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How I Learned To Dance (Like A Woman)

| Mar 10, 2008
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Blogger Corinne ScottI promised Cheryl back on February 18th that I’d talk a little about the notion of the “GG succorer” – that is, a natal-born woman who takes a burgeoning trans-woman under her wing and teaches her the ways of womanhood. So Cheryl, this one’s for you…

Primarily, I think the notion of the female mentor is rooted in fantasy. It’s an appealing idea, to be sure. Having been raised as a boy; I was denied all the opportunities for socialization other women had access to from birth. To my siblings, I was a brother, not a sister. To my parents, I was a son, not a daughter. To the other children, I was a tall gangly boy, not a tall gawky girl. For 36 years I received the exact wrong education I needed for cultural assimilation (the one mitigating factor being that I was aware, in some capacity at least, what was happening to me and was therefore able to do some self-correction over the years). At this late stage, my best hope for a successful transition might be for a GG to come along and undertake a drastic re-education program on my behalf.

And the funny thing is, in the beginning, I kind of expected that to happen. Not hoped…expected.

Ladies talking.As I moved on into adulthood, I nurtured relationships with women…if I wasn’t ready to come out yet, I certainly wasn’t going to deprive myself of the friendships I had so desperately craved for so long. So when I did come out, I was surrounded by a cadre of wonderful, accepting, biologically authentic females. I figured at least one of them would jump at the chance to impart their vast reservoir of knowledge upon me.

That, of course, never happened. And I didn’t push it. I mean if you ask for it, that kind of ruins the whole thing, right? Even so, I wanted it. And it didn’t take long for things to get weird. I imagine it was a bit like the Jennifer Jason Leigh character in Single White Female for my friends. Over time, I noticed they weren’t calling or hanging out as much. It’s hard to explain, but I think the very idea of a male transitioning to female is disconcerting for some GGs…even if you don’t put them on a pedestal, even if you never say anything to give away your jealousy, just being around while you struggle to find yourself will inevitably give them reason to reflect upon their own femininity. And if it’s one thing transwomen and natal women have in common, it’s that they’re almost never completely happy with themselves.

The good news is that I didn’t lose any of my friendships. I consider myself fairly savvy to the dynamics of interpersonal relationships, and we were able to right the boat. More to the point though, your average female just isn’t going to be that enthused about being your personal tutor in a subject that she’s had to learn over a course of a whole lifetime…and may not feel as though she’s perfected yet.

Which is not to say that I don’t have any experience at all with the “succorer” type.

Two women dancers with parasols.Early on in my transition, a friend of a friend, who I’ll just call “S”, took a real shine to me. And I admit, it was quite thrilling to find someone who was as enthusiastic about my gender presentation as I was. Probably that should’ve been a warning sign. I mean, that just isn’t natural….she was practically jumping at the chance to undo my masculinity. Did I mention that “S” was formerly an exotic dancer with the long and sordid history usually associated with that profession? Maybe that should have been the warning sign. I still pal around with “S” from time-to-time; she’s cleaned up her act in the past few years and is a lot of fun to be around. But in terms of role models, I can probably do better than someone whose advice for the dance floor was: “Imagine you have a vagina, and then pretend you are being taken from behind by a guy.”

Another trans-friend of mine described her experience with a “succorer” thusly (and I paraphrase): “It was pretty cool at first, but it just isn’t that much fun trying on someone else’s clothes while they lapse in and out of a heroin overdose.” Yeah, this woman was an exotic dancer too.

So yeah, all of my experiences suggest that the facts surrounding the “succorer” phenomenon, like most things, are more complicated and less fun than the fiction. But if you’re still not convinced, I’ll offer up this last tidbit:

Counterintuitive though it may, natal-born women are not the gate-keepers to the female world. Most didn’t ask for that job, and those who undertake it mean us no good. Yes, we can learn from genetically-born women, just as they can learn from us, but for our own sense of self and worth, we need to be comfortable with our place at the table…not as pupils or apprentices, but as equals.


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Category: Transgender Opinion

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