As I’ve moved through my transition, a seemingly innocent phrase that comes with the territory of being trans has followed me around. Something that everyone seems to want to discuss, and expects that I should put a certain amount of weight upon. Something that I felt I should care much more about, but was always confused as to why I was, in fact, rather uncomfortable with.
The idea of passing.
Passing is thrown around a lot in the trans* community, and it’s not hard to see why. For many of us, having a target visual ideal to shoot for and obtaining social anonymity is both essential for our own body comfort and often our safety. So as I moved through the months in Hormone Replacement Therapy and entered my androgynous phase I steeled myself towards the knowledge that I probably wouldn’t blend in and be seen by strangers as “acceptably” female all the time, and comforted myself with the knowledge that eventually, I would pass. And things would be better.
But I couldn’t deny that something about that irked me.
Coming to the place I am now and talking about my life as a trans woman with many different types of people over this past year has made me realize the social subtleties and patterns that make up a good chunk of people’s perceptions of what passing is, and more importantly - the misconceptions.
For a long time I tried to hold up passing as something pretty important. However what I have come to realize about what was bothering me this whole time, is that people seem to think that I care about passing, or at least that I SHOULD care about passing for all the wrong reasons.
Firstly, there is an idea that my desire to inhabit a certain visual aesthetic is rooted in my desire to encapsulate or “obtain” an idea of femininity. As in, I am attempting to mask an inherit “lack” of being female by adorning and modifying myself to fit into a nice, easy-to-digest socially acceptable image.
Secondly, the idea that my transition’s end objective is to appear cisgender. Which, to me carries the connotation that appearing gender-variant is, for some reason unsavory and that I, of course, would never want to appear as anything other than binary.
And finally the idea that the fact that I once looked different and lived a different life means unequivocally and plainly that I was once a man and am now a woman. The idea that I come to a point in my life of being a man and only after a certain amount of body modification can I - and more importantly SHOULD I - be able to call myself truly and “fully” a woman.
I’d like to make it clear right now exactly how much that’s fucking bullshit.
Because when I look back on myself and see the person I am now, I realize I had put so much stress and weight on the idea of pressuring myself into a narrow idea and hoping that people would accept it, I completely missed the point of why the hell I even transitioned in the first place:
I just wanted to look like myself.
When I looked at my reflection in the mirror a year ago, I didn’t see the person who I knew I had been hiding all along, and I knew I needed to change that. But the thing is, the reasons why I needed to change weren’t because of some desperate struggle to grasp some semblance of something I felt I was lacking, they were to shed the lie that I had held dear to cover up who I truly am. To find out who exactly that person buttoned up and trapped deep inside was.
So when I got all this shit about “passing as a woman” and how apparently important it should be to me, I was left feeling puzzled and soured at my expected readiness to perform into an idea of what others thought was acceptable.
Because it was never my intention to pass as acceptable.
It was never my intention to pass as an image of femininity.
It was never my intention to pass as cis.
It was always my intention to pass as me.
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