Friday, June 5, 2009

Femme Identity and Passing...

Around LGBT Pride time every year, amidst Self Serve pride planning, building a float and attending lots of fun events, I find a time to reflect on my own identity as a queer femme who passes most of the time.

I have a transgender FTM partner who passes as male, and I'm feminine looking and people assume we're straight. I had an interesting conversation with a friend about passing. If you are not "out" to those around you, is it dishonest? Is it your responsibility to come out, educate or explain yourself to those you meet? I think most people vary day to day on this question.

We were talking about how "out" you are in your identity- whether you have a chronic illness, you're gay, you're transgender, you're a breast cancer survivor, you're HIV positive or any number of identities. There are lots of parts of yourself you can hide, and some you can't. Many a person with a visible disability knows the responsibility and, often, fatigue of coming out.

On one hand, my partner and I enjoy privilege by passing for straight, avoiding questions. On the other hand, I don't want to pass most of the time, and I want people to know I'm queer and proud. My ability to pass is often an open door. It's an opportunity to have someone assume they can relate to me as hetero, only to have their perception flipped on its head thereafter. That's a plus. Having a trans partner means often either having no questions asked of us (when we pass) or complete bombardment of every personal and inappropriate question you can think of (when we come out).

As a sexuality educator, I want to educate, share, and relate most of the time. I want my experience to be one others can learn from. On the other hand, I know the feeling of just wanting it to be easy.

I still look forward to the time when we are surrounded by accepting, loving people who know us. Where people don't require explanations of gender and transition and surgeries and genitalia. In LGBT communities and many other accepting diverse communities, we find those safe spaces where we don't have to work at it all the time. Where we can just be. In this moment in my life, I appreciate coming out, sharing those 'ah-ha' moments with a stranger who's never met a queer dyke or never heard of an FTM. But I admittedly love and need those moments where we can just love each other, be respected by others, and not have to explain ourselves.

Comfort and respect. It seems it takes just a little discomfort of some closed-minded individuals to get there. Well Happy Pride. xo -Molly

So for those that read this and of course have questions :) some resources:

1 comment:

beanbun said...

I would also like to share if anyone has any questions for the transgender support group here in Burque to please let us know! I would be happy to help you get in touch with them!