Text: Arnaud Demaison

I pass, therefore I am

At least once in their lives, all LGBTIQA+ people have experienced discrimination related to their gender or sexuality. In this sequence of letters, the “T” for transgender is particularly vulnerable. Once, coming out of the metro in Paris, Julia was surrounded by several people who touched her breasts and shouted, “Hey, are you a man?”, then hit her in the face. A few months ago, a transgender woman was injured in Geneva by a man who asked to see her genitals “to check”. And violence is compounded by poverty. The unemployment rate for trans people in Switzerland is 20%, or five times higher than the average. The degree of brutality may vary, but the process is the same: trying to eliminate all forms of diversity.

Passing refers to the ability to blend into a group without others suspecting a different gender identity or sexual orientation. Many transgender people view passing as vital protection to be able to function in our society. We know now that the earlier the transition starts – before the development of secondary sex characteristics – the more easily the person will be able to pass in the future. But in reality, transition involves a heavy medical treatment that requires support from specialists and is irreversible, even more so when surgery is used (see article). The medical field therefore faces a dilemma: what is the best way to assist them, sometimes urgently, knowing that there’s not always the option of going back?

The construction of an individual’s gender begins before birth, “in the musings of parents”, says our expert Dana Pamfile (see article). This unconscious pressure is passed on to teenagers who, like Léon (see article), can become aware very early of a dysphoria about their identity without being able to express it, and suffer from their image for many years. A recent study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada reports that one transgender person (waiting to transition) out of three attempted suicide in 2021. And more than two-thirds are estimated to think regularly about taking their own lives. The public health state of emergency has been declared and the medical community tackles it head on in Transgender youths: How can we help them? (see article), to give these young people every possible chance, because their life hangs in the balance. By providing gender transition consultations, even for younger people, we can support them through the process and implement medically responsible solutions that will open the doors to the workplace and life in society, without having to suffer from the gaze of others. Until we live in a world that no longer counts Xs and Ys, let’s allow them the possibility of “passing”, so that they may exist.