On “Passing” As A Woman

in Dana Taylor

Right up front I will tell you that I cringe when I hear passing as a woman in relation to a trans woman. What this really means is passing as a cisgender woman. A real woman, right?

We see this all of the time in trans* related support forums where trans* women give advice to other trans* women on how to look like a woman. It is all based on the oppressive sex stereotype of what a woman is supposed to look like.  This is what makes the patriarchy happy. They want all women to meet certain stereotypical criteria which includes how you look, smell, walk, talk, etc.  We should never tell our sisters that they must meet this criteria to be a woman.

Even though you may think you are trying to help this person you may actually be causing damage to them. For instance, there are some trans* women who have physical male characteristics that will never allow them to meet the passing criteria.  I am one of those women. If I had listened to a lot of advice from trans* women on being a woman, I am not sure where I would be today. It is difficult enough to come out and try to be who you are than to have all these other requirements put on you. This can cause some trans* women who are not out yet to never come out thinking there is no way they could pass. And we all know what that could lead to. We are painfully aware of the attempted suicide statistics in our community.

A woman is a woman who makes her own choices on how she wants to look, dress, smell or anything else that has to do with her own body. If she wants to follow the stereotypical concept of being a woman, she should be free to do so.

What we need to do is this. With the help of our allies, educate the public on what being trans* means and to make transphobia and transmisogyny as unacceptable as being racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. We need serious help from feminists and womanist groups to make this happen. One group of feminists have done just that and I must share this.  Feminists Fighting Transphobia has written an article about feminism being trans*-inclusive. This was in response to the comical The TERF Empire Declares War Against Trans People where an organization that doesn’t really exist wrote a letter telling trans* women how icky they are and had a small number of supposed feminists and academics sign it.  The Feminists Fighting Transphobia article has received close to 700 signatures and is still growing. They can barely keep up with the new signatures.

We need our cis allies to call out transphobia and transmisogyny when they see it, contact media outlets for the same and also to listen to us when we are talking about our own experiences. To those allies who are doing this now, thank you. Thank you THANK YOU!

And to trans* support groups, please think before you help someone transition. Ask them how they feel about themselves and how they want to express themselves.

Also, please take a look at 30 examples of cis privilege minus the one that shames sex workers.

In closing I would like to say I am a woman and i will look and act the way I fucking want to.

Dana Taylor

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