Black Man Says Past Life as a Woman Makes Him Appreciate Feminism

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Dr. Kortney Zeigler says his past life as a woman helps him appreciate feminism as a man today.

Dr. Kortney Zeigler

Reported by Ashley Naples

One of the primary challenges of the ongoing gender war is that neither gender is able to empathize with the other’s point-of-view.

It’s hard for a man to empathize with women about the pain and prevalence of seχual harassment — even if they are 100 percent against harassment — because they’ve never had flocks of men gawking and whistling at them as they walk down the street.

It’s challenging for women to empathize with men on the need to maintain a consistent “diet” of seχ because women don’t have to wake up every morning to an unsolicited erëction and constantly fight off thoughts about seχ that occur nearly twice as much for men as it does for women. Even if women have studied men’s seχuality and are sympathetic to their constant temptation to have seχ, it’s impossible for them to actually feel what men feel because, well, they’re not men.

There are, however, some people who are able to fully identify with and understand the “best of both worlds” as it pertains to gender differences because they’ve lived their lives as a man and a woman. Dr. Kortney Zeigler is one of those persons. He was born a woman but has undergone a medical procedure to become a man. Dr. Zeigler’s life as a transman has sensitized his outlook on the plight of women. In a blog post titled “How my past as a black woman informs my black male feminist perspective today,” Dr. Zeigler details his life as a privileged man and how his past experience as a woman shapes his interaction with women today.
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Read excerpts from his blog post below:

For some transmen, their female pasts conjure up memories of pain and humiliation, and rightfully so. These feelings are not absent from my journey, but I’ve come to embrace my past as a beneficial asset to my practice of a progressive black masculinity.

Primarily, I am very careful with my interactions with women in order to not be perceived as a physical threat. I am always thoughtful of my newfound “bulk” due to hormones and the ways in which my masculine body moves and occupies space. While walking on the streets, I maintain my distance from women. I avoid eye contact unless we are engaging in mutual conversation and even then, I do not stare. The memory of harassment as a woman doesn’t allow me to.

In professional situations, I am always aware of my male privilege. I do not hog the intellectual space, and make it a point to deeply value the input of my female collaborators. My goal is not to be the dominant voice of reason but to attempt to exist as an equal colleague. Furthermore, in my work, I find it very important to centralize the experiences of women to supplement the work that they are doing for themselves.

In my brief experience of living as a black male, I’ve learned that it is difficult to challenge misogyny in male-dominated spaces. I have found myself in a number of uncomfortable situations with men who openly insult and humiliate women and I feel silenced. Not because of the fear of being outed as transgendered, but I fear being perceived as a failed version of black masculinity — a fear that I believe imprisons all black men — adding to the reproduction of a viοlent patriarchal society.

Read the blog post to its entirety by clicking here