As a Gender Affirmation Coach, the goal of my work is to help transgender people heal, and find unconditional love for their authentic selves. This involves affirming people from the INSIDE. It’s finding that love for yourself, within yourself, and knowing that you are always valid, no matter what. A trans woman wearing track pants and rocking a beard, is JUST AS VALID, as a trans woman who looks like a Victoria’s Secret Model all the time.
Every trans persons experience is valid
When it comes to passing, I find that non-passing trans people, whether intentionally or not, invalidate my experience, and my authority on this topic because I am cis-passing. Saying things like “well, it’s easy for you” or “that’s easy for you to say”. I want you to know:
- Every single person is on their own path.
- Everyone has their own experiences, and their own struggles.
- There are many people out there who look EXACTLY how you wish you looked, and they HATE themselves.
- There are people out there who look a way you would never want to look yourself, and they LOVE themselves.
This is an internal experience. The fact that I am cis-passing in society does not invalidate my experience as a trans person, and it does not make me any less capable of helping people love themselves deeply and unconditionally.
I understand what it’s like to not “pass”
I have been on both sides of the fence when it comes to this. I haven’t always passed. I’ve been walking down the street having every second person gawking at me, calling me awful names, singing the “Transformers” theme song as I walk past, throwing things at me, at one point in my life, that was an inescapable reality for me. That said, I understand the feeling of wanting to be cis-passing, and thinking that cis-passing trans people “have it easy”. There absolutely was a level of resentment that I had towards cis-passing trans people around this.
So believe me, I understand where you’re coming from. I acknowledge the privilege that I have to be able to pass as cis. I do. All that surface level hate I wrote about before, the people yelling awful things on the street, I avoid most of that thanks to my genetics, and I understand there are many trans people out there who can’t avoid that. Who don’t have the privilege of blending in. Some of which never will, because we are all genetically different, and not everyone CAN pass.
You do not need to “pass” to be valid!
I understand this can be quite disheartening, but please understand that you do not need to pass to be valid. You are valid no matter what! Maybe that is easy for me to say because I pass and don’t struggle with that much (anymore), however I will not have my experience as a transgender person invalidated because of something I did not choose. I will not feel shame or guilt for passing. I will still help everyone find deep acceptance and love for themselves no matter what, because everyone has their own struggles, whether they pass or not.
Some people think that passing, and maybe getting gender affirmation surgery, means that all their problems suddenly disappear. They don’t. People who discriminate against, and hate trans people for existing, hate people who pass, just as much as they hate people who don’t pass.
The danger of being “cis passing”
It is a radical and potentially dangerous act to simply exist as a trans person in society, and every trans person experiences their own issues. For instance, trans women who DO pass, while they might not experience the same level of harassment on the street, can be put in very dangerous situations. For example, when a transphobic man hits on them in public.
Scenario, you’re minding your own business, maybe having a drink with a friend at a bar…
A man walks up to you and starts flirting with you. You politely decline their advancements, and they don’t let up. This is a dangerous situation for women as a whole. Now lets add the complexity of the woman being trans. Their friend at the bar, let’s say they went to high school with you, and they know you were assigned male at birth. They go up to their friend and say “did you know that’s a man”.
Depending on the person, depends on what reaction could come of this, however this is usually quite a triggering scenario for a transphobic man. They will feel like you TOOK something from them. They will feel threatened, because the fact that you exist, and they couldn’t tell you weren’t cis, makes them think that you “tricked” them. And what happens then? They believe you “turned them gay”, suddenly they have to question their perception of reality.
The most dangerous part? This will cause them to abruptly question their CORE IDENTITY. Their beliefs, their values, their sexuality, suddenly all come into question by your very existence. If you’re lucky, the person might have some critical thinking skills and remove themselves from the situation to contemplate. If you’re not so lucky, this situation might bruise their ego so much, that they decide to bruise YOU. This is how trans murders happen.
The same transphobic man who perceives you to be trans right off the bat, might be rude to you, might call you an awful name, maybe they’ll tip your drink over and call you a “f**got” like what has happened to me in the past when I didn’t pass. While this is awful…
- Your existence will not threaten his core identity to the point that he will murder you (most of the time).
I’m not saying trans people who don’t pass don’t get murdered because of course they do… But you can clearly see which situation houses more potential danger.
INTERNAL gender affirmation work is extremely important!
There are certain things as trans people, that we need to find radical acceptance for. The things which we can’t necessarily change about ourselves. There is always going to be an aspect of that, no matter what! This is why I am so passionate about INTERNAL gender affirmation work. You can have the most radical change on the outside ever seen, but if you don’t do the internal work, you could be the most beautiful looking person in the world, and still hate your own guts.
I cannot stress this enough. Doing the internal work is SO important. Does it mean you have to 100% accept everything, and not change your outward appearance at all? Of course not. You can still align your outside with your inside within reason.
There reaches a point where the issue is no longer external, it is internal!
It is an unfortunate fact, that some trans people, simply will not be able to pass. I say “unfortunate” because I know so many want to. Badly. And they will put their body through so much pain to try and reach that goal. I used to starve myself, because I thought that if I denied my body of nutrients, that it would stunt the male puberty.
Growing into a body you don’t feel is yours, can be immensely painful. Trust me, I know. The confidence I have today, isn’t just because of my outward appearance. I have looked relatively the same a couple years ago, yet I didn’t want anyone to see me. I would have panic attacks if my forehead was visible, I would cover my adams apple constantly. I wouldn’t leave the house without spending 2 hours on hair and makeup. I would spend hours every day criticising the way I looked.
When I was doing this, I PASSED. The issue I had was with my internal perception of myself. There is a reason I can drop my voice in front of people, show my adams apple, and not feel dysphoric about it. It’s because I did the internal work. I practiced radical self-acceptance and self-love. I CHOSE to be happy with myself. And make no mistake, you can chose to be happy with yourself no matter what your external looks like.
I’m reminded of Turia Pitt. You may have heard of her…
If she can, you can!
“In 2011, I was a mining engineer, living my dream life in the Australian outback. Then, while competing in a 100km ultra-marathon, I was caught in a grassfire.
I was choppered out of the remote desert barely alive, with full thickness burns to 65 percent of my body. I lost seven fingers, had over 200 medical procedures and spent two gruelling years in recovery.
Surviving against overwhelming odds, I’ve rebuilt my life and defied every expectation placed on me.”
Turia decided to do the inner work. She decided to be happy despite her circumstances. She overcame great odds, and lives the best life that she can now, inspiring thousands. It’s truly a turning lemons into lemonade story.
Do you think if Turia believed she just needed her skin to go back to exactly how it was before she was caught in a fire before she could be happy, that she would be able to find acceptance and happiness? NO. Because happiness and acceptance for yourself does not come from your external appearance solely. It comes from the INTERNAL work.
You can find out more about Turia Pitt by visiting her website here: www.turiapitt.com
Love yourself anyway!
I’m sorry if this is discouraging, but if it is, then you probably need to hear it. Some of us don’t have a choice when it comes to our appearance. When this is the case, the only thing we can do is learn to love and accept ourselves anyway! Because if you don’t, then enjoy your pit of despair for the rest of your life. I know that seems harsh, but it’s reality.
When you understand that your body is simply your humble flesh vessel for your beautifully stunning consciousness, you can then let go. And heal. Your physical body is not YOU. Again, your physical body, is NOT YOU. You are SO much more than that.
My mission is to help you understand that on a deep and healing level, so that you can live your life with the love for yourself that you deserve. Because you deserve so much more than you are currently giving yourself.
Thank you, and I love you. xx