What I’ve Noticed About Gender
For trans people, ‘passing’ is a privilege that not everyone
is afforded. If someone doesn’t pass as the gender they identify as, they can
be faced with discrimination, denial of services, harassment, and assault.
I came out as trans this past summer, and am currently in an
interesting stage of my transition where I usually am able to pass as a man,
but there are still very occasional instances where I don’t.
When I pass as a man, people are surprised when I tell them
that I work as a nanny, and some even say, “No, but what do you really do?” I originally was taken aback
by this shocked reaction, as this was just considered typical when I was
presenting as female. Now, I am sadly starting to expect disbelief and even
resistance from these statements. However, familiarity of this sort can lead to
de-sensitivity and in turn, being less willing to act, which terrifies me.
However, the most significant thing I’ve observed about
gender since I’ve come out is the toxicity of misogyny. I have noticed that people are
kinder and more respectful when I pass as male, versus when I don’t
pass as well, or when I was presenting more feminine before I came out. People
greet me openly and seem more willing to listen to what I have to say. In
contrast, the more friendly receptions I received while still presenting as
female consisted of older men calling me ‘sweetheart,’ ‘dear,’ or ‘honey.’
I obviously knew that misogyny was extremely prevalent and
harmful before I came out, being directly affected by it when I was viewed by
others as a girl. However, experiencing the profound differences in the way I’m
treated firsthand is almost beyond belief, and I am beyond disgusted and
shocked by how extensive it truly is.
Trans men and those trans enby people who present as more
masculine have a unique perspective on gender and misogyny. Many of us have
experienced gender-based discrimination in relation to femininity before coming
out, but now have a certain level of male privilege that comes with passing.
Therefore, it is so important that us transmasc folx use our newfound male privilege to speak up for those who aren’t given the same platform, listen and integrate the perspectives of all women, and call out chauvinistic attitudes to dismantle the patriarchy and ideals of toxic masculinity for everyone.
Written by James Seiben, a Youth Okanagan contributor for Kelowna.LGBT