I know that “passing” as a concept is problematic- it reinforces gender norms/stereotypes- but for the most part people look at others and try to fit them into their neat little boxes of male or female, so it happens all the time without conscious thought. Passing isn’t something that happens a lot to me but some days I feel more like I look male and seem to be seen as male too- probably a confidence thing. Also I think it really depends on who I’m with, I’m much more likely to be read as female if I’m with my friends.
At the gym I’m pretty sure there was a lady there once who read me as male, she went to the far end of the changing room and didn’t move from her corner until after I’d left. Another time there was someone who double checked that she was in the right changing room after seeing me. I felt bad about that, but still no inclination to use the male changing room. And on the whole, as swimming is the only time I use the changing rooms, as long as I get changed quickly there isn’t a problem.
The other day I went to the beach and got pretty stressed out when I needed to go to the toilet- I was wearing masculine clothes and a binder, how would women react if I went into their bathroom?- but it turns out that they were unisex, something I really wasn’t expecting.
Today I went into town and needed to wash my hands after eating (curse you, greasy food!). I hesitated for a moment before following my friend into the women’s bathroom, feeling like although I was dressed in ‘man clothes’ I probably wasn’t passing. The look of confusion and defiance from a small girl as I came out said the opposite.
This afternoon, still not feeling like I pass very well I went to get a coffee and was addressed as sir. Sir! I got nervous-the worst thing about being referred to as male is the person hearing your voice and correcting themselves, so I spoke quietly and tried not to act as flustered as I felt. It didn’t feel right, but whether its because that’s one of the first times its happened or because I wasn’t expecting it I don’t know.
I wrote this a while ago and it’s been sat in my drafts waiting to be published. I still feel like I pass much more when I’m alone than with people, but also that I’m more likely to be seen as male by women than men.
Also something that’s started to bug me more is being out in public with my family because they use my name so often, and it feels kind of like being out with them using my name and she/her pronouns ‘outs’ me? I’m not really sure how to explain it, but it definitely gets to me more when I’m around a lot of people than being at home.