By Elise Pallagi

Your Slurs Empowered Me, 2017

I am not a good trans woman

According to the conventional narrative The end goal of all the shit we endure

Is to be able to go stealth and blend into society


How do I start to explain to you this bullshit concept?

To go stealth is to blend in

Do I look like I blend in well?


I guarantee you there are trans people out there you would not know were trans unless they told you

Their secret, their shame


You see, we are taught to be ashamed of what we are

We are supposed to blend in and fade out of existence

If we succeed in that, then we pass

If we do not pass, then what does that make us?



To stick out is to be a failure

To not be masculine or feminine enough is a failure

Therefore I am a failure

Because logic, right?


I became a failure the moment I used my voice to speak out

The act of standing up against injustice

Runs counter to blending in

Standing up here and speaking up about this means that I have failed at this standard


You see, I grew up having my own identity dictated to me

Roles and expectations forced upon me

Trained to conform to ideals of masculinity

Chastised for expressing my femininity


Conformity beaten into me

Counter to my own personality

Trained to reject my identity

Forced to accept toxic masculinity


Then when I show the world the real me

If I want to be taken seriously

I have to accept that this society

Will police my gender identity


In order to transition medically

And have the gatekeepers take you seriously

You must conform to a set identity

Enforced by heteropatriarchy


Back in the dark ages of gender therapy

We were forced into heteronormativity

Because being both transgender and a lesbian was not a valid identity


To have a psychiatrist sign off on me

I would have to feign heterosexuality

Pretend to be what they want me to be

While ignoring my own reality


Thankfully that is way things used to be

But this reality is something that has changed slowly

And though the medical professionals don’t always reinforce heteronormativity

Society still makes assumptions about my sexuality


Society still expects me to conform to their standards of femininity in order to be taken seriously

Take the interviewer who wanted to hire me on the basis of trans identity

Yet I did not conform to their expectations of femininity


Cause minimal makeup and a pantsuit is not good enough you see

Works for Hillary Clinton but not for me

At least not for someone’s conception of femininity

Who demanded I present their version consistently

There is no room for me to be butch you see…


Same goes for urologist I had to see

For a consultation for surgery

He would not take me seriously

Cause I failed to meet his expectations of femininity

Cause an old man knows exactly what this is, right?


Trouble is certain things you see

Are prohibitively expensive for me

Hair removal costs a lot of money

And facial feminization is considered elective surgery


Passing is a privilege that is alien to me

I fail at it because we live in a world of superficiality

Where my ability to perform femininity

Is dictated by my financial reality


Otherwise my identity has no validity

And going stealth is simply a myth to me

Cause in order to stand up for what is right

I must fail and accept my trans visibility