As I began to write this article, I encountered several issues that made me pause to reflect:
• What is “Passing”
• Do we really want to pass?
• Why do we need to pass?
• Isn’t “Passing” a nod to binarism?
• Isn’t binary a nod to gender constructs?
From the instant I began writing and trying to put this piece together, I came across these and many other words used to describe different ways of identifying oneself.
Genderqueers, non-binaries, part-timers, crossdressing, and many other terms are used to describe all the “In-betweeners” those in the middle of what we all call “Masculine” and “Feminine” (I took away “Male” and “Female” from the list in trying to address the notion that we may or may not be what our bodies show).
I finally came to terms today, after all these mind conversations where I could not find a middle ground, to realize that my challenge was because of how I see myself and because of what I’ve gone through all these years.
I am a Transwoman, or in better terms, I am a Woman full-stop.
I identify as a woman because that is where I stand in this rainbow of possibilities. If you lined me up in a row with all the combinations, I would stand with the cis-females that also identify themselves as lesbians.
So, yes, I am a Lesbian. Or even better yet, what you may address as being a “Lipstick lesbian”. We lipsticks lesbians are very feminine women (makeup, heels, dresses, hair, accessories, etc.) who don’t hide the fact that we are into other women.
Which brings me back to the title: Do I need to “Pass? “Why would I want to pass?
We are a part of this world where all definitions are made by comparison; from (to or away) to something else. So, not masculine = feminine; not feminine = masculine. They are further quantified by how far away or close from the center we are, as in: not very manly, not very girly, super feminine, super masculine, hetero, very hetero, hetero-flexible (LOL) and any other term that compares the present choice to something else.
To me, passing is everything…
Why is it that I need to go through all that?
My mom always told me, “The way they see you is the way they treat you.”
At that point, I was only wearing graphic t-shirts with alternative rock logos and brands, so it made sense that I was telling the world how I perceived myself by comparison. Also, I stylized my teenage boy hair similar to those I considered the most “appropriate” role-models (to have a better relationship with me and my mother.)
Then the years passed, and so did the way I saw myself. I kept refining my image and what I wanted to project. I left home, and the transition kept going. I stopped buying clothes that were in-line with a teenage girl to purchasing those of a more refined and professional woman. I was still in my crossdressing phase and wondering whether or not it would fade out at some point.
Several years and many purges later, (those who have done them know precisely what I am talking about) I stopped crossdressing; that is, I no longer wore male clothes.
It was my desire to be treated as a respectable, fashionable, and professional woman in every place and situation that I went to. I tried to project that exact message (or as much as I could do) by my selection of clothes, age-appropriate shapes, colours and lengths, and by learning how to put together a full outfit for each occasion that fit that message.
You see, I am not perfect. I didn’t have the chance to wear pink, blue, red and green with a rainbow skirt and glittering sneakers like any other regular girl growing up.
I wasn’t able to wear low rise jeans with cropped blouses like any other teenage girl (of my generation).
No, I had to go through that cycle super fast, and then learn even quicker what woman of my age should wear to be treated as such in public.
And by doing all of this, I found that yes; I needed to be able to pass, at least as much as possible in the simple act of being me.
More Articles by MarianneView all articles by Marianne
Latest posts by Marianne (see all)
- My Spirit Animal - March 11, 2020
- The case for “Passing” - April 2, 2019
- A more detailed response to a Forum question - January 5, 2019
I love the quote from your Mom, “The way they see you is how they treat you.” It is so true and very telling about our culture. As a 69 year-old Trans-woman, I never cease to be amazed and pleased by how I am treated with respect and even deference, as an elder woman. While it is very pleasing, and validating, I realize it is only because am able to pass. I would certainly love to look, five, ten, even twenty years younger, who wouldn’t. But, it is so much easier to just be me, and that me pass most… Read more »
Firstly, I would like to say thank you. I am struggling with my identity, like most people on this site. I read your article ”The case with passing” this morning and it mirrors me almost perfectly. The boulder in my path is fear. I can’t shop for my feminine self and she is the one who needs a wardrobe.
I’m glad you found yourself being able to pass as yourself! Powerful implication there! I think it’s great you laugh at the “hetero-flexible” term. As a pansexual woman, yeah, I see that as a Bi+ term not a Straight one and giggle about it, too. But whatever makes people feel at ease, I suppose. I’m fascinated by Non-Binary folks. That one gender actually represents an infinity of possibilites. I know of at least 26 different pronoun sets. My state just made it our official third gender. I’ve met quite a few here. There’s a neat visibility project for Non-Binary folks… Read more »