Transition and Transit: Passing as your Legal Gender

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airport security
airport security

For transmen/women who are still traveling on the basis of their “legal” gender, do you have tips to pass in the “legal” gender while transitioning? For transmen/women who are still traveling on the basis of their “legal” gender, do you have tips to pass in the “legal” gender while transitioning?

Shaman : I don’t think anyone should try to pass as it triggers dysphoria. I would prefer to deal with 10 other people at the airport rather than fight my dysphoria. I am sure once on HRT, they can at least pass 70% of the time as their own gender. The rest has to be confidence and knowing your rights.So, the first rule is don’t use ID cards which have gender on it. Use DL or pan card or bank passbook with photo. If you don’t have one, that’s okay. There are 2 places where you need to show your ID proof. One is the security gate at the main entrance to an airport. These people just need to match your name with the ticket name and also see your flight details etc. Then, there is the airline person who gives you your boarding pass. Technically nobody will care about your gender on the ID (and this is by experience). Yes, they may call u Sir or Ma’am depending on how you pass but that is the case outside the airport also. My point is, they cannot deny you a boarding pass because of whatever gender you have on your ID card, how you look, and what gender you have put on the ticket. No one bothers about it as long as name matches.
Now comes the difficult part – the security check. Here you have to make a decision. If you don’t pass 100%, there are chances people will ask you to stand in the ‘other’ queue which might be embarrassing, but you need to just smile and tell them you know where you want to get checked. Here, just choose according to wherever you think you’ll be more comfortable getting checked, don’t think about whether you pass that well or not. If the security personnel ask you to go to the other gender’s queue, then you can politely tell them that their duty is to check, and you will get yourself checked wherever you feel more comfortable. As a transman, I usually used to choose female queue first one or two times and then every time the females in the queue would ask me what I was doing there, as my gender expression was male, and I had to explain every time. It was chaotic, so from then onwards I have always stood in male queue whether I was on HRT or not, but no issue has been created till today. And even though I know there are chances that the security personnel will realize that I am not physically male, I know I can shut them down and ask them to do their job which is of checking and not care whether I was male or female. And I would be glad if the ruckus is created, at least I would get a chance to educate 10 security personnel around, if required I would speak to the senior authorities and ensure that they educate themselves.

Aditya : When I was on HRT, I went to my recognize gender queue, instead of legal gender .(no tips)

Anu : If you are passable, book the ticket as Ms. (for transwomen) because most of the airports doesn’t ask for ID cards. At the second security check, just go through the check in your legal gender.

Vidya : For transmen: I think there is NO WAY one can pass as female once you get facial hair and your voice deepens. So if you have started T, best to get your documents changed, instead of hoping to pass as female. I have cis female friends with short hair / crew cuts etc who have also been questioned in women’s queues, and in general people are more finicky about women’s spaces if someone does not fully pass as a woman, so don’t take that chance. Just get your documents updated and go through the men’s side, or even without documents, just go through the men’s side once you have facial hair and a deep enough voice.

For trans women: It depends on many things. If your voice is still in male range, that can help you pass for a LONG time. However, if you have long hair, have had laser on face so there is no beard shadow, and with a few months on HRT if there are visible breasts and slight changes in face structure, then it can be VERY hard to pass as a guy no matter what you wear, and even if you use your voice. In such cases, voice can only confuse people or make them angry instead of making you safe. So here also, within 6 months of starting HRT, please plan to get your documents updated.

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