Kitty Fisher

Size-positivity, feminism, self-esteem crises, ginormous tits.

Passing

Posted by Kitty on May 29, 2008

Yes. This is the sort of thing I’ve been trying to say.

Here’s the thing, and it’s not a thing I’ve ever been comfortable with: I pass. I have a profound amount of privilege for what I am. I’m thin, my disability is invisible, my appearance is white, and it is very very easy for me not to appear queer or genderqueer, whether I mean this to be the case or not.
It is strange to be both lucky and ashamed of that luck. It is strange to be a chameleon who never got a choice in the matter of all her choice.
[…]
Our world is filled with the tyranies of the flesh. And the discussion of that extends well into the online sphere.

“Internet bullshit” is not just on the Internet. People say things online that they’d be too polite to say in person, but that doesn’t mean they don’t think them.
I experience this quite a lot because I, like the poster I just linked to, “pass” in a lot of people’s eyes. So co-workers and acquaintances and even people I’ve come to think of as friends will occasionally let slip things that insult me, marginalize or belittle me, for things that they don’t realize I am, or things they don’t realize will hurt me.

I am queer, in that my primary determining factor in a sexual partner is not his or her genitalia, but rather the personality: I have loved women, I have loved men. But I am also monogamous, and in a long-term relationship with a man. So I am identified, by others, as “straight”. And because, while my relationship with this female body is a little ambivalent at times, and my brain is really not very female at all, I do not do anything to identify as other than female, I am easily pigeonholed as a straight female.
So people make jokes about lesbians around me (yes, really), and people make jokes about transsexuals and women trapped in men’s bodies, and people say really cruel and hurtful things about the “bi-curious”.

I am fat, in that my BMI is over 30 and I can’t fit into normal clothing. But I am hourglassy, busty, small-waisted, with the extra flesh stuffed into the Womanly Ideal parts of me. There are outfits I can’t pull off, but I have a reasonably conventional figure, slightly scaled up from the acceptable norms. Friends have become quite vehement in denying me the ‘fat’ label.

I try to use this to the advantage of my beliefs. I try to say, don’t I seem normal to you? But I am queer too, I am fat too, I don’t think someone’s genitals entirely determine their gender, and I am not a bad person. Often it is too easily dismissed– no, you’re not like them, you’re not what I was talking about. I didn’t mean you.
More often it just shuts conversation down.

Online it’s a bit different. Of course. But it’s real here, too. I am growing tired of using the word ‘privilege’ but how else to explain my odd viewpoints? Sometimes I slide by on privilege, and sometimes it is denied me– this is an odd state, this in-between. I am thoroughly aware of it. I try to use this, try to move into the circles denied those whose “unacceptable” characteristics are more obvious than mine, and try to use that to widen these circles. Am I doing more harm than good? Am I helping?
I don’t know.

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