Friday, September 25, 2009

Word of the Gay: "Passable"

"Passable" is a term used among the transgender community and admirers to describe a person who is seen and treated as their desired gender identity.


André said...

I would like to express that the definition written here has a fault. What do you mean by "opposite gender"? If, say, I was a trans women and I was told to that I was 'passable' that means that I am regarded or treated by my rightful gender. If I was to be "seen and treated as the opposite gender", that would mean that I will be seen and treated as a male person (if I was MTF). Now that is hardly the definiton of the word "passable". And that isn't the way one uses "passable" or "passing" in a trans community. If it was used as the definition here states, that is rather transphobic since it is DENYING ourselves or of trans people's identity of their true gender. The definition is indirectly invalidating my gender identity, telling me that I'm not really what I think I am.

I'm actually disappointed to see something like this on a LGBTQ blog. This definition is immensely misleading to the people in the non-trans community and may lead to miscomprehension of the difference between sex and gender. I would strongly urge that this definition be changed in order to avoid transphobic confusion.

Anonymous said...

bleh. passe much?

Amy K. said...

I, and many transsexuals I know, hate that term. It implies that one must "pass" in society, otherwise they will "fail." I prefer the term, "blending in." A friend of mind recently clued me in to something that may be even more appropriate: "gendered male" or "gendered female." What gender do people perceive you as, male or female? I like it. :)

TRiG said...

The "opposite" gender? Opposite to what?

Surely you mean a transgender person whose declared gender matches the gender people perceive him/her to be.

Or something like that. My phrasing is clumsy.


Queers United said...

Yes, thanks for all your input, what I meant to say is someone who is seen as the opposite gender identity from the one associated with their birth sex (the one which they desire). I will edit the post to hopefully make that clearer.

I personally think the word passable is ridiculous, it doesn't matter how you look or act, people need to respect and honor individual choices no matter how "passable" you are in the minds of others.

The Shaman Of Hedon said...

Goddammit, stupid clipboard. Accidentally posted a TwitPic link while trying to paste a comment.

The point is, this blog entry is EXACTLY the "i don't know any better but I'll do it anyway" crap Voz was pointing out to you, and instead of apologising for your error and trying to learn from it, you prove yourself just another poser of a trans "ally" by attacking her as a hater for daring to correct your mistake, effectively attempting to silence the trans woman so she can't tell you that you screwed up.

Queers United said...

Shaman what exactly in this post is a mistake? I wrote it poorly first and corrected it after the above comments. Is the word "passable" not used? I didn't make it up, it's a real word and we are discussing it here for all its positive, negative or neutral aspects.

Voz has attacked all sorts of people and unfairly in my opinion. She attacks transgender people who don't agree with her either. She is quick to label everyone a transphobe, even ones who strive to rid the world of transphobia. Yet nobody calls her out on comments such as "gays only care about how they look" and her previous comments about how she doesn't believe in marriage for gays. I'm sorry but LGBT means we gotta fight for the T but the T can't be anti the LGB, we are all in this together and I wish voz could understand that.

gudbuytjane said...

Oh, please, the "we're in this together" argument is a stupid and lazy cis derailing to avoid being called out on privilege.

If we're "in this together" you'd have learned to stop saying stupid things about trans people and then backpedaling when called out. Your focus on a trans woman who has called you out in the past instead of working to change your continual fail with trans issues suggests some bias and transmisogyny.

Short version: When a marginalized group tells you to STFU and listen, STFU and listen.

Queers United said...

There is no doubt there is cis privilege, i acknowledge that and fight for trans equality on my blog daily.

Now what "stupid things" did I say? No matter how much I post for trans rights, Voz finds something to nitpick. Give me examples! and not the Lady Gaga thing because I admit that was a failure on my part and I did apologize.

Lucy said...

Actually, I have never heard the word "passable" used within the transgender community. I have seen it used online by chasers (not "admirers"). I've only heard trans people talking about "passing" and how it enables them to not face violence from cis people.

genderbitch said...

What the hell, dude? Calling you on making a very common and nasty mistake among cisGLB folk regarding trans folk is not nitpicking.

And the fact is you have said cissexist things and every time people call you on it you act like we're being assholes

This shit is not acceptable.

Not only that but being seen and accepted as ourselves is not "passability". It is acceptance. It is people actually being decent to us for once. You edited the post once and still put in an incorrect definition that is cissexist in essence and form.

But hey, I must be nitpicking, huh?

Queers United said...

I don't condone the word, I don't like the word. I post words that are used in the community positive or negative including words like faggot, dyke, etc. Posting the word doesn't mean I condone or like it, it's an opportunity to define and explore what it mean and its implications.

Amy K. said...

If this is the way we (i.e. transsexuals) are going to act, society is less likely to accept, must less understand us. The original wording of the post was a bit off, but I have no problem with what it says now. Queers United didn't make up this term, nor did they make up "gay plague" or any of the other negative terms covered here. If we're going to keep flailing at shadows, we're not going to get anywhere.

On a side note, I actually haven't heard the word "passable" since 2002/2003, when I thought I was a crossdresser and hung out with such. I hear (and read) "passing" quite often though.

Queers United said...

Thank you Amy for your support, it really does hurt when people accuse me of being transphobic, homophobic, lesbophobic, etc, it is the farthest thing from my mission. I love all LGBT people and there is no first come first serve in the acronym for me, I am out to fight for us all and wish that was true of the entire community.

mewi said...

I fail to see how in anyway the term "passable" is offensive. Except for those who cannot pass and are jealous of those who can pass? Really, I think some people are being overly sensitive, the whole purpose of changing to another gender is to become as close to that gender as you possible can right? So shouldn't "passable" apply to those who manage it well?

Seriously people -.-

Lucy said...


I think we've all heard how we can only be accepted if we're not angry, if we don't make people "uncomfortable", and the like. It's part of the "We're just like you." strategy. But, it's also wrong. People don't accept others more when they're not confronted with their bigoted behaviour, when they're not forced to consider their bigotry.

The problem here is that Queers United uncritically posts terms. Some cis person reading this definition would not realise that their is contention among trans people over the idea of being considered "passable". Plus, the definition still has issues even as posted. Note the phrase "desired gender identity". This reflects a lack of understanding of the concept of gender identity. One doesn't have a "desired gender identity". One has a gender identity. Instead of "desired gender identity" it should read something like "self-identified gender".

Queers United,

It is mistakes, such as the one I identify immediately above as well a the already-corrected mistake of "opposite gender" in this definition alone, that make me question why you think it is a good idea to do these definitions of trans terms at all. You may love all LGBT people and wish to fight for trans people, but you show a lack of understanding about us. I appreciate your desire to not exclude trans people, but in writing inaccurate definitions of trans terms and in providing no context as to when such terms are contentious or insulting, you are not helping trans people. I would suggest it is better to exclude us from your Word of the Gay posts than to misinform people.

Queers United said...

Lucy the gender identity itself is not desired, it is their gender identity, is is their desire to be seen, treated and respect as such. I think we are nitpicking over words here.

Word of the Gay is about posting all sorts of words about the community, it is through the comments that readers can see how different people feel about these words. For example today's word is "batty boy" it is an offensive word against gay men used in the Carribean. I in no way approve of this word, but it is a word that is used and therefore something I think worthy of being defined, and discussed.

Amy K. said...

There's nothing wrong with being angry, or confronting predjudice. However, I think this is the wrong target, and there are many others that are much more worthy. This is nitpicking, in that the term at the end of the definition may not be exactly correct, but come on now... that's not what the point of this post is about. If "passable" is a correct or incorrect term, then let's comment on that and inform the cisgendered folk.

belledame222 said...

QU, you once asked me why I had an issue with you, I believe? Fine. Because you keep claiming to "speak for" everyone because you "love" them (really? -every- Member Of The Community? gosh, I sure don't) and then when people say, no, rly, you're doin it wrong, you keep missing the point. Stop trying to corner the market, and stop whining when you insist on doing it and people tell you you're getting it wrong. In short: I find you deeply tiresome in much the same way I find anyone else who's trying to Make A Name For Themselves whilst firmly convinced that no, really, it's not self-aggrandizing, it's -completely selfless devotion to the Cause/Others," and it HURTS me when you doubt my pure intentions...

and by the way, you might want to check out who you're addressing when you speak about trans people as "they."

Lucy said...

Queers United,

Thank you for explaining to me about gender identity and about the desire trans people have to be seen as the gender they are. As a trans woman, I was unclear on that.

Queers United and Amy,

I think it is the height of irony to complain about nitpicking over words in a post that contends to define a word. Words mean things. When we define words, we assert a view of reality. So, when a word is misdefined, reality is misperceived. This is why groups argue over terms and definitions. (Love the derail about how I should be off fighting more worthy battles, BTW.)

Queers United,

Seriously, if you can't be bothered to accurately define words, don't do it. No one is forcing you to do this. I repeat that you are not helping trans people, you are offending them and hindering them by both incorrectly defining words and by providing no context to use (And, yes, I noticed that you define "batty boy" as a perjorative. Interesting that you provide context for a word about cis gays, but not about trans people.).

Of course I fully expect you to again assert you're fighting for all queer people and love us and are trying to encourage discussion about trans issues by (mis-)defining words. And, since Amy, a trans woman, agrees with you, then you'll feel free to ignore all the other trans women here (and on Twitter and elsewhere) who have disagreed with you. So, expecting that, I'm done here. I'm not going to repeat myself endlessly or have a cis person explain my reality to me.

Queers United said...

You will notice on many postings where an offensive trans word is used, I say that and explain it is pejorative. WOG is not meant to go into deep history or etymology of the word but provide a mere brief snippet. I did not say "passable" is offensive, because that is subject to discussion. I believe most trans ppl find it offensive, I certainly see how it would negate someone else who doesnt "pass" according to societal definitions of what genders look like. I have though seen some trans people use it positively, and since they embrace the word, it isn't my right to place my own feelings on it. That is what commenting is for, and I encourage you to express how you all feel.

Anonymous said...

Y'all are really splitting hairs defining a non-critical aspect of individual relations. But while I'm here, that gal is hot!

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