Kate

“I wanted to be soft and feminine.”

Name?

Kate.

Where did you grow up?

I’m from a small town in Ohio called Salem.

Were you brought up religiously/secularly/other?

My parents believed in God but we didn’t really do much about it. We went to church on Christmas Eve and Easter, but that was about it. I had a brief Christian moment in my life but I am now an atheist.

Was there turbulence throughout your childhood/adolescence?

My family was great but I rarely had friends until middle school. I was bullied pretty heavily for a couple of years.

Were you ever embarrassed about your development/puberty? If so, why?

Yes, absolutely. I went through male puberty and I wanted no part of it. I didn’t want dark coarse hair all over my face and body. I didn’t want a deep voice. I wanted to be soft and feminine.

Can you remember any key moments in your formative years that shaped you? 

When I was around 5 or 6 years old my female cousin and I were staying at our grandparents’ house and we traded clothes. We wanted to go outside and play. My cousin was allowed out but I was told I would have to stay inside, because no one should see me like that. This taught me that my desire to be a girl was shameful, and resulted in me hiding my identity for many years.

Your sexuality?

Queer.

When did you become aware of your gender?

All of my earliest memories center around wanting to be a girl but not believing it was possible without some kind of magic. Every time I would pray or make any sort of wish (birthday candles, coins in a well, shooting star, etc) it was always to wake up as a girl.

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“All of my earliest memories center around wanting to be a girl but not believing it was possible without some kind of magic.” – Kate
Photo by Frances Carter

When did you become aware of your own sexuality, were there any key moments?

Around age 12 I remember being attracted to girls and not wanting anything to do with boys. When I was in college I still didn’t feel attracted to guys, but I tried experimenting with them because I hoped it would reveal that I was really a gay man and maybe that would somehow ‘cure me’ of my need to transition. That concept seemed so much simpler than being a trans woman, but it just wasn’t me. After starting hormones I became much more open to experiences with people other than cis women.

What, if any, are the obstacles you’ve overcome on your path to womanhood?

Well the first obstacle was being born with what is typically a male body! That led to therapy, hormones, electrolysis and everything else that comes with transition.

What is the image you would like to project?

I’d like to be seen as a confident, intelligent, hard-working, successful woman who has everything together in her life.

What do you think the image other people perceive is?

Is this somehow different from ‘What is the image you think you project every day’?

The ways I have been treated before and after transition are very different. The tasks I am asked to complete are different. The ways men and women talk to me are different.

What is your political stance on women’s reproductive rights? 

All women should have complete control over pills they take, procedures they have and anything involving their bodies. There should be no legislation infringing on these rights in any way.

Are you pro-life or pro-choice? 

I am adamantly pro-choice. I think forcing a woman to carry and birth a child she doesn’t want, can’t afford, is incapable of taking care of – or whatever the situation is – is completely archaic and deplorable. I believe pro-life is a misnomer. If you want abortion to be illegal, it won’t make abortions go away. It will only push them underground, which will result in more harm and fatalities to the mothers. The pro-life stance is one that results in more death, not more life.

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“When I was in college I still didn’t feel attracted to guys, but I tried experimenting with them because I hoped it would reveal that I was really a gay man and maybe that would somehow ‘cure me’ of my need to transition. ” – Kate
Photo by Frances Carter

What are your feelings about contraceptives? Their availability, cost, stigma, usage?

I think contraceptives should be much more easily available and free for those who can’t afford them. The lack of availability of contraceptives is an element of what makes poor people stay poor.

What are your feelings about casual sex?

It’s difficult for me to take much pleasure in casual sex with someone I don’t know well. If casual sex is a good thing in your life, great. I really don’t care what other people do.

Are you in a relationship(s)?

No, unfortunately I haven’t really been in a relationship in two years now. Hoping for that to change soon.

What are your feelings about marriage?

I think it has its origins in a way of legally claiming women as property. Today it is often about love, but also has other benefits from the government and society. I don’t care whether or not others choose to be married, but I think it is a right that should be available to anyone in a consensual relationship. Personally, I think I would like to be married one day. I find the security of it appealing.

What are your negative relationships with other women?

Some women reject my identity as a woman.

What are your feelings about monogamy? 

For most of my life I’ve moved from one monogamous relationship to another. In recent years I’ve dated a number of people but I find that unsatisfying. I like monogamy. I don’t care one way or the other about whether others are monogamous. I feel that other people’s sexualities and relationships are none of my business.

On polyamory?

I have friends who are polyamorous and it seems to work for them. It’s not for me; I’d get too jealous.

Do you feel your choice to participate or not participate in consensual sex is at all affected by societal influence?

When I lived in Ohio I was definitely very conscious about how my relationships would be perceived by society. Now that I’m in NYC most people don’t seem to notice or care much about what other people do with their bodies.

How do you feel about feminine hygiene products’ portrayal in the media?

Well, because I am trans I have no experience with feminine hygiene products, so I don’t feel entirely qualified to answer this question. My perception is that most of the commercials seem a bit silly.

Do you feel your sexual education was sufficient?

Not at all. The only type of sex I remember having any discussion about was heterosexual intercourse.

If not, what would you have done to make it so?

I would like to see some time given to LGBTQ topics in sex ed.

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“Some women reject my identity as a woman.” – Kate
Photo by Frances Carter

Where do you feel unsafe as a woman?

Walking alone late at night in the city can be frightening. I often experience street harassment

Would you consider yourself a feminist?

Yes, absolutely.

What is your relationship to sex?

I enjoy sex if my partner understands the ways I experience sexual pleasure, which is different.

Do you feel comfortable communicating your sexual needs to a partner?

Generally yes. If I don’t communicate, a partner is likely to have no idea how to pleasure me.

Have you found a balance of fulfillment with your partners?

In the past I have. At present I have no partners, so I could definitely use some more fulfillment.

Do you feel that YOUR desires are marginalized in the bedroom or are less important, if so why do you think that is?

No, I don’t. Because of the nature of my body any sexual experience I have is going to be a little queer. Fortunately my experiences with other queer people have been very reciprocal.

Are you fearful of being openly sexual for fear of judgement?

Depends on whom I’m being openly sexual with but, in general, no.

Have you ever been in a position where your sexuality was used against you?

I don’t think so.

When you imagine sex, what is the visual/feeling you associate with it?

I guess I mostly think of skin-on-skin contact and a lot of wetness?

Is sex embarrassing for you to discuss?

Depends on whom I’m talking to. In certain company, for sure.

Is there anyone in your world you undermine your principles for?

Not right now, but there have definitely been people in the past whom I’ve allowed to control me.

What do you seek through sex? 

Pleasure, connection, bonding.

How do you feel about the media’s portrayal of women?

Generally negative. With few exceptions, in most movies and tv shows women are still the background characters, there simply to look pretty and cheer on the male protagonists.

Are you satisfied with the women you see depicted in film, television & advertising?

No. We need more women writers and characters.

How do you think the world at large views women?

I think this question is way too broad, as different cultures have highly different views on women, and of course women and men have different views on women. Overall, though, I’d say women are generally underappreciated and not respected as they should be.

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“Starting hormones as a teen would have allowed me to live more of my life in an honest way.”- Kate
Photo by Frances Carter

Who are/what are your biggest motivators?

My biggest motivator right now is money. I don’t have it and I need it to accomplish a lot of other goals, like getting out of debt and getting gender-confirming surgeries.

Do you find entering the work force as a woman has any bearing on how people will treat you?

Absolutely. The ways I have been treated before and after transition are very different. The tasks I am asked to complete are different. The ways men and women talk to me are different.

Have you ever experienced sexism or sexual harassment within a workplace?

Before transition, when most of the world saw me as a man, men I worked with felt comfortable saying very sexist things about women to me. I found many things that were said to me very offensive, but I was mostly too scared to say anything back due to fears of being outed, and even potentially losing my job.

How have you dealt with conflict?

I’m really much more timid than I should be. I usually try to avoid conflict, which sometimes means giving in to what the other party wants even if it’s not necessarily what I want. This is definitely something I need to work on in my life.

If so, how did those in your life respond when you told them about it?

I’ve been fortunate to have friends and family in my life who fully support me, and I feel like they really have my back and will generally offer good advice for dealing with these situations.

What are you feelings about motherhood?

I think the choice of whether or not to be a mother is very personal, and that motherhood is not for everyone. I would like to be a mother, but I am obviously not physically capable of that. I would adopt but I don’t have the money to support a child. Maybe one day.

What are you biggest fears?

Being eternally alone.

Your biggest regrets?

My biggest regret is not telling my family about feeling like a girl and wanting to be a girl while I was a child. Of course I don’t know how exactly my life would have ended up in that case, but starting hormones as a teen would have allowed me to live more of my life in an honest way.

Your greatest accomplishments? 

My greatest accomplishment is living through my male to female transition. It required tons of money, time, physical and psychological pain, every emotion you can imagine, as well as the loss of people in my life.