Trans Visibility Means Never Assuming Cisgender Status

Earlier this week was Transgender Day of Visibility. I struggled a little bit with what to say about this, because I work to be visible in my life. While I am often mistaken for a cisgender man by those who don’t know me, I’m quick to come out, unabashed about my transgender history, and basically unwilling to be mistaken as cis for long. In fact, not being visible is incredibly uncomfortable for me. I don’t WANT to be seen as cisgender, and being told that I do is not a compliment to me.

What I really wish for is a time in which I am no longer assumed to be cisgender. Further, I want to reach a moment in which my genderqueer spouse isn’t either, nor my cisgender boyfriend. Real visibility will come when people understand instinctively that someone’s physical characteristics are a poor way of judging our identities. The goal of visibility for me is not to show people how male I look and prove my dude-ness, but to show that you never know someone’s history or identity by looking at them.

There are some places where this is beginning to happen. In some feminist spaces and some queer spaces I see no surprise on people’s faces when I reference having transitioned. In the best of situations, in school or at kink events, people remember to ask EVERYONE their pronouns as easily as we ask people’s names. This is getting better in those places. I hope it will continue to so that we can spread these practices to more places and times.

But for now I just hope a few more people will remember not to assume people are cis until you are told otherwise. Try to assume nothing and we all can be more visibly ourselves.

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Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes

Benny Vimes is a queer polyamorous transman, curious skeptic, and enthusiastic seeker of knowledge. He's an undergraduate student in his 30's and loves teaching people about alternative sexuality and gender issues.

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