Passing privilege affects everyone, just as the gender binary affects everyone, but, as usual, the people who are scrutinised most are women, gay women who don’t conform to society’s gender norms, and trans women – so in this sense, passing is just another way in which women’s bodies are policed and rated on whether they are ‘good enough’. Few women conform to society’s ideas of What A Woman Should Look Like, so the idea of passing as "acceptably" female or "feminine enough" is something that applies to pretty much every woman, whether they are cis or trans. And that is bullshit.
22-year-old Aimee Toms was washing her hands in the women’s bathroom at Walmart when someone approached her and said
, “You’re disgusting!” and “You don’t belong here!” It seems that Toms – who was born with a uterus and identifies as a woman – didn’t pass as female. She believes she was harassed because of the current panic about trans people in bathrooms, as women who don’t look traditionally "feminine" face greater scrutiny: “After experiencing the discrimination they face firsthand, I cannot fathom the discrimination transgender people must face in a lifetime… Can you imagine going out every day and having people tell you you should not be who you are or that people will not accept you as who you are?”
Sadly, this is not a problem confined to America. Earlier this year, a 16-year-old lesbian was thrown out of a McDonald’s in Hull because staff believed she was a boy, reported the Metro
. The girl, Ny Richardson, has short hair and eschews makeup. McDonald’s claim she was part of a group of youngsters who were being disruptive, but Richardson tells a very different story: “I ordered my food and left it with my girlfriend as I went to the toilet. When I was in there, someone told me to get out and when I sat back down, the manager came over and told me that I needed to leave because I have been in the girls' toilet. I said to him, 'Why do I need to leave? I'm a girl, can you not tell by my voice?' I'm used to being accused of being a boy, but this time I was humiliated in front of the whole restaurant.”
Personally, I’m inclined to believe that the only disruption Richardson caused was to the gender binary.