Does “Passing” as A Woman Create Acceptance?

Does “Passing” as A Woman Create Acceptance?

As the transgender movement gains momentum and more transgender women are out in public being who they are, there is still a prejudice for those that don’t “pass” as a woman. This applies to both the transgender woman who identifies as the female gender and for the cross-dressers who are out as their femme self.

One day last week, I treated my transgender friend  to lunch at my favorite restaurant in Chicago, where I have been dining for many years. I always go there to talk business because I typically don’t run into people I know and can talk in private without being interrupted. The manager knows me well and always seats me at a table by the window and gives me a complimentary order of egg rolls.

My transgender friend is an attractive brunette, who has just lost 65 pounds over the past year and is happy to be able to wear stylish clothing. She dresses conservatively often wearing a lace camisole top, black tights and suit jacket. She looks like any other business woman on the street, with long brown hair and thick bangs. While at lunch, I ran into a socialite acquaintance who was celebrating her birthday. She didn’t notice, nor did the manager that my friend was a transgender woman. She easily “passed” for a woman and was readily accepted.

The next day, I met with my cross-dresser friend, who is tall with large shoulders, a thinning hairline with a blondish-gray chin length bob. He wore a dress with a jacket and flats, looking a bit more matronly than my transgender friend. This time everyone seemed a bit nervous at the restaurant. The waiter purposely called us, “ladies” in a way to please us. The manager appeared uncomfortable when he saw my friend up close, walking toward the woman’s bathroom.

My cross-dressing friend, who was married for many years and divorced a year, just didn’t “pass.” My friend is a straight male, who dates woman, has two children, a new baby grandchild and is a lawyer.  His femme identity is part of who he is and says his male and femme identities really are one person. Yet, he/she stood out as being a “man in a dress”, which is still difficult for those who do not understand the transgender and cross-dressing communities.

With all the “love” and empathy toward the transgender community these days for many who are empathic with gender identity issues, I still wonder if the reason many accept some of the transgender young adults and children is because they “look” like the gender they identify with. Somehow, it makes it easier for our society to accept them.

But, what about the many transgender women who believe they are women and the cross-dressers who strive to be “woman-like” who are not feminine enough looking and clearly don’t pass? They are the ones who are struggling to be accepted. We still have a long way to go in truly understanding what these communities represent.

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