I lingered over the title of this small piece of writing for a while, editing and erasing repeatedly before settling on the awkward and clunky title above.
Originally the title contained the word ‘passing’. Daring to pass. Adventures in passing. Funny stories about passing. Etc. Passing can be a large topic for me and yet it (passing) is something that happens effortlessly for me now.
I am Transsexual, female to male. It is very rare that I am read as anything other than a man who was born male in every day life. The first big exception to this rule is that I am sometimes clocked by other Transgender people. We can often recognize each other as Transgender. That and at times I feel myself clocked on some level by very small children, usually children who don’t have a handle on language yet and who rely on figuring everything out by visuals and intuition. Some times small kids stare at me, trying to figure me out. They do so openly, without shame, with fascination and joyful curiosity.
The rest of the world reads me as male, which is good. I see myself as male too.
So why the word ‘passing’? The term passing is related to passing something (a counterfeit) off as something else (something real). It also is connected to access, to getting passed in to something or someplace. Finally passing can be being passed by or passed over.
For me, and for many TS people, passing is a troubled idea. It’s often been said that we are not passing when we’re being seen as something we actually are. I’m male. Not only legally male but also I just am. I ‘m not sure how to say that any other way. One of the reasons I chose to undergo hormonal and surgical transition is that I believe my soul is male. Going through a gender transition was not a “sex change” but rather a re-alignment of my external self with my internal self. There is no counterfeit here now, post transition. I am more real than ever before.
By being read as I see myself, as male, in almost every social interaction, others in the Transgender communities would say that my passability also grants me access, that I am passed into. Not only am I read as male, I am also read as a cisgendered man, a man who was born male, and not as a Transsexual. There are some in the TG communities who see passing as assimillationist, and on some level as closeted and grasping at priviledge. I question that stance however. If all transgender people need to be visibly between genders to be true, isn’t that another way of stating that passing is a form of deception, this time coming from queer righteousness? Besides, passing is complex. I know my history at all times, whether its being seen by others or not.
I’m off on a tangent. The reason I sat down to write is that I have moments, living here in F-M where I blunder my way through passing/not passing. Most of them have more to do with the way I do maleness than with being read as male.I may write more about those moments at a later date.
*(This post was contributed by Harold Stripes, a member of the FM community. If you would like to be a contributing writer for the Pride Collective Blog please contact us!)