As you may know, Priscilla’s Services went to the theatre in May this year. We went to see Priscilla Queen of the Desert and had a blast. If you are interested, you can read about it on the Priscilla’s page. However, I have wanted to tell you all about one funny incident. The fact that it has taken me nearly five months to do so is a testament to how busy I have been lately.
At the interval for Priscilla Queen of the Desert, my spouse, one of her clients and I needed to go to the toilet. It was quite nice that when we arrived at the facility, the usher on duty directed all three of us to the ladies’ room. Passing for the win!
After making use of the facilities we went to go and get a drink. I was not thirsty so I declined the offer and waited for the other two in the foyer a short distance away from the bar area (all open plan). I was catching up on some messages on my mobile phone, when I felt that I was being observed. I looked up and noticed that I was being watched by a couple (male and female) a few metres away. They saw me see them and emboldened they came up to me and started talking.
The male half of the couple was very interested. I had been ‘read’, ‘clocked’ and generally seen. Not passing… Not for the win! In truth, whilst it is always disappointing when someone figures you out because it suggests you have done something that has let your overall presentation down, I am not going to let this get me down. I am simply who I am and all I can do is be my authentic self. I am not trying to ‘trap’ anyone. I am not trying to fool anyone. All I do is try to get my outer shell to reflect my inner self and look as good as I can, whilst doing so, not for any external reason, but because I want to reflect how I feel on the inside. Therefore, I do not adjust my voice (much), I am just myself…
Anyway, this person was very interested in why I was out dressed, how I managed to walk in shoes and he did compliment me on my appearance. I still don’t know what gave me away, I never asked. I explained why we were there and at that point my spouse and her (en femme) client came up. He ‘read’ our client and we had a bit of a chat.
He then turned to my (cisgender) spouse and asked her, ‘so, how long have you been dressing?’ I couldn’t resist laughing and explained that no, she was not a transgender person, no she was not a crossdresser… She was in fact born with a vagina, has had two children etc. This led to a little embarrassment all round, but we laughed it off and fortunately my spouse was not insulted at all. She is special that way! I still have no idea how this person could have mistaken her for a transgender person, she is a very feminine woman, but maybe that is a testament to her makeup skills on her client and our overall presentation. We must have created ‘reasonable doubt’ in his mind, and that was enough to confuse him.
Now yes, this is all rather amusing but there is a reason (beyond hopefully bringing a smile to your faces) for me recounting this story. So many of us (whether we are crossdressers who venture out en femme, or transgender people in the midst of transitioning) worry about ‘passing’. We look at people to see how they are reacting to us. We obsessively check ourselves in every reflective surface we pass. ‘Are we passing?’ We continually ask. We worry about how we walk, we obsess over our gestures, do we bend down ‘correctly’ and is our ‘tuck’ working. This sometimes, ironically, impedes our ability to pass. We may overcompensate, or worry so much about not having any ‘tells’ that our normal social interactions are impeded. Of course, when it comes to speaking to people we also worry so much that we may even forego normal communication, ironically, possibly arousing even more suspicions. These concerns are all wrapped up in our sometimes fragile body image and self image. We suffer from gender dysphoria and desperately want our inner gender to more accurately be reflected in our bodies.
This little episode showed me that it is all immaterial! If a cisgender, feminine woman can be read as transgender, then we should all just relax. Be ourselves. Nobody passes! We all get read. Getting read has nothing to do with us, the observed, and everything to do with the observer. What they think of us will always say more about them than it says about us and we should just live our lives, authentically and stop worrying about who thinks what of us. We owe nobody anything. We owe ourselves everything. So, let’s simply be ourselves in the world and be happy with who we are. I know some transgender people say they do not aim to pass, but to blend. In other words they simply hope to not be noticed. This is perfectly fine, but we must also realise that even ‘blending’ has its limits.
So just be you. Nobody can be anything else. Nobody can be a better ‘you’ than you. Nobody can be happy unless they are being their true self, so let’s do that. Finally, I suppose, if nobody passes, then in a strange way, we all pass.