Saturday, February 10, 2018

More Privilege?

I received two excellent comments from the passing versus privilege post here in Cyrsti's Condo. Here they are:


  1. Sure, there is some privilege for one who may pass. The truth is, though, that very few trans women actually pass - especially those who have had to experience their male puberty. It was my thought that I couldn't pass that kept me in the closet for so many wasted years. What I finally learned is that I don't have to pass as a woman, but I do have to pass muster. That is, if I present myself with style, grace, and confidence, people are more apt to be accepting of me - if not as a true woman, at least as a true human being.

    Whether one is cis or trans, men and women are sized up by others all the time (rightly or wrongly). First impressions have always been important, and those who can make a good one are more destined to be received favorably, i.e. passing muster. I have found that living under this premise has made my life so much easier. I even end up actually passing sometimes, and I take those incidences as pleasant surprises rather than accomplishments of a goal.

    The man for whom I work during the summers is my next door neighbor. I had known him for a year before he hired me, and I never expected that I was passing to him. He had seen me when I was all gussied up and leaving to go out for the evening a few times, but our interactions were more often discussions over the back fence while I was working in the yard or taking the garbage out. I certainly was not concerned with passing on those occasions, but I was mindful of being a good neighbor and human being. After about a week into my employment, I needed to bring up a problem I was having with his designated supervisor, who had been mis-gendering me. When my neighbor gave a puzzled look to me and my complaint, I started thinking the worst, and that he was not sympathetic to my dilemma. I restated my concern, and began explaining how hurtful it is for a trans person to be mis-gendered. He then stopped me and said, "I didn't know that. I always thought you were a tall woman with a low voice."

    As remarkable as that revelation was to me, I also learned later that I was the first woman he had hired to have successfully done this job in his 30 years of business. Since he hired me, he now has three other women in his employ. Maybe I am a sort-of advocate, after all! The disappointing thing, however, is that his solution to my problem with the supervisor was to keep us away from each other as much as possible. At least I've experienced no further mis-genederings during our short and infrequent encounters.
  2. Fully agree that no one is more trans or above any others. We are each on our own journeys, and all are valid.

    I’ve also contemplated the problem for all trans that passing privilege perpetuates. Of course, this intersects with those for whom achieving a high level of passing is of utmost importance.

    And then there are these youngsters who’re receiving puberty blockers and, later, HRT, and just entering their lives as the gender they are in their hearts. By definition almost they will disappear into society.

    In the meantime I am what I am. I just try to look nice and appropriate, behave as a nice woman, and smile. Maybe that helps in a small way to normalize our transgender presence, validity, and awareness.
Thanks to Connie and Emma for your comments. As we have said here many times, every time we interact with the public, many times we are carrying the load of the entire transgender community with us.  As both of you said, if we all present ourselves with some sort of grace and behavior, which does provide us all with more LGBT privilege. 

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