Feminism's Problem With Transgender Women Stereotypes

The two views incompatible

New York Magazine published a story Sunday about a woman whose business teaches transgender women how to be feminine. But in the process, the magazine revealed the incompatibility between a man's view of femininity and how modern feminists fervently buck those stereotypes. 

Monica Prata, who runs Nouveau She based in New York, is a "feminine image consultant." She charges $130 an hour to teach men how to appear as women. If $130 seems stiff, Prata assures she is not trying to "upsell them just because they're trans." Her services include: "hair, makeup, and wardrobe makeovers, not to mention guidance on facial feminization and gender reassignment surgery, vocal training, home redecoration, and 'comportment.'"

The NYM story highlights one of Prata's customers who is preparing to meet a family member as a woman for the first time. (Previously married, this man is referred to throughout with the opposite gender pronouns, as in, "she suffers from erectile dysfunction.") He is described as typical of Prata's clients: "middle-aged, white, married with children, and upper-middle class."

Prata teaches her clients things like, "women have softer handshakes, women use more words to express the same ideas, they use more colorful language, they open their eyes more when they speak, they smile more, they lean forward more, they touch their faces, they touch each other, they keep their elbows closer to their bodies and take up less space in a room and apologize more and preface their opinions with qualifiers and are more likely to let themselves be interrupted."

It is explained that her clients don't want to be viewed as trans, but as actual women. ("because that's how they identify.")

"I mean, a lot of people view their gender on a social level, so it doesn’t make a difference what’s under their clothes," Prata claims.

But even though Prata has built a career on transitioning men into feeling and looking like women, she admits a struggle in justifying those stereotypes with her strong beliefs regarding modern feminism. As NYM states, "Monica finds many of these signifiers troubling."

Yet, Prata has seemingly found a way to justify this incongruence:

So what, because they were socialized as men, now they have to overcompensate and be the women of all women? It doesn’t make sense.

I hate teaching the things I have to teach sometimes. My hope is that we surpass our current idea of gender and sexuality as binary and that what I do becomes antiquated and ridiculous.