Peeing standing up, passing, and more!

By , May 17, 2009 8:12 pm

Some random thoughts for this beautiful Sunday evening…

First, I was at the beach today for a friend’s picnic birthday party and, when nature called, went to the disgusting port-a-pottys.  The Surgery has been occupying my mind lately but, all sorts of deep and philosophical body-image and personhood discussion aside, peeing standing up rocks. Those port-a-pottys were absolutely inhuman in their filth and I could barely manage to stand in them for the thirty seconds it took to pee. Had I needed to sit down, I would have held it (like the cis girl who did try to use ’em and instantly gave up upon opening the door).

Second, I had another round of laser on my legs this weekend (and need to go back because they only booked me for an hour when I said it would take an hour and a half…grrrrr…).  The woman performing the laser, who I’ve known since I started going to this place four or five years ago, is really nice and we were chatting about this and that. She obviously knows I’m trans, since I’ve been going there since before I started transitioning, and has been really sweet about it. Well, yesterday she also had someone in training in the room, and we were all chatting. One of the two women was complimenting me on my skin, and I said something about how estrogen helps it. The woman-in-training said, “Oh, are you on birth control?” Score one for passing! (I said, very simply, “No, I’m trans and am on lots of hormones,” and she responded, “Oh, ok.”)

On passing, there was a post about the subject over at the blog Xoros, titled Passing By. It’s pretty brief, but worth a read. From the post:

So what is it about the attempt to pass that is so attractive? Quite simply it’s the lure of just being a face in the crowd. Not being obviously trans, not being someone people stare at and get confused by. Not being visible. It’s something that hetero cis people take completely for granted all the time. It is their judgement that passing appeals to, their approval that yes, you look “normal” that is being sought. It’s also the desire to be accorded the courtesy of being addressed as the gender you are, like they are.

Any thoughts from the peanut gallery?


3 Responses to “Peeing standing up, passing, and more!”

  1. Renee says:

    I have to say I really hate the word “passing” cause it smacks of being deceptive. To me a trans woman is a woman period and a trans man is a man. I think my issue with the word comes from African Canadian roots. I really just wish there was another term that made it more clear that we should accept the person by their stated gender without question.

  2. Mattie says:

    I completely agree, Renee, that the issue of acceptance should be divorced from “passing” as well as the point you make about men and women being men and women (or genderqueer individuals for that matter) regardless of how they choose to express that and regardless of physical chracteristics. Most cis people do unfortunately see “passing” as a prerequisite for uncomplicated gender acceptance and it ought not be so. It ought not be that conforming to someone elses’s standards of gendered appearance and behaviour determines whether one is treated with respect.
    I do think “passing” in the sense of blending without being noticed is a useful term, if that specifically is what one wishes to discuss. I don’t think it is neccesarily deceptive in itself but we get caught in the double bind of society both pressuring us to be invisible and then crying foul when we are.
    If one chooses to look and act a certain way and that is an honest reflection of yourself, but that just happens to also be seen as valid by the dominant group, can that really be called deceptive?
    I do also feel that if some one wishes to blend in, to “pass” as a way of avoiding trouble, of living a quiet life, than that is their choice and a valid one. Not everyone is able to be on the barricades 🙂

    I strongly feel that judging the validity of gender on gender performance and appearance is wrong, that the focus should, as you point out, be on acceptance without question. Both of gender and of the way an individual chooses to express that.

    I think “passing” is too often a way of society putting the responsibility for them accepting us onto us, instead of taking the bull by the horns and just getting down to accepting people who they perceive as different to them.

    (ps being able to pee standing up does totally have it’s moments!)

  3. trillian says:

    Thanks for the comments, all!

    I agree with both of you that passing is problematic because of the inherent judgment it implies (and that its counter would be ‘failing’). Renee, your post reminds me of Cedar’s post Put the Goddamn Space in: “transwoman” “transfeminism” “transmasculine” etc (language politics #1) as part of the importance of not reducing trans men and women to purely the ‘trans’ part.

    However, I also agree with Mattie that passing (or a better term to replace it) is a useful concept. For example, it did feel good when the woman I mentioned asked if I was on birth control, because she wasn’t reading me as “really” being a trans woman. I don’t think it has to be a political statement if I don’t correct someone who assumes i’m cis. (Although, in this case, I did because I was in the room with someone to whom I was out and doing laser removal on my legs requires being in undies in the first place.)


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