A walk, giving up male privilege, and passing…

Yesterday was quite a big step for me in terms progress I guess and also a bit of a startling revelation in terms of giving up male privilege and  passing.

So let’s start with the walk or rather getting ready for the walk, in general I’ve either gone out with makeup on or in “boy” mode.  I get random bouts of courage and end up stepping out of my comfort zone, generally speaking I love this about myself as it usually leads to good things.  This case was no different, in the picture below you can see my outfit, also a picture of what ended up being my 1 hour walk turned 2:20 walk… Okay I got carried away but can you really blame me? I was out walking, without makeup (sweat + makeup is not really a good mix) and not in “boy” mode. I was walking as me, in what I felt comfortable wearing.  Oh and the last picture is me toward the end of the nearly 8 mile walk.

A photo posted by Liz (@quietliz) on

I was into the second mile and walking with the flow of traffic when I got catcalled… “Hey baby, why don’t you ride with us” came out of a car as it whizzed by. Generally I don’t think people are talking to me and as such would have ignored the catcall as it must have been meant for someone else but I was the only one on the sidewalk at the time. At first I was flattered, “yes, I’m passing” and “someone things I’m good looking from behind anyway” popped into my head and it was definitely quite exciting.  However that quickly turned to terror as I began panicking at the thought of the car slowing down after it got past me, what would I do if they stopped.  In the time span of maybe 2 seconds I went from excited to terrified all from one phrase…

I processed the situation as I continued my walk and began to realize what it meant when others had said I’d be giving up male privilege, it wasn’t any of the things I had thought about. I’m giving up the ability to feel safe, the ability to walk around and know that I’m less likely to have anything happen to me… It went beyond that as it wasn’t just the terror of someone doing something to me because I’m a woman, it was the thought of “fuck if I don’t pass I’m in even more danger”.

That’s when it kicked in, that remember everything it takes to pass feeling.  Walk with your feet in a soft fluid manner, don’t lead with your shoulders, suck your gut in, arch your back, move out of the way when approaching others, smile… smile, for fucks sake smile… How do I smile I’m now one of the foxes, no longer one of the wolves?

Not that passing is a new concept, it’s always been a part of life so to speak.  I have tattoos, I’ve never been told to hide them at any of my jobs but when I’m at work I have hidden them to pass as more professional.  When presenting as male I had to try and hide my emotions (which I suck at) because emotions are a sign of weakness and men aren’t weak. Everyone has to pass in some way… That said I’ve never really felt like passing was a life or death kind of thing…

During my walk I passed by 4 people, 3 of them were what I perceived to be men, one was what I perceived to be an older woman.  In the past this wouldn’t have meant anything but walking by the 3 men every single time I couldn’t help but worry about them doing something to me.  I know, I know “Not All Men” thing but fuck how am I supposed to know which ones are the bad ones and which ones are the good ones?  I want to believe all people are good until proven otherwise but I just couldn’t get to that place when I was walking by them.  Even the older woman wasn’t a person to free me of this paranoia as I wondered if she’d shout a slur at me of some kind because I didn’t pass well enough…

This is what I signed up for… Don’t get me wrong I wish this wasn’t what I signed up for in a sense but at this point in time the reality is this is what it means to not only be a woman but to be a trans woman. It’s funny as I wrote this post the question of “Is this what you really want?” kept running through my head and the answer never changed… I’ll take fearing people on a regular basis until I get back into my “happy place” for as long as it takes and even the rest of my life if that’s what it takes.

That fear is nothing compared to the freedom I felt being myself.

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