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nerves

Nerves are never helpful. They don't help when you when giving a speech and they don't help when are trying to pass in public.

Easy to say and hard to do I know.

Quite a while back I made a decision that I wasn't going to give away my peace of mind to someone else. I wouldn't give anyone the satisfaction of rattling me and guess what happened? I blend in better than ever.

Passing isn't being taken for a genetic woman every single time. It is instead being perceived as a secure and dignified person who is dressing and behaving as they like. That is what passing is. Many older transgender women don't pass and ironically some people who crossdress do so very well. It is about dignity and grace above all else.

But no matter the quality of presentation, all can be undone with nerves which is why we should avoid them.

Never give away your peace of mind to anyone because they haven't earned it.


Comments

  1. I agree wholeheartedly and it is definitely easier said than done, but worth working on. I had a similar post last month that addresses what "passing" really is: being treated with dignity.

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  2. At the risk of sounding pedantic, I recoil at the term "passing." As Janet Mock stated with such precision, "I'm not passing; I'm just being." I agree. And in truth, I don't think it's a matter of mere pedantics or political correctness, but the kind of careful attention to language that makes your rather noble denotation of "passing" easier - in my admittedly less-than-humble opinion.

    "Passing" or "Passing as" implies "Passing for something I am not." It's a masochistic entry into the trans lexicon. It is, perhaps, easy for me to say so as a person mistaken for cis every minute of every day. But, that's what's happening. I'm not lying. I'm being *mistaken* for cis. (If anyone asks, or it comes up, I will never lie (except maybe to save my own life when cornered by bigots out for blood, but I might not even then)). In any case, I am not doing anything wrong by being mistaken for cis. I'm just being myself. As is every other trans person whether they are mistaken for cis or not, or even want to be. And who cares if another person looks cis? Look however you want. Manifest *you*. I'll certainly have your back.

    We're not passing; we're just being. A mantra to repeat to get passed the nerves, I believe.

    Oh, and, as a side note, sometimes nerves have their utility. But this is out of context. As I have client's lives in my hands, I will never forget one of my mentor's saying, "The day you walk into court and are no longer nervous, just in that little bit, about what could happen to your client, it's time to quit. You don't care anymore." I know that's only tangentially related, but nerves, like fear, are alarm bells. They're to alert you to danger. Not make you afraid of it. The alarm has utility. The panic (or more in context, the surrender of your peace of mind to the judgment of others) does not.

    :)

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    Replies
    1. You make a great point here Caryn and the term isn't the best or most accurate to describe what I m trying to do which is fall under the radar such that my transness doesn't become a distraction and I can be treated respectfully.

      With regards to nerves I mean those that function at such a high level that you experience only tunnel vision and are afraid to look people in the eye. For me it was akin to paralysis which was preventing me from being myself. Those are the ones that are gone. 😁

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    2. "[Passing] isn't the best or most accurate [word] to describe what I'm trying to do which is fall under the radar such that my transness doesn't become a distraction and I can be treated respectfully."

      If by "distraction" you mean want to ensure that the fact that you are trans does not incapacitate other people's ability to "see" your "true self" - or even just as a physical safety measure - I am with you. But in my two-decades-long experience of being "lucky enough" traverse this reality in exactly that way without much effort, I have discovered it can lead to dark and lonely places. Your true self *is* a trans woman (as far as I can tell from the progress of your writing; I mean to impose nothing onto you), and *she* deserves *your* respect and dignity. I transitioned young enough to have reached my "second coming out," where I *wanted* people to know I was trans, to bring them closer, and I do hope that society (or some society that survives the coming century) will get to the point that there is no need to consider "appearing cis" for any reason other than that it helps reveal one's true self and makes one content.

      If by "distraction" you mean that you want to *hide* that you are trans *in order to be treated with dignity*, I am not with you. It is not dignity you will receive. It is the absence of indignity, which is not only not good enough, it is precarious and fraught with peril. And "passing" is exactly the term for it.

      "With regards to nerves I mean those that function at such a high level that you experience only tunnel vision and are afraid to look people in the eye. For me it was akin to paralysis which was preventing me from being myself. Those are the ones that are gone."

      True, one can *be anxious* or one can *have anxiety*. The latter is unquestionably better. I suppose my question to you, Joanna, do "the nerves" return if you are in a room where you no longer "pass?" And if so, what does that mean about your self acceptance?

      Please do not mistake my tone for judgment. Your words resonate with me because I've been there myself.

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    3. I will admit to you that it has felt comfortable passing as a ciswoman and I have been afraid of telling people I am trans but if they guess it and gave said nothing that's fine. I suppose that is my next goal in that I should come right out and say it rather than pretend I'm not. Many people do not know and I feel like I have gone too far to go back with them.

      I agree with you that it's best to take full ownership of it.

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    4. By the way not passing does not worry me in the least 😊

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    5. "By the way not passing does not worry me in the least 😊"

      Cool! I suppose I could say that, but at this point in my life, it would kinda freak me out. I mean, I don't worry about it because I simply don't have to, and even among other transwomen, when I out myself, there is always this hiccup in the conversation. Happened just yesterday. Just this, "Wait, what? You?" It doesn't last all that long, but it's palpable. So, I admit, if I were suddenly to discover that I were no longer mistaken for cis, or the trans-dar just honed in on me, it would be, ahem, an adjustment.

      "I will admit to you that it has felt comfortable passing as a ciswoman and I have been afraid of telling people I am trans . . . "

      Been there!

      "I suppose that is my next goal in that I should come right out and say it rather than pretend I'm not."

      Perhaps. Nothing wrong with staying on this plateau in the journey and enjoying it for a while. And I hope I did not inadvertently imply otherwise.

      I suppose, my way of putting it would be getting to where you really feel, "I'm not pretending, period." That doesn't mean it's anyone's business or that we should stamp "TRANS" on our foreheads. Even if it were perfectly safe to do so, why would we do that about any of our traits? 😋

      Whether you disclose your trans status or not, it's that sense of "pretending" from which I recoil when I hear people talk about "passing." That little bit of semantic masochism has been communally internalized to all of our detriments, and the fears I have experienced that I think compare to what you describe stemmed from it. So, this post of yours struck a chord with me.

      From what I read from this exchange of ours, Joanna, if I may be so bold, I've got news for you: You. Are NOT. Pretending! 😃 And I look forward to reading your particular description of that epiphany when it viscerally strikes you. 😉

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