By Monica M
The final software skill one needs (in my opinion) and which really feeds and enhances all others is the internal female operating software. With apologies to Tolkien, “One skill to rule them and in the darkness bind them.”
I guess you could liken it to the spiritual side. It is the spirit of being a woman. It is being in touch with your body and with your emotions. It is a very different operating system from the male one. Since we have mostly been brought up to ignore our feelings and not be in touch with our bodies, we (as socialized males) need serious coaching in this area... well, I did.
The Art of Feminine Presence (AFP) is an intensive weekend course held in various locations around the country during the year. Usually, the intensive weekend is held in association with a teacher training weekend. I started on the intensive weekend in Portland in 2012 and followed that with the Teacher Training Level 1. I went to Atlanta in 2013 and did Teacher Training 2. I am now the first openly TG person to be a certified Level 2 Teacher in AFP.
Basically, what you learn in AFP is how to listen to your body. How to be aware of it physically, energetically and emotionally. As it is designed to reacquaint women with the Yin side that they have ignored and left behind (through the stresses of the modern world, jobs, etc.), it is ideal for us. It provides us with the skills and experiences that we missed when we took the male socialization path. The intensive weekend gives enough of the basics for you to work on by yourself. The Teacher Training provides new practices, but also takes the earlier practices to a deeper level.
Rachael Jane (the power behind AFP) has written a book about her techniques and those who are interested can check it out here.
Rather than go through the various techniques, I will just document what this body of practice did for me. The benefits were indeed many. I cannot recommend this practice too highly.
The work looks at the Yin and Yang energies that we all have and seeks to tap into the correct energy for the given situation. This seems much more sensible to me than talking about feminine and masculine.
Through the practices, I have really got in touch with my Yin energy. I am now much more in touch with my feelings. I cry more, I laugh more and I feel more. I spend much less time in my head and more time in my body. I know what makes me happy and what makes me sad. I know what success as a woman means to me because I have learned it through my body rather than intellectualized about it.
I remember during my first intensive weekend 18 months ago, one of the ladies (whose name escapes me) said to me that she would be curious to see what effect this work would have on me if I practised it diligently for a year. Well, I think I now have the answer!
The confidence gained through the application of the techniques in this work has led to a kind of virtuous spiral. The better I am at projecting as a woman, the more confidence I have. It has touched every aspect of my presentation from my voice to my movement and walk.
Through the work, I am able to ground very quickly if I am in a situation where I am read. Before, my thoughts would go into my head and I would panic. Now I ground myself in my womb space and carry on. I am not responsible for the other person's reaction to me. I can now fully accept that I am transgender and that this state is not something to be embarrassed about.
I am far more confident in my femininity. On my last teacher training course in April, at least two of the women (unprompted) said to me that I was more in touch with my feminine side than any of the cisgender women in the room. Also, during the course, a number of people (including Rachael Jane and Don, the photographer) said that there was no doubt in their minds that my core essence was feminine.
This work has really helped me to find the joy in life and the joy in being the type of woman that I am. Joy flows from this work. It is also very good for getting you in touch with what you really want, rather than what you think you want.
But above and beyond that, it gave me a group of wonderful, supportive and loving women friends, who I will be in contact with for the rest of my life and who I know I can call on if I need help. They all know that I am transgender, but have no problems accepting me as one of their own. What more can a transgender woman ask for?
To me, this is the essence of being a woman; the hardware is just the sugar dusting on the icing. None of my new women friends care about my hardware; in fact, none have ever even asked me about it! To them I am Monica! I love these women; I have found my real joy in being a woman.
|I love being a woman! |
(Part 17 of One Person’s Journey to Womanhood appeared here.)
Wearing Tahari Arthur S. Levine.
Actor Kenneth-Connor femulating in the 1963 British film Carry On Cabby.