the politics of passing

There is no question that blending in makes things a lot easier. Once I became entrenched in my own self-acceptance I was able to use the physical advantages to disappear as much as I could into the cisworld; if not perfectly than at least well enough to have most people ignore me. If I were shorter it would be even easier although lately I saw a very attractive young woman who must have been 6’3” and no one questioned her gender because she was the living picture of womanhood.

Passing privilege must affect mindset. A Janet Mock doesn’t think the same as a Miranda Yardley because they are a different species. One is an attractive woman who could easily pass for cis while the other does not blend in at all. Perhaps because of this reality, Yardley does not think that transwomen should be called women.

Perspective is everything.

My friend Sherry transitioned young and thinks of herself as just another woman. She has dropped the trans prefix which works fine for her as you would never think of her as anything but an archetypal specimen of a female. Her partner doesn’t know her past and perhaps its just as well given the bias in this world for this type of difference by people who are not always open to understand. Sherry does not blend into the trans world in any capacity other than perhaps read my blog and tell me her thoughts by email or Messenger.

My friend Caryn, a frequent commenter here and another young transitioner, is in much the same position in being able to choose who she tells.

We are all different, but I would like to think that passing politics will be a lesser factor as time moves on. I have since discovered that it was my own self confidence which took things over the top and, no matter how much my advantages should have helped me, they couldn’t if I didn’t first believe in myself.

Passing used to be the holy grail in a world hostile to trans people but today it is the confidence to be whole and in harmony with yourself and that is what we should be our priority above all other things.


  1. It is a fascinating observation indeed that we live on a spectrum of experience such that each of us resonates our own explanation for the transgender phenomenon. Being mistaken for cis does have it's privileges, but it also has its advantages - for all of us. That is to say, those of us who are routinely mistaken for cis have a role to play in opening people's hearts when we choose to out ourselves. Each disclosure, done well, in my opinion, is an act of diplomacy, a revelation that I am non-threatening, that I am just being myself, as are all my sisters, brothers and others, to whose family you knew not I belonged. My being mistaken for cis, as much an accident of nature as simply being cis, forces those cis folk to whom I disclose to reckon with the fact that they still *see* my true self despite the knowledge they learned. Whereupon it is incumbent upon me to explain that the way they resolve the dissonance they might feel upon the blending of genders presumed to behave like oil and water, is the same for anyone, whether they are mistaken for cis or not or if they even want to be. Each is just being him~ or her-or them self. See that self.

    1. I do appreciate the fact that I am not automatically read and can choose to come out to people selectively. I am not ashamed to be trans by any means but I don't want that to be the first thing to come out of my mouth when I am dealing with people. If someone figures it out and says nothing that works fine by me. I would like to see a day where people are just presenting as they feel comfortable and we don't feel the need to judge or make commentary on it but we are still a ways off from that.


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