Passing

People who don’t pass don’t want to do the work needed to pass. I read that and thought, that’s a bit harsh; but, yes.

It is a lot of work. How do you express yourself with clothes, and also fit into the fashions, when you have an unfeminine body-shape? I know that many women have unfashionable body-shapes, that there is a great deal of body-shaming and that fashions can be at one moment flattering to particular people, the next month not. It is not easy for cis women; I tend to feel it is more difficult for us.

I don’t get my voice right. I have a story for that: the speech therapist told me to practise a little bit throughout the day, and that meant breaching my male presentation. Like carrying a heavy pack: I could just about plod on, grimly, but repeatedly putting the pack down then shouldering it again was unbearable. But then, it is a long time since I transitioned, even if immediately after practise reminded me of that distress. I have practiced my voiced th, which is particularly difficult to get above the break. You start with n and m, easy enough, and go onto more difficult sounds.

This That the Other.
This That the Other.
This That the Other.
This That the Other,

I say, listening to the sound. Then other words with that ð sound. Father. Brother. Thus. Lathe. It is a “voiced dental fricative”. Blogging gets me doing the work, I have broken off to google the sound.

ð and Ð

run in my mind. There is value in practice, and in other sounds, other words. Oh, I could say I like being able to speak baritone, for emphasis, or when I am tired and not thinking about it; singing, my baritone is better able to keep a note, pleasanter, and much stronger than my countertenor/falsetto;

And there are mannerisms, responses and habits- women are less likely to drink pints, or single malts-

It is a great deal of work. Do you have the motivation? Is not-passing bearable? Does it fulfil some need for attention? Right now I don’t pass. I see that passing might have some advantages, in encounters with people uncomfortable with trans folk- certainly in job interviews-

Not just motivation but belief in its possibility. Is it that every marker I shave off makes it longer before people read me, or do I just have so many markers that however much work I do I will never make it? There are markers no work will alter: I am tall for a woman, though not shockingly so… my face does not look that unfeminine, surely? Not to me, not when I am feeling confident… There may be markers I am not aware of, unknown unknowns…

Why is my life so hard? It ought not to be this hard (sense of entitlement)…

For whatever reason, fourteen years on, I have not done the work. Is it worth it? There is another view: trans women suffer gender dysphoria, and the work required to pass is the work required to minimise those male characteristics which make them dysphoric.

thomas-lawrence-caroline-fry

9 thoughts on “Passing

  1. I think that no one should be a slave to the expectations of how others think one “should” look, appear, or present themselves. I’ve always put minimal effort into my appearance, and I can tell that I sometimes am judged for it–but that 30-60 minutes of each morning it would take to leave the house beautifully made up and with well-styled hair (which, since mine is curly, would be back to unruly in less than an hour) is a chunk of my life that I’m not willing to give up. I have better things to do, and if anyone else chooses to waste their time worrying over how I look, that’s their choice!

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      • I had to look up the word “faff,” but I agree with your point–there is a payoff for looking your best. In addition to the confidence boost, I think others treat me better when I put effort into my appearance… but I find it exhausting to care about how I look beyond the basics of having clean clothes that match. The more effort I put in, the more self-conscious I am about any sort of attention–positive or negative. I feel like if I don’t try, I don’t have to care about the results. Maybe that’s just my own weirdness, though…

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        • British words are great, though I have heard Americans talk of “whinging”. Learn with Clare: I used the word “holophrastic” recently!

          Attractive wealthy people get an advantage, but we can all climb the greasy pole by “looking our best”- the more effort you put in, the greater benefit you get out. Life is unfair. The alternative is exuding an air of self-confidence, but when my attempts at that get too desperate I may come across as aggressive instead…

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  2. Looking your best can give you confidence, but if you are going to take the effort then it should be for you, not other people.

    When I first started doing my makeup it took me an hour or more, but when I transitioned I just didnt have that time available daily so had to work on what I did and how I did it to get it down to 10 minutes. Is it always perfect, no, bit it’s doable. And I do it because it makes me happier!

    As for mannerisms, be careful you are not using unconscious bias to project stereotypes to all women. Yes, some women drink pints, single malts etc. They like cars, bikes and racing. And some men hate them. I was having a conversation about classic Triumph cars with a cis woman at lunch in the office (and F1 and MotoGP), the guys at the table had no idea what we were talking about. Be yourself, it’s who you are 🙂

    Stace

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    • Welcome, Stace, it is lovely to have you here. Thank you for commenting.

      I do not make up for a duvet day alone. Appearance is at least in part about the effect it will have on others; and I think a sign of how good I feel about myself, rather than a cause of it. You make a good point about projecting stereotypes. Yes. And fewer women than men drink ale and malts.

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      • Thanks!

        True, if I’m spending the day alone then I don’t get made up. If I expect to even go to the shops then I (normally) do. Unless I’m feeling a little under the weather, then I generally don’t care much – I just want to get out and get back! I have no confidence on those days anyway, so it wouldn’t help 🙂 So yes, I suppose I do do it for others as well…

        I find less women drink lager (including myself unless it’s a really hot day!), but I know many who drink the specialty beers (triples, weisheffer etc). Less, but only like there is less water in a swimming pool than an Olympic pool. Malts… In my social group I know more women who drink malts than men (that’s probably lager again). Though in the uk that would probably be different!

        Stace

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  3. Clare isn’t much of this about confidence anyway? I remember once following a woman that I was certain was a very passable but not perfectly undetectable trans person. It turned out she was a woman and carried herself as such. Many genetic women look like they could be trans people due to voice, height, etc. Passing should be read comfort in one’s own skin….

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