I walk into the bar and I feel the eyes. They look. Men and women both but mostly the women. I’m tall, 6’1″ in flats and powerfully built for a woman, so they really have a nice long look. Part of me wondering if they knew I was a man up until 7 months ago. Did they watch the Bruce Jenner interview? The other more rational side, the survivor, the warrior, the more evolved soul says, “look all you want, knock yourselves out.”
I AM tall and strong as a woman. As a man I was on the tall side and fit, but as a woman, noticeably more powerful than most. People often stop and ask me what sport I played. I apparently read like a former high level female athlete. Sometimes I play with them claiming to be a former volleyball champion, waterpolo or basketball player. They are intrigued. Usually  I just stay closer to the truth, that I was a ultra endurance swimmer, paddleboard racer and surfer. As a man I was all those and among the top 5 in the country.
As a woman, this carries less clout. Woman are judged quite differently. Men are judged by what they have and do. Women primarily for how we appear. The scrutiny a woman undergoes so much more intense than any man could imagine. How pretty is she? What is she wearing? Hair, make up, clothes, shoes, jewelry or lack thereof. Age appropriate, trendy, fashionable, dated?  Every single detail examined. Men are the easy audience.  Every woman knows women are the real jury. Put on a short dress, heels and heavy make up and men will dance about like happy terriers. Do the same with their women along and be crucified.
I used to laugh at my daughter and other women for being so self conscious, but believe me when I say this judgement thing is no joke. I was as secure and confident as a man could be walking into a room, knowing I had the chops to stand with any of them. Being centered and unconcerned with others opinions a simple task. Now, seeing it as a woman, the effort can be exhausting. I have gained new respect for women who have been able to rise above it. Perhaps and hopefully something that comes with age and more experience.

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