For without an intersectional approach- we have gained nothing.*
Firstly, I want to acknowledge that in a world that continually disenfranchises and marginalizes people based on perceived differences, I am so very aware of the privilege I hold for passing. This post is about the pain of having my identities hidden- but in no way is to play oppression olympics. I have white privilege. I have privilege from passing in other identities. Period.
The concept of “passing” is so isolating for me…. I pass for a lot of things…. I pass as able-bodied, I pass as straight, I pass as cis, I pass as something other than asexual, I pass as something other than transracial, I pass as someone who has no history of marginalized status’s of addiction, sex work, homelessness, abuse, poverty, or lack of basic education….
However, I am not cis. I am not straight. I am not able-bodied. I am poor, I am transracial, and until going to university- I only had a solid grade 6 education. I do have a history of sex work, homelessness, addiction, and abuse. By passing, I know people think I may have an easier go at things- and in so many ways this is true.
In terms of seeking medical help- my passing for certain identities allows me to get support where others are marginalized. By passing in some ways I can flow through things that are limited to others- from as simple as going in and out of a store without conflict.
There is one huge issue with passing tho. My identity becomes invisible. Who I am, my struggles, my pain- becomes invisible.
Everytime I pass for something I am not- I feel shame for the something that I am.
Everytime I am shopping and someone talks to me and I get to a point in the convo where I have to decide between lying or outting something about myself, because language doesn’t allow me to be vague (like with use of pronouns)…
Everytime I pass for something I am not- a piece of me dies.
I find that I have to constantly explain myself. I have to explain away my identity and functioning because I don’t “appear sick” or because I am a someone assigned female who passes as woman- I have to then explain why I am something than what someone else assumed me to be- as if it is my fault they assumed anything about my identity in the first place.
Fuck passing. Passing sucks. The fact that people pass just means that their actions, looks, or otherwise- don’t challenge the ideas society has about identities…. It isn’t a personal failing. It doesn’t mean anything other than others opinions and expectations are incorrect because they are based on a fucked up notion of what any one identity looks like.
I feel deeply for people who don’t pass- not because they stand out, but because they are the ones to brave the way for the rest of us. They have to wear their identities, always…. Even when the consequences are tremendous….
Passing creates a vulnerable and isolating place to live in, where I am constantly wondering if I should do something to not pass- as if that would validate my existence more. It wont. But I don’t choose to pass…. I am just me. The way I exist in this world has nothing to do with trying to pass.