Even just saying that I now feel more in touch with my emotions comes with an absurd amount of gendered baggage. Not only will I be more inclined to attribute this to HRT because of everything I’ve heard throughout my life about the supposed essential natures of men and women, but those who hear it will take it as yet more evidence of “Ah, yes, women are emotional creatures tossed about on the winds of their feelings, but men are cold and rational!”
If I didn’t make a conscious effort to think more deeply about this, I might not have realized that what I’m actually sensing is a greater control over my feelings – an ability to see them more clearly, observe their features, and not be as unduly influenced by them as I used to be. If I hadn’t been able to put aside those crude stereotypes about men and women, I wouldn’t have been able to communicate all of that nuance to everyone who wants to know what this is like. So, is this a “male” or a “female” phenomenon? If I’m a man, a greater grasp of emotions might mean I’m diplomatic, understanding, and good at handling conflict. If I’m a woman, it makes me “sensitive”.
Likewise, if I were to point out that I now find it much easier and less stressful to deal with cooking, cleaning house, and taking care of the kids, most people wouldn’t be able to avoid seeing this as further evidence that women are somehow optimized for domestic life and men are just naturally lousy at household duties, as illustrated by every commercial ever. These beliefs are so pervasive and occluding that it would be easy to stop at that shallow observation and ignore the fact that this just happens to be what I spend all day doing, and maybe it only feels easier because everything feels easier for me now. Is it male or female to be happy? If I’m a man, it makes me a stronghold of enduring optimism. If I’m a woman, it makes me “perky”.