Thursday, January 21, 2016

From the Archives: On Passing

Something made me think about this little section of a larger post and I had to search Stealing Commas because I couldn't remember what the larger post was about, and didn't really care.

So here's what I wrote:

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Not having passing be an option [in a fictional setting] is a useful device because the fact of the matter is that a world where passing is necessary, or even a thing at all, is one where things are still fucked up.

People can and should have their own ideas on how they want to look and there's nothing wrong with a trans man wanting to look like certain cis men do or a trans woman wanting to look like certain cis women do.  But that's not what passing is.

Passing is when the only way for a trans man to be accepted as a man is when he's mistaken for a cis man and when a trans woman can only be accepted as a woman when she's mistaken for a cis woman and that's fucking bullshit.  Trans men shouldn't have to pass as men because they are men, trans women shouldn't have to pass as women because they are women.

And, moreover, passing eliminates everyone who isn't binary to begin with.

In a setting where passing as cis is impossible people are forced to either accept people or be bigots, because there's no way to have the real world bullshit standard of, "It's ok to be trans so long as I don't know you are."

Trans used without the "*" because here I'm only talking about people who are firmly in the gender binary.  Like I said, the idea of passing erases everyone else entirely.

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Like I said, it's just a little section of a larger post, but it popped into my head and when it did I wanted to reiterate the central point: the entire concept of passing is proof that the world is extremely fucked up.

Passing is about being forced to pretend you're something you're not (cis) in order to be accepted as something you are (male or female.)  And, as noted, non-binary people need not apply for full humanity in a world where passing matters.

It's a complete and utter mess and a damning bit of evidence that we live in a world where we even have a concept of passing for anything other than actors playing roles.  ("He totally passed as a racoon, I never looked at Rocket and thought, "That's really a human actor hiding behind CGI.")

So that's one dredged up from the archives.

For anyone who is interested, it's part of a larger rambling post about how visible unmistakable sexual dichotomy in speculative fiction could be used to explore the diversity of gender and sexuality in a world where passing is impossible, and I was inspired to write it when I noticed that inklings, from the Nintendo game Splatoon, had visible unmistakable sexual dichotomy (but didn't use it to explore such issues.)

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