As referenced in the passing article, there is nothing worse than being outed - but it especially is of note for someone who is attempting to blend or not "appear" transgender.
"OMG You're Trans?!"
YouTube Video: Outed for Being Trans
- Sonnis Love
Let us however first tackle that statement, because it is in and of itself problematic. This is yet another creation of stigma by those outside of our community attempting to streamline appearance as a whole. This is a response of many I have spoken to and heard from in my community with this line of conversation. "OMG you're trans?! I couldn't even tell." So, what exactly are aspects that "tell" you that I'm transgender? Is there some sort of appearance conformity expectation standard that I was supposed to follow in the transgender handbook that I must've misplaced when I was born? And then how do I respond?
So if you tell me I'm beautiful (and I'm trans) - is trans supposed to be ugly? Did you expect something bad? Why does transgender have to be exclusionary from anything you'd typically expect or want in a partner/person/friend, etc.? By the way, I have pointed out in other discussions that the use of "you" is a generic variable and specific or individually targeting, so we are clear.
Being transgender is not a descriptor. It is an identity construct. Being transgender is not a social modifier or status. One does not "become" transgender. We are. Being transgender is not a choice. It is who we are and that we do not identify with the gender we were assigned at birth. This also does not have to be binary, we could also identify as non-binary or gender-fluid or anything in between. Who we believe and/or feel we are is valid.
Being transgender is not a fashion statement, a fetish, or an aspect of dress-up or anything thereof. (There are cross-dressers who may not identify as transgender who may be confused as and may even take on different pronouns to refer to themselves. This is not a discussion about cross-dressers, drag queens or kings or anything of the sort.)
The answer which I have not come across either frequently enough or at all about not being able to tell if someone is transgender lies within one simple issue: whether or not you feel comfortable having sex with the person. It requires a lot of unpacking. Since this is something I am more comfortable addressing as a transgirl, I will speak to the matter from that perspective. Looking at me. Most people, not all...but most - think immediately, cisgender female, vagina, breasts, soft features, soft skin, etc. But my genitalia are the deal breaker - always. I have written so many articles about the terror of someone bumping into my groin area -- I make concerted efforts to keep distance or closure dependent on the environment.
And while it may be that the majority of experiences for trans-women are when cisgender males pursue them and then are suddenly 'destroyed' by finding out their love interest is transgender (enter trans panic defense and murder) it's not restricted to the gay communities either. As a transbian (transgender lesbian) I discovered that until my appearance was more solidified (after about 9 months of hormones where my features had softened, I had acquired a certain comprehension in fashion and makeup) that to be even considered by a cisgender lesbian or bisexual. It was far worse within the lesbian and bi communities for me personally. I only encountered persons who were interested in hookups and well...yup, out the window.
The next series of introspective questions come then to the person interacting with one of us. If it's really not about sex and you just want friendship, something platonic or just an interaction - the challenge lies within the social consequences - for YOU. Does associating with someone who is transgender embarrass you? Would you being connected or friends with a transgender person affect your status in your family? Your job? Your social circle? Your religious beliefs and/or your church? Like my father, would it affect your existing relationships having known this transgender person prior to their transition and how those relationships would be impacted with this "new" information? If they were to use the same restroom as you, would you feel comfortable going at the same time as they are there?
Complacency is condemnation. If you do not feel comfortable in any of those scenarios, your neutrality is acceptance of our discrimination and restriction. While you don't have to be our friend, our partner or connected to us, a choice to exclude us based on any criteria like what is mentioned above is abhorrent. So when the phrase wishes to be stated -- I can't believe you're trans . . . stop. It solidifies that passing is the only way to be accepted in our society. It is the precursor to bigotry, hatred and intolerance.
I am a woman. Point. Blank. Period. Done.