Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Misunderstanding of "Passing"

Man_Woman

Have you heard of the term "Passing?" No I'm not talking about "Farting," although I can see how you would thinkg that. The term "Passing" is predominately used in the "Trans Community."

Passing refers to a person's ability to be regarded as a member of the sex or gender with which they physically present.

I've read my share of accounts by excited transgender folk who go out in public and express all sorts of excitement for having felt like they "passed," or complete heatbreak because they feel they will never "Pass."

The feeling of "passing" is wonderful because usually it means you didn't get beat up while in public if someone realized you were Transgender. But the reality of "passing" can be completely different.

I'm currently reading "Bossypants" by Tina Fey and in it she talks about people's reaction to the noticeable scar on her face.

"I've always been able to tell a lot about people whether they ask me about my scar." says Tina.

"Most people never ask..." "Sometimes it's a fun litmus test, like when my friend Ricky asked me, "Did they ever catch the black guy that did that to you?" Hmmm. It was not a black guy, Ricky, and I never said it was.

"Then there's another sort of person who thinks it makes them seem brave or sensitive or wonderfully direct to ask me about it right away."

"It wasn't until years later...that I realized people weren't making a fuss over me because I was some incredible beauty or genius; they were making a fuss over me to compensate for my being slashed. I accepted all the attention at face value and proceeded through life as if I really were extraordinary."

I can see how being Trans in public can be similar to having a scar on your face. On one hand people may realize your Trans, meaning you're not "Passing," but they will treat you as the gender you want to be perceived. On the other hand you'll get strangers being extra nice to you because they realize you're trans and they understand the struggles of being Trans. AND on the other hand you'll get those folk who simply didn't have a clue you were trans.

I think where trans folk need to arrived emotionally is where Tina arrived when she wrote:

"I accepted all the attention at face value and proceeded through life as if I really were extraordinary."

Often I think Trans folk get caught up in the "I am putting so much time and energy in looking the way I want to look that I better get some compliments and have my efforts acknowledged. When in reality, a lot of strangers simply couldn't give a rats ass how much work you put into your look. After all, what are you to them?

Another issue Trans folk have, and this of course is not limited to Trans folk, is this ultra sensitivity to being offended. Chances are that if you're looking to get offended then there are no shortage of idiots out there that will offend you. Take an idiot yelling inappropriate verbiage to a Trans person walking down the street for example. There could be many reasons the idiot is yelling at you other than the fact he's an idiot. It could also be because He was offended by the presence of someone that seems "different" then He. After all, you're just minding your own business walking down the street, it's not like you set out to provoke him...or did you, you naughty girl?

In turn if the Trans person is walking around feeling like he or she doesn't want to be offended then BOOM. Recipe for disaster. Now everyone is offended and things could get ugly.

I'm offended that you are offended by my presence!

In conclusion. I think we should all take "passing" at face value and keep in mind that some people don't care if you're a man or a woman so long as you are a contributing member of society. And if someone feels the need to make a comment about your gender when you're not ready to talk about it then simply switch the topic to "Have you read Bossypants by Tina Fey?"