Just read up on the Bell Hooks-Laverne Cox talk, thought it was really uncool (and unfemininist) of Hooks to chide Cox for her presentation.
I mean yeah, I get that for (feminist) cis women, femininity can start to feel constricting after a while, but trans women have a very different relationship with it. Patriarchy wants AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) people to be feminine, it does not want AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth) people to be feminine.
For a person that was assigned male at birth, it absolutely can be revolutionary to embrace femininity. It is anathema to patriarchy for AMAB people to embrace femininity, why else do you think trans women get any and all femininity beaten out of them for the first part of their lives?
Besides, cis women had all their lives to try it out and grow tired of it. How many cis women haven’t smeared their mum’s lipstick all over their face as a little girl? At least have a heart and give us some time to experiment with femininity, you were given that time while you were growing up and I don’t see you high-n-mighty feminists going after teenage cis girls for it.
I would like to expand on this, and say that the patriarchy derides and punishes femininity in general. That’s why men who like female-coded activities are mocked. that’s why “girly-girls” are derided as shallow or high-maintenance.
But with trans women, expressing femininity is particularly revolutionary because it isn’t just about social conditioning–it’s a complete rejection of masculinity as the “valuable option.”
Many women–trans and cis–find value in femininity, but when cis women embrace it, everyone assumes it’s because it is expected and because that’s how they were trained. It isn’t considered unusual, because society insists that’s the punishment you get for being a woman, and if you’re very good you’ll reject that and try to act more like your “betters.”
But trans women are offered masculinity on a platter–it’s assumed to be our birthright–and we reject it. More accurately, like most people we reject parts of it. We’re proof that masculinity isn’t inherently valuable or precious–it’s just another thing.
And of course, patriarchal ideals double down on us for that. Our punishment for embracing the feminine and not being “rightly” ashamed of it is to be chained by it, and punished for any infraction. Male-coded interests are “proof” that we’re faking it.
Not appearing feminine enough is grounds for firing or banning us from homes (or from the lives of our own relatives). Expressing anger or standing up for ourselves is interpreted–even by self-proclaimed feminists–as our being aggressive and “really” men.
And revealing anything about our genitals is literally grounds for execution.
People hunt down the tiniest nuances–our shoulders, our voices, or hobbies, or age–and use the smallest infraction against gender norms to completely invalidate our statement that masculinity isn’t precious at all. This despite the fact that trans women, like everyone, aren’t inherantly “pure women” or “pure men” any more than any cis person–we’re mixes of social messages and biological impulses, some accepted some rejected, that go into forming a complex human being.
Trans women highlight that there’s no superior gender or gendered form of expression, and that pisses people off.