From late-night TV jokes to sensational headlines, supposedly sordid pictures and judgmental comments, the media and public have lambasted Bruce Jenner’s until-now private gender transition process because his efforts to feminize his external presentation were seen as failures by traditional, cisgender female beauty standards. But many transgender people can neither “pass” nor afford to have surgery to do so – and trans women deserve kindness and respect whether they’re perceived by others as cisgender women or not.
Jenner himself seems to have absorbed the notion that “passing” – when strangers assume that we are cisgender instead of trans women – is vital to transition and is preparing for a “transformation” before going out in public again. But I fear that much of his political power as a woman who struggles to pass will be simply replaced, without discussion, by conventional constructions of female beauty.
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