Passing & Gender Conformity
Being indistinguishable from a cisgender person of the same gender.
Not everyone cares about passing.
Not everyone has a binary gender. Or a gender.
Not everyone has access to time & money to pass.
In our society, passing is a barrier to entry
To get medical care,
To use washrooms,
To be date-worthy,
To change documents,
To have pronouns respected,
To be respected.
Bodies that don't look cis, that don't pass, are devalued
To the detriment of all other expression
That's what we'll discuss in this workshop
- I don't pass
Colonial conception of gender
This workshop is taking place on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin, Huron-Wendat, and Anishinabek territory
Who heard of proving you were
What context did you hear it in?
You hear that a lot with assessments
binary gender identity
playing up femininity for transfeminine folk
playing up masculinity for transmasculine folk
You "want to pass"
or you don't get medical care
It's not just about the limited imagination of the person you're seeing
"...patients engage in 12 months living in a gender role that is congruent with their gender identity..."
The guidelines dictate that medical care becomes predicated on how well you fit into gender roles
Trans people aren't accorded flexibility for gender expression
Medical profession enforces gender conformity
Government also enforces gender conformity
Identity Screening Regulations
5.2 (1) An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if
(c) the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents;
GOVERNMENT IMPOSED GENITAL CONFIGURATIONS REQUIRED TO UPDATE DOCUMENTS
Gender marker on Canadian passport
Birth certificate in Saskatchewan
Birth certificate in N.W.T.
Birth certificate in the Yukon
Birth certificate in P.E.I.
Correctional Service Canada Guidelines
Pre-operative male to female offenders with gender dysphoria will be held in men's institutions and pre-operative female to male offenders with gender dysphoria will be held in women's institutions.
According to government
cis bodies > trans bodies
Having to go through a social worker or medical professional to prove you're trans enough in Ontario to change ID is not much better
When you need to conform to change ID,
SCHOOLS AND WORKPLACES
also become a part of the story
Often having the wrong gender or name on ID means having that carried over to the school and/or workplace
So now you're getting that pressure from these institutions in addition to the government to care about passing
Schools & workplace enforce gender conformity
These policies & laws are written by cis people
Cis people uphold their bodies as the ideal
We need representation
BILL BURR: Transgender athletes? I don’t fucking understand that, y’know?
BILL BURR: You have your dick cut off, you put on a sports bra, and now you’re the number one tennis player in the world. Just coming out there with your man-shoulders!
Bill Burr: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way (2014)
RAJ: And, judging by her lack of adam’s apple, she’s been female her entire life.
Big Bang Theory (2014)
LARRY WILMORE: So, at this point, we as Americans are about as unclear about the current state of our role in the middle east, as I am about the current state of Bruce Jenner’s penis.
The Nightly Show (2015)
Very few words devoted to trans people
mocking trans women
Those few words are devoted to
Reducing women to body parts and how those parts conform to gender norms
You have to pass
or no one will date you
and it's okay to ostracize you
No acceptance for
non-passing trans people, feminine genderqueer transmasculine people, women rocking beards
have in common?
What do these
Trans women played by cisgender men
Trans men played by cisgender women
No trans people playing trans roles
Gaby Dellal (Director, "About Ray"):
The part is a girl and she is a girl who is presenting in a very ineffectual way as a boy.
Jean-Marc Vallée (Director, "Dallas Buyer's Club"):
[Would you cast a trans actor?] Never. Are there even trans actors? I’m not aiming for the real thing....
Tom Hooper (Director, "Danish Girl"):
In our film, Lili is presented as a man for two-thirds of the movie, and her transition happens quite late on, so that played a part in coming to a decision.
When trans actors aren't considered for trans roles, the interest is not about depicting trans people authentically
It's about depicting trans people as body parts that don't conform to gender norms
It's a conscious decision that embeds the message that we are defined by how we (don't) pass
That value system is unconsciously fed to us when we consume these movies
The most celebrated possibility models pass and are conventionally beautiful
If all we ever celebrate are passing trans people, then passing gets internalized as an expectation
We need more possibility models!
What are some micro-aggressions you've experienced?
Much of it is derived from not meeting gender norms
If you pass, many of these micro-aggressions cease
Authentic expression is suppressed
They both pass
The message is that they don't belong in those washrooms
That their appearance makes that self-evident
They contrast bodies to make the point
A person who looks like him who wants to use this washroom belongs in this washroom
What separates these two?
He has a beard
These campaigns enforce gender conformity
And further marginalize those who do not pass
When our own activists suggest we don't belong because we don't pass, where does that leave us?
Human Rights Campaigning
Trans activists will remove "gender expression" protections as a concession
The same way that gay activists would routinely drop trans protections
Under this regime, binary trans people retain protections
But everyone else gets thrown under the bus
The message from activists is if you want legal protection, conform to the binary
“It is not gender identity that elicits violence but rather the way that gender identity is expressed..."
- Amanda Ryan (Gender Mosaic)
No proactive removal of gender expression
Don't even offer removing gender expression as an option
There are barriers in society for those who aren't cis
There are additional barriers for those who don't pass and especially those who don't value passing
We need in our own activism to stop holding up cis bodies as the ideal for everyone
It devalues wonderful colourful expressions of gender
Our work needs to be inclusive of non-passing trans people, non-binary folk and other non-cis lives
Passing & Gender Conformity