How I’m Rewriting the “Trophy Wife” Script As a Queer Trans Woman

The concept of being a “trophy wife” is rightfully fraught. At best, it prioritizes the subject’s appearance and social status. At worst, it’s just plain dehumanizing. It reinforces the social value of unearned privilege either way. When I entered womanhood, I started rewriting the script, reconceptualizing the objectifying, default understanding of a trophy wife to a variant that values my efforts, achievements, and agency.

For trans women, learning womanhood in our adult years can be highly distressing. We often transition without the same resistance to media persuasion as our cisgender peers. And the support structures for cis women that foster body positivity, neutrality, and self-love often ignore trans people and the complications imposed by gender dysphoria.

We’re also dumped into the aesthetic expectations of womanhood with bonus horrors, like how aspiring to feminine ideals of appearance can be a tool for safety. “Passing,” or being read as cisgender, can shield us from violence and discrimination. This risk is etched onto the transgender body — we’re often centimeters away from violence, should anyone “find out.”

But embracing my trans identity was also the first time I became a person after more than two decades of un-life. For me, the cost-benefit analysis of womanhood checked out, despite the repression and risk that accompanied it.

It’s taking time to reconcile parts of me that seemed opposed to each other. On the one hand, there’s a part of me who wants to have a bimbofication arc. But I’m also an intersectional healthcare researcher. I faced the usual internalized shame for having “frivolous” and “feminine” desires. There was also the insidious, transphobic layer, a squirming rhetoric that cored itself into my brain: Do you want to be pretty just because it’s a fetish? You’re obviously an irredeemable outsider to womanhood if you think florals and long hair are so important.

It was the intersectional researcher in me who reassured the flighty young woman that it’s all fine. It’s fine to critique cisnormative femininity while wanting to embody parts of it. It’s fine to want an aesthetic that I find pleasing. It’s all fine, because the heart of my feminism is agency.

I’m building a bespoke form of womanhood that fits my vision and makes me happy.

I love my wonderful girlfriend. We’ve been at this nonsense for four years, and our relationship has only gotten better and better. She met me when I was an oddly charming, but agitated man, and we held each other through difficult and joyful years. She watched me overcome my driving anxiety during a medical emergency. We grappled with personal traumas across numerous late night conversations. We bought too many plush cats together.

Now, as I look forward to my future as a cheerful and bright young woman, I can only picture it in a relationship with someone else. Not because I am entirely dependent on others for my happiness, but because it’s hard to envision greater happiness than the one I built for myself. This applies to transition and relationships alike — I’m building my tomorrow, and I have to make it a happy one.

One fortunate thing about being transgender is that it exposed me to the joy of choosing my own name. I picked one out and I endeavor to live up to its warmth every day. I want to be the best version of myself, then I will pass the magnificence I’ve created to someone who deserves it.

That’s the heart of my re-written trophy wife script. Instead of wanting to be possessed by anyone with means, I’ve placed agency back into my hands. I want to be an extraordinary prize for someone who has earned the privilege. The “trophy” and “prize” components are still there, perhaps even problematically so, but I chose this for myself. I want to be treasured for my many wonderful qualities beneath the surface and held proudly by the person who chooses to date me.

I’ve also detached the primacy of a trophy partner’s appearance and social status from my script. That outmoded line of thinking privileges that which is unearned, and that’s the train of thought that led to the derisive term “trophy wife” in the first place. Ornamental, pretty, valued solely for being possessed. In my own version of being a trophy wife, I want to be prized for my skills, knowledge, and achievements first and foremost. Respecting my desire to iterate on my abilities is both profoundly respectful of my agency and a non-negotiable prerequisite to dating me. And:

I want to dazzle her with my intellect and hold her hand through all of life’s trials.

I want to fill her current perch with plush cats so that she never feels alone.

I want to build her the powerful gaming PC she so richly deserves.

I want to inundate her with hugs, no matter the occasion.

I want to fill her with such happiness that her joy turns heads wherever we walk so that people can see how lucky I am to belong to someone so precious.

All of this, I do for myself.

And then, I give to you.

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Summer Tao

Summer Tao is a South Africa based writer. She has a fondness for queer relationships, sexuality and news. Her love for plush cats, and video games is only exceeded by the joy of being her bright, transgender self

Summer has written 40 articles for us.


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