would have played Little League baseball. Even today, I wonder if it would have helped me get some athletic confidence at a much younger age, and certainly under less dramatic circumstances. One reason I started playing football in high school was to be perceived as masculine; after all, I wanted the boys to respect me, and especially for the girls to like me. Getting involved in the most masculine of athletic activities was certainly one way to accomplish that.

In the classic baseball movie The Sandlot, when the amateurs and Little Leaguers are trading boyish insults back and forth, Ham Porter eventually throws down the ultimate gauntlet to the Little League team captain: “You play ball like a GIRL!” With that, the leader of the Little League team visibly lost his composure, and foolishly allowed himself and his team be maneuvered into an unequal contest that they subsequently lost.

In our younger days, “doing [something] like a girl” could have been taken several ways, but never positively. Especially for TGForum readers — most of whom were already showing some tendencies to look up to their female influences — it probably served as a negative motivator. I know it did for me at that age. The idea that someone might be able to sleuth out a part of my life that I wanted hidden was not a pleasant prospect.

Having transitioned three years ago, doing things like a girl (excuse me — “lady” at my age) is now an everyday reality. I can relax and act naturally, no longer worried about upholding imaginary masculine standards. When I am complimented on my appearance, referred to in female pronouns and honorifics, or am freely included in women’s activities and groups, I am always flattered.

While out and about, I have often found myself involved in many casual conversations, by people who presumably found me approachable, or worth talking to. I like to think my first impression on others is a good one. Along the way, I have learned to comfortably incorporate several such instructions into my daily routine. This includes the following:

Dress like a girl. I doubt we need any encouragement on that. But, as Buddy Love would say in The Nutty Professor: “Do it right.” I have assembled a functioning wardrobe corresponding to my age, style, state in life, and where I go out in public. My clothes, hair, nails, scent, makeup, shoes, etc. are part of this process. It wordlessly shows the women I interact with that I am willing to take on the same effort, expense and burden as they do. If nothing else, they do respect me for that, and it has opened doors.

Walk like a girl. Have you ever noticed how a woman walks differently from a man in non-physical ways as well? Wherever a man walks in public, he will typically paint imaginary traffic lines and street signs along the way, and act accordingly: Pass left, keep right, stop, yield, etc. By contrast, a woman takes the center path and expects foot traffic to defer to her. She is accustomed to receiving the pedestrian right of way, and rightly so; the faster pace, longer strides and much more comfortable footwear of the typical male would otherwise cause her to be pushed aside. In addition to my physical moves, I try to be aware of these things, without abusing such prerogatives or acting entitled.

Speak like a girl. Not so much in my mannerisms and inflection (although this does help), but in my vocabulary and word selection. I make serious effort to avoid foul language and questionable expressions. I listen to others, pay them compliments, and involve them in the conversation. Most importantly, I don’t interrupt them when they are speaking. In my masculine days, I was usually more interested in making my point in a conversation. Now I am quite content to let others carry the verbal initiative. Not only is it respectful, it’s also easier.

Work like a girl. Since I am out at my workplace (full-time non-remote), I am a very visible and recognized employee. I am obligated to set a standard for being collaborative, helpful, and deferential. (As some of my colleagues might be willing to attest, the latter does not mean being a pushover.) I don’t whine or complain. The professional journey is just as important than the end destination, if not more so. Since my manager, department director and many of my direct colleagues are female, this is constantly reinforced.

Dine like a girl. I have much experience with this by now, in personal and professional settings. When dining out, I sit up straight and am mindful of etiquette. I select appropriate fare and portion sizes, and use utensils even in casual dining. After all, I’m not an adolescent anymore, and my metabolism isn’t what it once was. And I don’t like to risk getting food stains on the nicer clothes that I now wear to the average restaurant.

Photograph like a girl. When opportunities arise, I don’t shy away from the camera when I am out with friends. I enjoy having mementos taken to share with others. The few social networks on which I maintain a presence include photos (note the plural) that clearly show me out somewhere public, looking my best, and in a setting that makes it clear that someone else took the photo for me. And this leads directly to…

Smile like a girl. Maybe it’s just me, but on those occasions when I have encountered fellow TG ladies in public or online, smiling is often at a premium. On social networks, I notice a disproportionate number of selfies. It is a joy and a privilege to be out freely as I am, and my expressions reflect this. This is such an important aspect of my life, which everyone I encounter will notice. I am perceived as a positive, well-adjusted person wherever I am. My presence is sought after, and doors are opened for me — literally and figuratively.

I read somewhere once that during the Motown glory days in the 1960s, the record label put all its acts through finishing schools. This really shows when you watch old footage from the variety shows of the era. The first impression that the Supremes must have made on the average viewer or concert attendee was something like, “Wow — those ladies are beautiful, and so polished.” That impression would have lingered well beyond the moment, which was very important given some of the prevailing social attitudes of that day.

While we may not be artists, we are all performing on the stage of life. Our behavior should reflect poise, dignity and maturity. If someone should say to me, in effect, that I do something like a girl/woman/lady/etc. then I will always take that as a major compliment. And indeed, when I do hear that, I know it is meant as such. Show those around you how girls really can do it better!

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Category: Transgender How To, Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

I am a project management professional in the greater Philadelphia area. I enjoy travel, domestic arts, reading and gardening. I am an active member of several ladies groups. I am a fan of 1970s & 80s hard rock, do not own a cell phone, and still have my high school football varsity letterman's jacket in my closet.

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