Today I officially declared myself an arbiter of proper ladylike behavior. Issued the announcement via Twitter and Facebook:
Obviously I’m not a perfect lady myself, having immediately mocked the whole concept by using foul language in the second sentence of the announcement tweet.
But this speaks to a fundamental issue: A proper lady will not take herself too seriously! A proper lady knows that “ladylike behavior” is an abstraction and a ruse, yet chooses to employ it anyway. It’s a means to an end, and, for those that wish to participate, one of many pathways an individual may take toward creating a more civil and empowered society (if taken within proper context).
For a transgender lady such as myself, and perhaps for all ladies, ladylike behavior exercises empowerment. It provides an assertion of identity against a world that devalues the feminine. Deep in my transgender femme brain (and I’m only speaking for myself here), becoming a woman is never enough. I need to blossom into a lady. A “proper” lady. This liberates, not oppresses!
The best thing about this process is that I get to define “proper” and define “lady”. I’m creating something that works for me within the current time and place. Certainly I draw on a multitude of others’ etiquette manuals, blog posts, and how-to videos. I tap the Kama Sutra and the Bible for ideas. But the tiara stops with me—I’m the ultimate arbiter of my intent.
However, I plan to actively influence culture with my process and conclusions. Therefore I will add my voice to the growing worldwide call for promotion of civil, polite, feminine, demure (when appropriate), and of course, “ladylike” behavior by (interested) women of all ages. Will never treat my contribution as mandate, as many fabulous women will find no interest in it. This is perfectly fine.
My perspective proves unique in that no one taught me proper ladylike behavior growing up. The result is that I still “man-spread” and chug my beer when I lose mindfulness. As a work in progress recreating my own social construction from the ground up, I assimilate ladylike behavior as a foreigner learning a new language from scratch. This is beautiful and absurd. And it means all assumptions fell off the table.
So in my derivation of ladylike behavior for this social reconstruction I’m learning a lot about it, and intend to share my findings from a position only a transgender lady can offer.
Let’s get started!
Ladylike behavior involves many “musts”. I now issue my first:
“A proper lady never wears flip-flops in public, except at the beach, the pool, or the public shower.”
Proudly developed this “rule” myself; read it in no style guide or etiquette post.
The world is ours, ladies!
Update 27 April 2018
Received the following perspective-enhancing reply to my Facebook announcement:
Just reminds me to follow what I first admonished above: “A proper lady will not take herself too seriously!”. Also illustrates how “expertise” lies in the eye of the beholder.