On (Not/) Passing

I think about passing a lot because I don’t pass. I mean I don’t look/act/talk/sound/walk/dress in a way that invites an easy, coherent gender label. I don’t look traditionally female or male. Not passing creates problems for me. I notice I take a lot more anxiety with me into public spaces now, because I don’t know how random people I’ve never met before will treat me. It takes me a lot longer to get ready before going out as well, most often because my limited wardrobe doesn’t offer me a wide sampling of outfits or looks that I think look good on my current (not-)male-and-(not-)female body. Clothing is way harder to find now, but so is having a face that looks coherently feminine. When I look coherently feminine, I’ve noticed people treat me better, they give me female pronouns without me having to ask, and I generally feel more at ease (until I start speaking). Passing acts like a bubble of additional safety I can take with me into unfamiliar places and situations. Therefore, passing–presenting a coherent and single binary-aligned gender–comes with privilege.

So when I read something like this, it thrills me. I would love to not have to worry about passing as much as I do. I wish our culture afforded people with non-binary, genderqueer, and transgender appearances the type of recognition that would help me feel less like an outsider in public. I wish our culture simply accepted other genders than male and female as, well, existing. It’s getting better, but there’s still passing and not-passing privilege, which indicates our culture still values unified binary genders more than ambiguous or dissonant genders.

So an article like this really grills my cheese.



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