YOUR SILENCE WILL NOT PROTECT YOU
- Audre Lorde
in 9 Affirming Steps
by Kai Cheng Thom [extract]
1. Accept That You Will Never Pass All the Time
Little by little, you begin to see that the concept of 'passing'
is a test that has been rigged against you...
There will always be someone telling you that you are ugly, unnatural,
unfeminine, that you don't pass. Sometimes, you will be that person...
Your body is not a failure. You are not a failure.
2. Grieve the Body That You Wanted, But Cannot Have
At some point, you have to give up the fantasy: the consuming,
soul-sucking fantasy that if you just work hard enough, if you can just find a way
to change your body enough, you'll be granted entry into the world of cisgender privilege...
It takes time, space, and tears to release this fantasy. To accept that
there is a difference between changing the way you look and the way that people see you.
It takes strength to do this. And grief.
3. Meet Non-Passing Trans Women Who Take Your Breath Away
Along the way on your journey through gender, you meet gorgeous,
sexy women who know how to look all kinds of fabulous in heels and a beard...
To be honest, there is a part of you that is afraid of women like this, at first...
Then you realize that you envy these women. You want to be free
and unafraid of your body, your clothes, yourself, like they are.
Then you realize that there is nothing stopping you.
4. Start to Dream of New Ways of Looking More Than Pretty
As you experiment with your gender presentation, you start to
conceive of a kind of femininity that goes way beyond
the vapid prettiness that you were always taught to want...
Your femininity doesn't have to be soft and unthreatening -
it can be powerful and challenging, or silly and strange.
It can be a cloak of invisibility,
to protect you in public, or a shining femme armor that deflects all insults...
5. Learn to Love the 'Ugly'
...To some people, you realize, you will always be ugly, uncomfortable
and shocking to look at, a kind of real-life monster.
This is painful, of course, and dangerous. But it can also be a source of strength...
Your body will not conform to the restrictions that society tries
to place on it, and defies expectations-creates room for social change-simply by existing...
6. Find Your Fierceness
When you are non-passing or semi-passing, you have no choice but
to find your fierceness: the gift and legacy of all trans women.
Fierceness is the ability to walk in the world like every shitty alleyway
and downtown street is your runway...
Fierceness is the courage it takes to get out of bed in the morning
when you know that your sisters are being beaten and killed.
Fierceness glows like a flame in you, even when you are feeling your worst
and most defeated: it lights you up and makes you shine.
7. Doubt Yourself
There are days when you fly. When you take the world by storm,
impervious to harm in your femme armor.
And there are days when you collapse. When all it takes is a misplaced
masculine pronoun, or a hurtful question from your partner,
or a shouted insult on the subway to take your armor apart.
There are days when you open your Facebook feed,
and right there is an article reporting that yet another trans woman
has been killed or committed suicide.
These are the days when you fall.
8. Get Your Groove Back
This is how you pick yourself and put yourself back together: You sleep.
Cry. Eat shitty foods, or fancy food, if you can afford it.
Watch bad TV on the Internet... Write bad poetry and post it on Tumblr.
Call your trans sister again. Have a heart to heart. Sleep some more.
Then you open the door and face the world again, for all its danger and all its gifts.
Wear something that makes you feel good about yourself.
9. Rinse and Repeat
For the rest of your life.
Extract from: How to Love Being a Non-Passing Trans Woman
in 9 Affirming Steps by Kai Cheng Thom
edit of image gleaned from internet