Let’s Talk About ‘Passing’

In both the transsexual and cross-dressing communities, the word “pass” is used to describe whether someone is perceived as the gender they’re presenting as, or “really” the other.

In both the transsexual and cross-dressing communities, the word “pass” is used to describe whether someone is actually perceived as the gender they’re presenting as, or perceived as “really” the other. As a transsexual myself, I spent the first month or so of my “transition” – i.e. the period many trans* people have to go through where we fight a stubbornly wrong-sexed body – overly concerned about whether I was “passing.”

Did people see me as the woman I strove to be, or a “guy in a dress”? I read countless articles about how to “pass.” I worried about everything – my appearance, mannerisms, and, most of all, my voice.

Fast-forward a month. Yes, I had a surgery (facial feminization) that really helped me to “pass,” or appear how I wanted to. And yes, I’m overall quite fortunate for someone ravaged by testosterone for thirty years: I was not tall, not hairy, and looked, for a male-bodied person, quite feminine.

I discovered that I had absolutely no problems “passing.” I wasn’t mis-gendered. When I asked a stranger for the key to the toilet, they gave me the one for the ladies’ room. I thanked the Fates that I was a “passable” tranny.

Then I start to question this all. Why should I be bothered about “passing”? I AM a woman. I’m not trying to trick anyone. I’m not trying to pose as something that I’m really not.

Why is our society so stuck on the notion of our birth genitals defining our gender, and for life? Why does someone, the moment they discover that I once had a penis, feel the need to call me “he”?

Watch out, that’s not really a woman! That’s really a guy.

Do you know anyone like this? Educate them, please.

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