Media portrayal of women is for the most part brutal. As much as I don't think celebrity gossip should get any more 'clout' I think the Kehlani/PartyNextDoor incident a few weeks ago is a prime example. As I scrolled through my Twitter feed and clicked on a link to an article about Kehlani in the hospital I noticed the comments below, "hoe", "she would have been better off dead." In my personal opinion if the roles had been reversed and this had been a man, none of these remarks would have ever been said.
Because of this I admire strong women in the media (and of course in real life) who celebrate being female and in less eloquent words don't take $#!* from anyone. Being held to captive standards and even laws in society isn't easy, its up to us to step up and be strong and proud of who we are. It might seem shocking to the unaware but we can be multiple things at once. Leaders, sexy, strong, creative, and everything else in between.
This idealism doesn't just apply to cis women either. Transgender women should be treated equally and deserve a platform to express their own opinions and beliefs about what it really means to be a woman. I took this opportunity to ask my good friend Kyla a few questions and get her outlook, enjoy.
As someone who wasn’t able to ‘live’ as a women until recently, what do you think being a women really entails? Is feminine energy a real thing?
To me being a woman is not about how you act, what you're wearing, or the body parts that you have. Being a woman, is the spirituality and emotion from who you are. Feminine energy is definitely real, but it comes in so many different varieties and forms. Just because a woman likes to wear mens jeans and do things that aren't necessarily "normal" to societies standards, doesn't make her any less of a woman than the girl who is wearing a dress and bright red lipstick. To me, a woman is not defined but the femininity of how they act, but by the perspective and outlook of who she is.
Do you think clothes have an impact on how you feel?
Yes, definitely. I believe that it shouldn't matter what someone wears to make you feel more of a woman, but because of what the general public thinks of what men and women believe they should be wearing, I do feel more "feminine" when I am wearing clothing that tends to reveal a little more skin than usual.
How has it been like sort of finding your own personal style (since obviously men’s & women’s fashion is still different)?
Before I began my transition, I always tried to find clothes that were for men, but still seemed like a woman could possibly wear it. Majority of my clothes seemed to be gender neutral. I actually still wear some of those items to this day. But every time I would go shopping I never felt truly comfortable with the clothes I was buying. It felt as if I was just settling and not actually pursuing the look and feel of clothes that I truly wanted to live in.
To me, I've always felt there was a wider option of clothing for women, and it's been so much easier to express myself with the different amount of styles and diversity of fashion in women's clothing.
Would you say you have a specific look you gravitate towards style wise or is it more dependent on the mood you’re in?
My look changes with my mood, and my mood changes all the time. Whether the sun is out and I want to show off some midriff, or wearing oversized sweaters with no pants, I'm usually giving off a similar vibe from my clothes. Actually quite a lot of my clothes reveal a lot of skin. Which I think comes from the influence of what is accepted in our society as normal to wear for girls.
If you had to give advice to anyone struggling with finding their identity what would it be?
Be patient. Finding yourself is a long process and no one is able to just know right away. You need to live and experience as much as you can, and along the way you will learn everything about what makes you, you. Everything is up to you, and if you want to do something you have to do it for yourself and no one else. Ask questions, educate yourself on how you are feeling, and never be afraid to get help.
For me, finding myself was influenced heavily by my surroundings and what was happening in the world. I always knew something wasn't right with myself, but I didn't even really know the true meaning of being trans. Then social media began bringing light to transgender women such as Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, and Gigi Gorgeous who all began to educate me on the subject of gender.
Eventually overtime, my mind became clearer about who I was and what I needed to do to allow myself to fully love and create a life for myself that I can be proud of.
Would you say you notice issues toward women and gender equality more now than before (or the same)?
Most definitely. I never knew what it was like to be publicly catcalled while walking down the street until it actually happened. I'm not going to lie, the first couple of times it felt somewhat good because I have never been noticed like that in my life before, but then it began happening more and more the further along my transition progressed and I began to feel like my existence as a human was being noticed because of my body.
One thing that was interesting with finding clothing was that the sizes are significantly smaller than the mens sizes. Now I know men are usually larger than women, but they don't differ to the extreme that I can fit in an extra small mens shirt but then I only fit in a large women's shirt. I think society has a big impact on why a lot of women have body image issues, because we are trained to think we need to fit into the smallest clothing possible.
The biggest issue that really hit me, was the matter of how much our bodies have a big impact on who we are and how we fit into this society.
Finally, do you think society is ever going to get rid of the stigma associated with being trans?\
Eventually. It's going to be a long and tough road, but we've definitely made a bigger impact on the world these past couple of years.
My goal as a transgender woman is to be someone that the trans community can look up to. A lot of trans women are forced to do sex work, because of families kicked them out, companies aren't hiring them because they are trans, and countless reasons. In fact if you look at a history of transgender women in television and films, they are usually perceived as prostitutes, which has created a stereotype that people assume trans women to be. This stereotype definitely has affected me, as I have been approached by men a number of times asking for "service".
The world has so much to learn about the trans community, but we have successfully put our foot in the door to creating a more equal and accepting society.