The Weight of Passing - Finding New Lightness as a Transwoman
Passing is an important part of transitioning for trans people across the world. But what exactly does it mean? In simple terms, when a trans woman is clocked as a cis woman or a trans man is clocked as a cis man, they are passing.
But why is passing so important?
Many people explain that passing is a way to not be seen or get unnecessary attention.
This often happens if you are a trans person who does not pass- people would approach you with unwarranted questions and advice, and sometimes you become the subject of discrimination and hate merely because of your identity.
Therefore, if you want to protect yourself or remain shielded from all of this, passing is often the only option.
In addition, it can also act as social validation. You want people to acknowledge you as a woman once you are done transitioning. Being misgendered can be painful. You may feel like society does not understand you and your authentic self remains masked from the real world.
Gender is an important part of all our identities. As such, when your gender is consistently misconstrued, you may feel uncomfortable in your own skin. It can exacerbate your gender dysphoria and lead to feelings of depression and frustration.
When you are perceived as a cis woman, society is acknowledging who you have always been. This can help alleviate some of your dysphoria and help you connect with your womanhood.
But there is another reason why trans women and men alike want to pass. They do not want to engage in elaborate discourses about their trans identity.
Many trans people want conversations to transcend their transness or even their gender identity as a whole. They just want to be perceived as a person in a social setting without the tag of “different” or “unique” attached to them.
When you are still transitioning, these conversations tend to emerge often and many trans people find it easier to clear the air about their gender identity immediately.
Especially since many people are still not educated in this area and don’t completely comprehend how gender identity and trans identity work, you might have found it easier to nip the curiosity and the conversation in the bud by addressing it right away.
Especially if you are a trans woman, you may have observed many people eyeing you and trying to figure you out in the initial stages. You may have addressed the elephant in the room to avoid those stares and glares.
But once you begin to pass, you are truly done talking about it. You no longer want to or have to talk about your trans identity.
People will immediately label you a woman and as a result, you do not feel obligated to explain or talk about your gender identity.
Side note- you should never feel any obligation to talk about things that you don’t want to discuss. Have a polite response ready and use it if anyone prods.
If you are still transitioning, it is important to have realistic expectations- not everyone can pass.
However, working on how you speak, walk, and move can get you closer to your passing goals. Until you pass, be ready to dodge questions about your trans identity. Unfortunately, it is a glaring part of who you are and many people do not understand boundaries even in the 21st century.
Once you pass, it definitely brings forth the advantage of not having to engage in such tedious and invasive conversations.
For a few people, passing in certain contexts can help them avoid constant engagement with their identity, while for others, passing becomes more important due to the social settings that they partake in.
We hope this article helped you better understand the implications of passing.
Found this article useful? Find more like it on our MTF Transition Hub