Over the last month I’ve been asked several times what I mean by the term “passing”. It’s a great question. I’ll get to it in a minute. But first, we’re going off-road for a small rant. If I read one more piece about Caitlyn Jenner or anybody else suddenly living their life as their “authentic” self, I will scream until my lungs explode outwards. It’s a nonsense. My sense of self may have changed somewhat but I was always living as myself. And generally happily. But whatever self I showed to the world, it was still me. Full stop. Or period, if you are American. It reflected my identity at the time. Authentically, ironically enough. Anyway, this was supposed to be about passing. Largely this refers to how well you are perceived in public in your desired gender. At the start I was extremely concerned about this. And unaware that the one thing holding me back was caring that much. Worrying about being “read”, i.e. acknowledged as a male, was a little crippling to be honest. And I don’t really know how I stopped. I just did. And then my environment caught up to me. Glasgow has a fearsome reputation. Some of which is entirely deserved, some of which is down to showmanship and the most useful accent in the world. But I really knew I was getting somewhere when somewhat menancing males started holding doors open for me with a cheery “Awright hen”. If you’re not Scottish that may need explanation.
hen – term of endearment for a woman, equivalent to ‘love’ or ‘darling’ (“How ye dain the day, hen?”)
In a nutshell, hearing just that word told me I was doing fine. Doesn’t mean you’re attractive, doesn’t mean you’re ugly. But it does tell you that you are accepted. For what you are. And that’s what it means to pass.