Passing is not a dirty word

I thought I’d start by addressing why I focus on passing, as I know it’s become a heavily politicised word in the trans community, particularly that part of the community that is centered around some often very needed activism. Many trans activists in the community say that passing is in some way caving to ‘cis standards’, or ‘cisnormative’, and that aiming to pass is somehow ‘selling out’ the community, even letting down fellow trans people who cannot or do not want to pass.

I don’t think that’s a fair standard, because it means you’re not seen as an individual with your own wants and needs. I understand that for many women, passing is something you really want and need; this doesn’t mean you’re letting anyone else down by aiming to pass.

Passing, as I understand it, regardless of the political context, is just about making sure your presentation attracts the effect you want from society, that is – to pass is to make sure you present in a way that the average person on the street sees you how you want to be seen, without thinking, so it becomes entirely natural.

In transitioning, after all, you’re moving towards passing – to treat your gender dysphoria, you’re amending the signs of your birth gender and gaining the signs of the gender you feel. This is a move towards passing, part of which – I will make the assumption – is that you don’t only want to see these signs yourself, you need other people to see them. This is how gender works – signs, signifiers, and very few hard rules, which means we make a generally accurate assumption for people we deal with every day. I want to help you create the right signs so that other people make the right assumption about you. There are people doing gender their own way, very un-traditionally: that’s up to them. But if you want society to see you correctly, which will remove the tension and distress caused by dysphoria, I am here to help.

It’s compassionate (and I think, just good manners) to see someone’s trans status and make the effort to address them how they want to be addressed. But passing is when they don’t even have to think about it. You’re just you, you’re not someone’s trans friend, which means you can get on with being whoever you want to be.

I’m here to help smooth your way towards that stage, making sure that the rest of the world sees you as who you authentically are, leaving you free to be yourself.

If you think I might be able to help you achieve your transition goals, please contact me to set up an initial consultation.

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