Stop Forcing Each Other to Pass!

Bailey C.

If you’re a transman and hit the gym daily and wears masculine clothing, that’s fine. If you’re a transwoman that wears dresses and has a collection of makeup products, that’s fine too. But what if those concepts were switched? What if the transman does his makeup and the transwoman wears the basketball shorts? Hell, let’s take it up another level- what if the transman doesn’t want to go on T? What if he wears his hair long and doesn’t bind? What if the transwoman doesn’t want to have bottom surgery? What if she’s fine with how deep her voice is and isn’t rushing to get Facial Feminization Surgery?

In an article I wrote about a year ago, I talked about how some transgender and non-binary people are forced to take transition steps they do not want to take. Be it as simple as their clothing, their hair, or their name, to things like hormones and surgeries, there is a pressure for trans people to “pass." It happens all too often- someone who’s transitioning steps out of the “usual” routine of transition, and all hell seems to break loose. However, the hottest flames of fury seem to come from within the community. This is something the transgender community doesn’t talk much about, even though it's right in front of us- we are forcing each other to pass.


It’s everywhere. From YouTube videos to Reddit forums, such as r/transpassing (which is a forum where transgender and non-binary people post their pictures and ask about “how well they pass), a focus of the transgender community is passing. When someone comes out, sometimes passing isn’t an option, largely due to being unable to do so without surgeries and hormones. Some are fine with not always passing and don’t need to undergo numerous medical transitioning steps, if any. Some don’t want to change how they dress, or maybe their personalities can be different from what would normally be associated with that identity. But whatever the reason people aren’t passing, we should not be demanding that we all take the needed steps to pass as the typical ideas of binary genders.

​One example of pressuring people to pass that I’ve seen time and again is in the case of singer-songwriter, Ryan Cassata. On his YouTube channel, a topic that he discusses every so often is the fact that he doesn’t want to go on testosterone. No matter how often he lists his reasons for not wanting to start T, there are still people who post comments about how he’s not on T and should go on it. Why should he, or anyone else, need to make drastic and permanent changes to their body if they don’t want to?

Even more neglected to be talked about is how non-binary people are often pressured to pass as one or the other binary gender. Meanwhile, identifying as non-binary means you identify outside of the idea of “man” or “woman”- aka the binary genders. If someone not passing as one or the other is a better reflection of whom they are, then that’s their business.


My main question is, why do we feel the need to tell others how to dress or act? I have yet to hear a good response to that question. Usually when someone tries to defend policing someone’s gender presentation, I hear things like, “We need to be taken seriously," or “It makes us seem more normal,” or “It shows we’re like everybody else.” One, you certainly achieve being like everybody else when you demand people live their lives a certain way. Two, by attacking others of the community, and hiding or even ostracizing those who don’t conform to the majority, how does that make us look like a strong community that should be taken seriously? Three, do you love it when someone uses the word “normal” in regards to why trans people shouldn’t be out or allowed to transition? No. It forces you to hide who you are. Well that’s what you do to someone when you try to force them to take certain transition steps or change how they dress or act.

Remember- your life is your own and you have no business telling others how to live. In a world that already tries to make us hide who we are, we should be more focused toward helping each other live their true lives, and not putting up more boundaries and limits in the process.

Comments (5)
No. 1-4

I spent most of my life trying to live up to societies expectations of who I should be. I did not come out of the closet only to have another group tell me how to act and look. Would I change a few things if I could? Sure. But I can not and likely will never be able to. So I'll do the best I can with what I have . To do otherwise is to let dysphoria control my life. And with dysphoria come depression. I have been there, done that. And I will never do it again.


You talked about Ryan Cassata, so I'll pick on him and his speech in the YouTube video “Transition Radio TV #11 -- Ryan Cassata LGBT Podcast”, he said what needs to be said in the beginning of his speech, it's great. It’s what I love about his/your generation you/they do your own thing unapologetically and you learn from it. When it comes to transition that means different things to different people, we all transition in a way that is right for us and at our own speed, I do suspect in time Ryan will want t given he appears to have had top surgery, however t is for him to figure out, but passing has privileges, without t he’ll never pass as he ages, saying that it is not forcing him or pushing him to pass or take t it is simply an observation, because for many of us passing is an important part of transition while not necessarily the whole of transition, for the older generation passing was a necessity there was even a name for it deep stealth which is no longer technically possible (which is a whole other story), you’re going to find a lot of us with beliefs about passing still within the community, your ability to be out and open comes from those generations, that fought for the civil rights and acceptance that we have today.

Your article pulls me this way, then that way, sometimes I’m with you and other times I'm hating you, I think that’s because I’ve transitioned and pass, I didn’t in the begging but that’s ok too, transitionING is a moving target that takes time, I think what’s missing in your article is that transgender is an umbrella term containing MANY different communities all trans but with distinct differences, I think sometimes within the transgender community the different groups need to respect such boundaries, on the other hand to say what I did, "without t he’ll never pass as he age’s", I belive is within boundaries as it is simply an observation meant to be constructive, It's only crossing the line if I am abusively speaking my opinion.


How much of this is a transgender-specific issue, and how much of it is just good ol' tribal groupthink, tailored to this particular group? I've been aware of the external pressure to fit in my entire life. I don't know if it's cultural or just in the genetic makeup of human beings, but the herd mentality is stronger in most folks than the drive for individual choice.
That being said, I'm glad you're lending your voice to the latter.


I blame WPATH for a lot of this, my opinion.

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