150) “How did you know you were trans?” Part 4 – Gorillas & bellydancers

– photo is from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/heres-why-men-and-women-tend-to-walk-differently/photostory/65933430.cms

Girl vs. Guy Walks

It’s pretty obvious that, on average, guys and girls walk a little differently.  Of course, this varies, from person to person and culture to culture.  Some women walk very ‘masculine’; some men very ‘feminine.’  Etc. 

But in general, it’s accurate to say that men & women walk a little differently.  (Seriously, spend a few days watching the people you encounter, and note how they walk.  I practically guarantee you, if you’ve never done this before, or never without some specific pieces of information to look for, then it is going to both amuse you, and blow your mind with how much you can READ about people just by their posture and gait.)

The way that I think about it, when it comes to gender, walking exists on a continuum.  One end of this continuum has a silverback gorilla.  The other has a sultry, cartoon-feline.  I’m sure you know what I mean.

Or, more in human terms, I think of it as having football linebackers at one end, and belly dancers at the other.

Now, OBVIOUSLY (I hope it’s obvious anyway), this isn’t to say that women walk more “sexy-like” than men, or men are gorillas or….whatever.  Ok?  Sexiness abounds in both the classically masculine, “gorilla” walk and the classically feminine “belly dancer” walk.

I mean, just take a second and think of some DAMN SEXY men, and women, who have, in some movie or whatever, just — slayed. Personally, I find this extremely easy to do….

**whew — I’m getting a little overheated here** — I need a drink of water; I’ll be right back….

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I’m also not claiming that all men walk a certain way, and all women walk a certain way.  It’s like saying “men are generally taller than women”, even though, obviously, there are many women taller than many men.  (My sister is 5’11”…) 

AS AN ASIDE — I wish to the high heavens that people could learn to talk about things like averages and “in general” and baserate characteristics of social categories, etc., in a purely descriptive way, without having to constantly force the communicator to second-guess their language, and fend off the poorly-thought-through knee-jerk reactions of “But people are different; my Aunt Betsy walked like a lumberjack so this is stupid; not all men; not all women; what about people who can’t walk; blahblahblabhblahblah.”

It’s just so tiring trying to constantly, constantly re-explain your meaning to someone, if they are motivated to just jump on your words and question every nuance they can find, so you have to qualify everything upside-down-and-backwards.

There is listening in good faith, there is solid critical thinking, and then there is being argumentative, insisting you are “just being logical” or some shit, when in truth you are engaging in spin and sophistry because you are pre-committed to disagreeing.

I’ve seen this in social media and IRL enough times that I think I’m getting better at stepping out of it.  It is pretty much the same, albeit in a different context, as relationship gaslighting.  I have come to believe that the generally best strategy, other than perhaps giving a person FIRST the benefit of the doubt and trying to both listen and explain yourself in good faith, is to step out of it; you won’t get anywhere except to burn up a lot of time and emotional energy that you could have spent living life and investing your time and love in the people who will appreciate you for who you are.

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This is also why, in terms of blogging, (sorry for being all ‘meta’ here), I do my best to articulate my understanding of these issues from both a personal and a scientifically informed perspective.  It takes time, and a lot of words, omg…. But, then it’s here, and if anyone does want to understand, I’ve already done the work to articulate things as best I can, in good faith, and open-heartedly. So I feel quite comfortable in simply “not engaging” in the debate, for the most part.

And seriously, I know the biology very well; the absurdity of the “there are only two genders/sexes — it’s just science” perspective is… embarrassing. I’m sorry, but it is. It’s so archaically misinformed that it’s like, dude, where have been for the past century? Just because you like to assert that a simplistic slogan is true, doesn’t make it true; it just makes you look like you don’t know what you are talking about and you’re refusing to update your understanding of the world. Many people also struggled (and still do!) to accept that the Sun doesn’t really revolve around the Earth, evolution is real, animals have intelligence and emotions, Jesus wasn’t a White conservative, and other such troubling and disturbing things.

I have zero interest in wading through the misinformation of people with anti-trans attitudes. I see these “debates” on Facebook and such, and it’s just like, oh my god seriously people, you are exemplifying exactly the best argument for why a 21st-century, science-informed gender curriculum NEEDS TO BE TAUGHT IN SCHOOL.

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Moving forward here, let us please understand that when saying things like “walking like a girl” or “men walk like gorillas”, or “women walk like bellydancers,” I’m making analogies, and RELATIVE statements, for descriptive purposes, hoping they help fill-in-the-blanks with my intended meaning.  For example, looking at how gorillas vs. bellydancers walk IS highly instructive for looking at some of the key postural differences between men-in-general and women-in-general.

(NOTE: I don’t know of a gorilla bellydancer.  If that exists though, Mind = Blown….)  🙂

So like, please go with the intended gist of what I’m using the analogy for; no analogy is perfect.  That’d be awesome.

Because, this works.  At least, it did for me. 

Once I put the following information into practice, it changed my entire life. In like, 5 seconds.

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“The Masculine”:  Silverback Gorillas & Linebackers

  • side-to-side body movement is centered in the shoulders (think, the macho swagger as the upper torso rocks sideways)
  • the center of gravity is high
  • the head leads the body
  • the stance is wider, feet tend to flare slightly outwards (if at all)
  • the butt is tight and responsible for holding the torso in position
  • the arms are held slightly ‘out’ as though the person has very strong lats and thus, just can’t help having their arms slightly bowed outwards (think, The Hulk).
  • the hands are turned very slightly inwards (i.e., left hand rotates slightly clockwise; right hand counter-clockwise (again, think silverback gorilla)

NOTE: Again, and obviously, not all men walk like this.  There are cultural differences (e.g., Latino men have more hip action than White dudes typically…), size & muscular differences (e.g., skinnier dudes won’t have as ‘outward’ flaring arms – although they’ll usually still try to….), fitness differences (e.g., athletes and yoga dudes and such stand more from their core & with their heads aligned), etc….

But, go for a walk down the street, and note the postural mechanics of guys walking around.  I stand my ground here.

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“The Feminine”: Animated Felines & Bellydancers

  • side-to-side body movement is centred in the hips (think, the hip-sashay of the runway model); shoulders are relatively still
  •  the centre of gravity is lower
  • the head is more vertically-aligned, placing less emphasis on the butt, and allowing the torso to be supported more by the core
  • the chest/heart leads the body
  • the stance is narrower; feet tend to align more closely in a line as the woman walks (which accentuates butt/hip movement – again, think the exaggerated walk of the runway model; they actually cross their feet as they walk to maximize this butt/hip accentuation)
  • the arms are held closer to the body with the elbows a little tighter to the torso. (This is in part because most women’s elbows hyper-extend.)
  • movement of the arms is less about the shoulder-swing and more about the elbow-forearm
  • the hands are turned very slightly outwards; there might even be a little sideways wrist-finger-flick at the outer range of the arm-swing, in conjunction with the outer range of the corresponding hip-sashay

NOTE: And, again, not all women walk like this, etc.etc….  Remember, these are average differences, acknowledging the variability within each category.

(IF you want a more formal breakdown, there are tons of YouTube videos on this.  I’m giving you the gestalt that, for me, worked.  But there’s way more info out there!)

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Think of the “masculine vs. feminine” variability in walking, as though it exists on a continuum.  Like the balance knob on a stereo system, you can turn the dial however you want.

(NOTE: In reality, this is way more complex than just one single control knob or one continuum between two end-points. But, it’s a big enough leap to go from thinking categorically, to thinking in terms of a spectrum or continuum. THAT is a big advance in thinking, and if people will do the work to shift themselves out of binary, off/on, yes/no, man/woman, right/wrong, etc., logic, HOLY SHIT we would be able to get somewhere in our common understanding of things. To go beyond even that, and think about a multidimensional “phase space” in which the underlying dynamics of things organize themselves through the interaction of many “continuums” — is a much bigger step.)

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The point is, you HAVE a kind of Masculine and Feminine dial (or really, dials). And you can control it; you can adjust that dial however you want, and as you do, you’ll see how your “inner self” responds. Something might feel weird, something else more comfortable, something else embarrassing, something else might even feel sexy, or strong, or any number of things. It’s quite likely that some configurations of your postural mechanics, will even be triggering, and activate strong feelings in you.

And, if you pay attention to yourself, if you “tune in”, then you can fine tune your dial. You can learn to make tiny, tiny adjustments, and then your own consciousness will tell you what’s “right”, what “fits”, what is true/best for you.

THIS, to me, is the reality of being trans. It’s realizing that what is “right” or “true” for you, is way more complicated, and awesome, than a lever that was set at “male” or “female” when you were born and the doctors & parents looked at your junk.

This is the ultimate irony, I think, with the trans-phobia of the “Freedom” crowd. Because being trans? Setting your own dials where you most authentically feel they work best for you?

That’s true freedom.

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In the next post — let’s talk about fine-tuning your own dials a little bit…if you are interested.


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