“Passing” at work

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about work.  During my depression, I was in and out of work a few times, totaling 8 weeks of sick leave.  It’s been difficult to get back into the swing of things.  Some changes were made, and I wasn’t in the best place to acclimate to new routines.  It’s starting to get a little better, just in time to get disrupted again for summer cleaning (switching from an afternoon/night shift to a day shift starting the week after next.)

But this post isn’t really about that work stuff.  It’s about something that brightened my day yesterday.  A parent of a student saw me as male, and it made my day.  I know the term “passing” is problematic because it connotes a deception is taking place and it sets up a discrepancy amongst those who “pass” and those who don’t – it shouldn’t be about that!  We are who we are.  Despite all this, I really like the word and feel like it describes my experience.

Here’s a few past posts where I talk about it:
Recent instances of passing
Passing as a teenager yet again
Thirty-one year old kid working as a school janitor
Rumors flying around the kindergarten classroom

I feel like people generally see me as female.  I gotta say I’m even (very pleasantly) surprised when I’m seen as male; I feel I am not masculine enough.  When I am seen as male, “passing” accurately describes the experience, because I am not male (I am definitely not female either).

Yesterday, a dad and his son approached me while I was cleaning.  The son forgot his spelling homework and had to get access to his classroom.  I said sure and which room and we went there.  I unlocked the door, turned on the lights, and stood waiting, because that’s what we’re supposed to do.  The kid came back from his desk with a book but no spelling homework.  The dad asked,

“Where’s your homework?”

The kid sputtered, “I guess when we were clearing out our desks I must have put it in my bag?  But I do need this book.”

“So we just bothered this gentleman for no reason?”

I said, “That’s totally fine.  At least you got your book!”

The dad continued, “Tell him you’re sorry.”


“Not a problem.  You guys have a good night.”

I was conversing with these people and spending more than a second in their presence.  And the dad saw me as male!!!  And whether the kid knows I’m biologically female (I’m not out at work… yet!) he didn’t say anything one way or the other.  It felt really validating.  I held onto that feeling as long as I could.

In other news, the NY Times is giving trans-people an opportunity to tell their story in 400 words or less.  It’s totally awesome!  Here’s the link to what’s out there already, and a chance to share your own story:  Tell your story.  I already told my story!

8 Comments on ““Passing” at work”

  1. butchcountry67 says:

    that is quite awesome, it feels good to be acknowledged on how we see ourselves, it’s a good feeling , enjoy it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kris says:

    Nice pic, Kameron!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. actimom says:

    It those moments that make one smile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tea With Ess says:

    Awesome! I know the feeling… 🙂


  5. karenmcl says:

    It really is validating when that happens. I know the feeling well. It tells us that we’re doing something right, I think, especially if we identify solidly as one end of the spectrum or the other. I wonder, though, about those of us in the middle. What validates them? Maybe simply being accepted and valued for who they are? Hmmm. Yes, I could live with that. That would do very well. Mr. Solo, make it so.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. arhizome says:

    I know this feeling! It’s rare, but validates something deeply internal. I don’t mind the term passing either, as I also feel non-binary, but getting gendered as male feels ‘most right.’ Lately I’ve been using the term ‘legible’. I’m becoming legible.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pixie says:

    Such an incredibly rare occurrence for me, but both times it happened it felt so validating to “pass” I immediately felt the need to share the moment with two friends who’d understand my delight at passing. Being able to share it and get a happy response back just makes the moment that much better for me. 🙂

    And yea, it feels like passing to me to. That whole “authentic self” doesn’t feel right for me, though I’m glad others feel that way. Things like this: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/05/20/op-ed-im-trans-man-who-doesnt-pass-and-you-shouldnt-either leave me feeling really uncomfortable. I understand why others don’t like the term passing and I’m happy that others can “move past it” or however they describe it, but judging those who do relate to the term doesn’t really feel right to me either.

    Another case of “bad trans” is what it feels like to me. Which makes me grateful I never identified as trans and still don’t, but makes me so sad for those who do and who would be or are hurt by it.

    Liked by 1 person

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