Being Female

In the center of my body is a tube.

Some think this tube has been there since I had four cells; others think it didn’t present itself until there were eight cells for me to link together.


There is a tube, a hollow, at the center of my body, and I have pretty much always had it, and it is what most essentially defines me as female.

All of us who are female have this tube. This hollow, this, if you will, “uterus.” Or “womb,” if we are completely formed. We may not consciously be aware of it. We may hate it, or endure it, or – if we are particularly well-adjusted – love it.

We all accommodate it. We all process it, however unconsciously or consciously, as the core of our existence.

We might be born without an ovary, or without two ovaries. Our uterii might be malformed or missing. But that hollow is still there.

We normally develop two (or three, or more) nipples, as all mammals do; we might remove the nipples for one reason or another, and bewail our lost femaleness, but that is not where our femaleness lies.

We normally develop extra breast tissue, and we discuss and compete with each other on the most perfect size and shape of the resulting breasts, or we have them removed for one reason or another, or we decry or pity male people who develop them, and we base our shared femaleness on these breasts. But we know, we intuit, that this is also not where our femaleness lies.

We are female because of our hollow.

The hollow dictates where our other internal organs lie, the organs that we all share as mammals, as humans. The hollow dictates the types of things we experience: what our internal bacterial makeup is comprised of, what our organochemical balance is; if our balance is incorrect, it is not because we are male, it is because our hollow and its associated organs are functioning outside their base parameters.

We negotiate this hollow as babies, as girls, as teenaged thunderstorms, as weary women.

This is our immutably shared experience.

Male people do not have the hollow at their core. Somewhere, a little further along in their development, they encase the hollow, and narrow it into a tube, and extrude it to the outside of their bodies.

Forever, the reality of their maleness is conditioned on this extruded hollow.

It might be so small as to be visibly indistinguishable from a female clitoris, or it might rival that of a stallion, or it might be damaged or viciously removed – or it might be discarded with prejudice.

Regardless of how large or small it is, even regardless of whether and when it is fully extruded, regardless of the presence or absence of the ovary-analogs that are their testicles, every baby, every boy, every teenaged thunderstorm, every weary man negotiates this extruded tube.

This is their immutably shared experience.

There are some babies who visibly retain the hollow at their core and also manage to extrude a part of it. The word we have applied in English is Herm-Aphrodite, and, because it does not happen often, because it is uncommon, we regard it as ab-normal, and pity or fetishize the situation, and speak of cures or therapies. Because we fetishize the normal, oblivious of the reality that life is mutation.

Their experience is not that of females. It is not that of males. Their experience shares in each, and expands beyond both. What that experience is comprised of is theirs to identify and proclaim, and is not known to me. And if it were known to me, it would still not be mine to identify and proclaim.

There are some babies who, as they become aware of their bodies, negotiate the hollow or tube they developed around with horror or utter rejection. They are convinced that their cells ought to have developed in the other direction. They take the steps they can to alter the situation.

I accept (without the belief that they need that acceptance) that their horror and rejection is very real. I applaud (without the hubris that they need or in fact want my applause) the steps they take to process this horror and rejection to a state they can endure and in which they can thrive.

In English we have applied such terms as transgender, trans-man or trans-woman; there are many other words of which I am unaware, or which I would refuse to use as being offensive to the dignity of the persons to whom they might be applied.

I use, and will always use, the gender terms required by the individual. This is mere politeness, this is only courtesy, this is basic civilized behavior. I negotiate, and will always negotiate, whatever dissociation I may experience concerning the displayed gender norms, privately. It is the responsibility of each individual to come to terms with alterations in their understanding of the world in their own way and time, and I am diligent in my adherence to this responsibility.

What I will not do, and what I refuse to accept any guilt for, is to accept the concept that the hollow at the core of my being is without worth; to embrace the concept that the internal tube that makes me female should be dismissed.

I refuse the notion that my efforts to negotiate the hollow at my core is an act of violence toward those who lack it. I have my hollow, and I have always had it. I and my sisters have our experiences of life in relationship to our hollows and how they behave. Though it distressed me with greater or lesser violence from my ninth year to my fiftieth year, it is mine, it is real, I do not make any compromise with my femaleness.

Adult men individually, and the misshapen western male culture collectively, have distressed me with greater or lesser violence specifically due to the hollow at the core of my being from my ninth year to this my current year of existence.

I reluctantly accepted my uterus. I fought to live in spite of my uterus. I relaxed into the war my uterus was waging on me, and I have embraced my uterus, the more so now that its passion has abated.

Do not ever think that a born male person has the right to tell me. Again. That my uterus is without worth. And that my introspection harms him.

The “micro” portion of “micro-aggression” will not apply.

Tuppence in the change bowl.

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