“It’s hard to feel like woman when the parts that make me the gender I am, have become weapons. My cervix, uterus, tubes and ovaries had to go. My weekly hot-flashes are a brutal reminder of a loss of life’s greatest cycle…”

Some are  not really sure what makes a woman, anymore. Is it the curve of a body, the sharp wit of the mind, or the ability to produce children? Is it everything and nothing… all at once? The recent piece on Caitlyn Jenner by the ever-eye-rolling Matt Walsh had me infuriated. “Female Glory,” my arce. I’ll tell you about female glory- it has nothing to do with curves or a penchant for the color pink. I’m not my vagina. I’m not my breasts. And sadly- I’m no longer my butt. Which is tragic- because at one point, I heard it was something of terrible importance. It’s been 2 years now. I’m not less of a woman- I’m more.

I suppose in some circles, I’m not a woman. Women have reproductive systems that enable the creation and birth of children. After cancer, I don’t have any of the necessary ingredients to create another being.  Sometimes, I call it, “Phantom Womb Syndrome.“ I’m losing my body, piece by precious piece- to what can only be assumed to be a tub of medical waste. The unnecessary. Here I am without my womanly bits. But say it again- I think: The unnecessary. I am still here. I am still a woman.

Joining those bits are strategically-cut pieces of my butt. (I realize typing the term, “strategically-cut pieces of my butt” probably breaks the rules of blogging. I’m strangely okay with this.)  I’m missing several pieces after my last run-in with the colo-rectal surgeon and I have no doubt I’ll be missing a few more after my next surgery in about 2 weeks. I didn’t want the other body parts to feel lonely- half of my vagina, fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus have been joined by the butt of all jokes– my butt. The GLORY of womanhood.

In a short while, I won’t have breasts to define my body, either. A history in my biological family of breast cancer, had me check my genes to find out I carried BCRA-2. This meant no hormone replacement therapy after my hysterectomy. The hot flashes and wake-me-up-out-of-a-sound-sleep-night-sweats are not-so-gentle reminders that my body, isn’t what it used to be. Of it all- I will miss my breasts the most. But in each moment, I’m thankful to be here.

All this is happening just in time for me to teach my beautiful daughter about what it means to identify as female. She is growing and changing in the dualism of the expected and unexpected. I hope I can be a reminder that while many believe the glory of the female form lies in it’s curves and the promise of new life– I find my femininity in the most unlikely of places. I remember being in college and thinking my womanhood belonged in tight jeans and a low-cut shirt. It’s amazing how at 33, entire perceptions change.

My femininity is part of my humanity- or so I’d like to believe.  I have arms to carry my beautiful children. I have legs to run after their giggles. I have fingers to gently to quickly calculate reporting figures for my job. I have toes to dig into the wet grass with a mimosa in my hand. I have a mind that understands that even at my most frustrated and contemplative… womanhood is so much more than I was once told it was.

I see my idea of womanhood- as the ever-changing and all-encompassing possibility that each one of us is unfinished- that I am breathing life into what I want to become each day. Breathe in. Breathe out.

I’m well aware that my journey may not make sense to another individual. Therefore, I’m not to judge anyone else. The simplicity of life is often startling, isn’t it?

I would never want my gender judged on the body parts I had or didn’t have- I can’t imagine any human being would. I identify as a woman with or without almost every piece that makes me so- because just like my sometimes New York state of mind, my womanhood is not  allowed to be questioned- even by myself. All too often, individuals feel that genderhood must be tangible: If we can’t see it or feel it… it does NOT exist. How unfortunate for them, that they haven’t realized that genderhood is intrinsic: We are simply, because we believe we are.

Truer words have never been spoken.