On Being a Trans Woman … Who Doesn’t Pass

Passing: Once a Matter Of Life And Death

The need for passing has evolved over time. In the early 1970s when I transitioned — five years after Stonewall — attitudes were harder against LGBT than they are today. Today LGBTQIA people are still vilified and held in contempt — just look at the comments below and in similar posts.

To keep away the unpleasantness, people felt obliged to do their utmost to bland into society — it was called “woodworking” in those days. Today some people call it stealth. Transitioning people simply faded away into society.

As I suggested, although there is still a great amount of prejudice, and we hear of transwomen being slain, society has in many places chilled out. The average Joe doesn’t feel compelled to get into someone else’s face because Joe, there, doesn’t like the outfit that someone else is wearing.

There is still discrimination and a lot of unpleasantness that trans people have to endure, but passing is less of life-and-death proposition.

Are there reasons to pass? Yes, just as there are reasons not to. Passing comes at a high cost and its more than just appearance. It all too often requires break away from family, a life partner, a job, a career path, or even the part of the country where one lives. For many people (and I can understand this perfectly, I think) it is too high a price to pay.

Actually, in a strange twist, the people who knew the transitioner from before have more trouble than someone who meets the transitioner post-transition — notice I did not say post-op because not everyone can take that path nor in my view should they feel compelled to. People who met the transitioner post-jump are less likely to see flaws and if they do see they, they do not matter as much. At least that has been my observation.

It is time for the fashion police and the gender posse to get on the right side of history. This genie is out of the bottle.