My Thoughts on Passing

Since my son, Kris, came out to me as transgender, in the past 3+ years, the word ‘passing’ has come and gone in our vocabularies. The word never set well with me and when we used it that first year (Kris included), it was difficult for people to grasp.

Using the word ‘passing’ in reference to a person who is trying to be recognized as the gender they truly are gives the misconception that the person is not ‘really’ that gender. It invalidates them.

In that first year, as Kris was taking steps towards transition, he spent a few months moving back and forth between presenting himself as female and male and sometimes adopting a more ambiguous appearance. In those early days, he was very self-conscious- not of the male attire… but of all his female attributes. He felt his face was too soft and feminine, his body too curvy with breasts and hips and his voice too high-pitched. Although he was 100% sure that he was male, outwardly he was very aware of these parts that shouted GIRL to him. He had spent over 18 years living as a girl and even though that was completely at odds with everything he felt inside, it was also the only way he knew how to be.

When he was dressed in male clothing in the beginning, he was very concerned with passing. It was an obsession that while I thought I understood, it would be a year or two before I would really ‘get it’. The truth is that at that time- he was trying to pass as male, even though he knew that inside he was male. He was still living with so much of Kerri inside himself too, that he wasn’t quite sure who Kris was. I think he had to go through that very unsettling time of wearing those boy clothes and putting himself out there as Kris while he was still being Kerri more than he wanted to admit. And he had to PASS as Kris. cropYou might think I’m insane (and who’s to say that I’m not!) but when I look at Kris, I don’t see Kerri. Not anymore. At times they feel like two very distinct individuals who share a few common traits and a history. Like twins. So much of Kris was always there all along inside Kerri. But some things faded away and others appeared.

Kris was nervous about venturing out into the world as his true self. But he was excited, too. He changed his name and he began changing his outward appearance before he knew what was Kerri and what was Kris, and I think he was passing in those early days. He wasn’t really himself yet.

It was only as time went by and he was clearly recognized as a guy that the word ‘passing’ fell from our vocabulary. As Kris gained confidence in being himself and showing the world who he was, more and more of the Kris that I know and love today emerged. Kris is not ‘passing’ . He IS.

I’ve shared an article below that I feel does an excellent job of explaining why there are issues with the word ‘passing’. I know that this article is making the rounds in other blog posts and on Facebook but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s definitely worth the read.

Op-ed: I’m a Trans Man Who Doesn’t ‘Pass’ — And You Shouldn’t Either

More Than Just Passing- It’s Being

There seems to be a recurring theme in posts that I’ve been reading. This topic is near to my heart because it is something that my transgender child lives, as do all others. It’s about being seen as who you are. Now, I know that people see what they want to see. I also know that there is more to most people than meets the eye. There are SO many different directions this could go- relating to every day life as well as being transgender. For the purpose of this post, I’m focusing on a perspective that is often overlooked- that of what it means to be born transgender and live your life not being seen for who you know you are. In my son’s case, that means being born in a female body and living 18 years as a girl. In my friend, Charissa, it’s the opposite but then add on many more years living in that body and straddling two worlds while attempting to make it all work. At the beginning of transition, my son wanted to pass. It was so important to him and I completely understand why. It caused him anxiety if he didn’t feel that he looked male enough. It caused heartache when he was identified as female.

When he was finally passing on a regular basis, even if he didn’t realize it, I knew that it was vital for him to be seen as male. Not pass but BE. It’s hard to put into words but it’s something that I’ve noticed in the past year. As he comes to be more comfortable, he IS Kris- not that person who used to be Kerri passing as Kris. Does that make any sense?

I don’t know how to reblog 2 posts that I wanted to include in this post so I’m sharing the links instead. The first is a post written by my friend, Charissa. She talks about being seen. I could hear my son’s voice in her words. Can You See Me?

The next post is from Call Him Hunter. She is the mom of Hunter, 15 years old and ftm. Her post talks about being misgendered once as a child. Living Your Gender

I was born with girl parts and I’m a girl. I hate cooking. I’m not very ladylike. I like purple and pink as well as blue and orange. I love jeans and hoodies some days and dresses others. I have always wanted to be a mom. I like pretty things. Some of these things are very girly. Some are not. All of these things fit easily and naturally. It’s important to remember that everyone isn’t made that way. They don’t fit into the neat little packages we have all been raised to expect to see. They deserve to have their packages look the way they feel most comfortable and it’s important that we remember that.