Regular readers of this blog know I am keenly interested in the behavioral differences between men and women.
So, imagine my excitement at the opportunity to discuss the Mars/Venus dichotomy with someone who’s been on both sides of the equation.
I’ve written about the fact that most men can’t distinguish between coral and pink and most women can’t read a map. I’ve also explored gender divergence in shopping, packing, and illness as well as the critical issue of outdoor peeing.
Fran is a transgender management consultant in her 60s, who has periodically presented as female since the age of 14. She fully transitioned some 10 years ago, but before that she presented as a man in the corporate world, and as a woman in her consulting practice.
Today, her resume reads: “gender fluid, presenting as a woman.” Surprisingly, this label has actually opened a few doors in the “woke” era of diversity. Fran tells prospective clients she can offer unique insights (both male and female) into both markets and people.
As an example, she cites a consulting assignment with a husband/wife company that was on the verge of bankruptcy. The wife, who managed the finances, knew it, but the husband, who handled operations thought he could bluff his way out of the crisis with additional loans.
“Men pound tables and talk louder when they want to make a point. Women ask questions,” Fran explains.
Backing up the wife, Fran asked a series of questions that helped the husband reach the inevitable conclusion on his own – they were in deep trouble and needed a new strategy.
Fran has become viscerally aware of how women get treated when they are the only one at the conference table. The same ideas that were readily accepted when she offered them as a man, were dismissed out of hand when she offered them as a woman.
“I feel like I must have lost 10 or 20 IQ points.”
Transitioning presented another set of challenges.
“There have been business situations where a client was taken aback when I walked in. With one or two exceptions, that has gotten resolved. I had a client who was saying “he” for the first couple of days of an engagement, but after I earned his respect, he changed to calling me ‘she’ which was gratifying.
“The only other stumbling block is that women’s pants do not have useable pockets. That’s crazy.”
On the positive side, Fran cites the gal pals she’s made. She belongs to four or five women’s organizations, where she has been well received, formed friendships and been amazed by the “phenomenal” women she’s gotten to know.
“When men hand out business cards, they’re just looking for business. Women are looking for relationships.”
Fran also admits that she’s changed over the years.
“I’m much less self-absorbed and more aware of how other people view a situation.” She now picks up on all the non-verbal cues she might have missed as a man.
Fran attributes the transformation to female hormones, which she took for 10 years. Studies done at the University of California San Francisco seem to back her up, linking a variety of non-sexual behavior to hormones and hormone therapy.
I should point out that Fran has been married to the same woman for more than 30 years –substantiating my long-held opinion that there’s a lot to be said for same-sex marriage even for couples who aren’t gay.
At the end of our conversation, I asked Fran what she would like other people to know.
“It’s not easy being me. Nor is it easy for others who are like me,” she said. “If you encounter someone who’s gender non-conforming, just accept them. Call them by their preferred name and pronoun. It’s very little to ask.”
I agree. Your comments here.