The Controversy Surrounding “Passing”

Passing is the holy grail for many trans people, the almighty goal that they seek through the trials of transitioning. It is defined by the LGBT Resource Center at the University of Southern California as “successfully being perceived as a member of your preferred gender regardless of actual birth sex”, but the concept of passing is accompanied by controversy. It requires trans people to fit into a rigidly structured binary and fulfill gender stereotypes they may not wish to conform to, but it can also improve quality of life and keep them safe under circumstances where not passing would put them at risk.

With both these arguments in mind, is the concept of passing helpful or harmful for the trans community?

The Future of the Capital Markets IndustryWith regards to the earlier question, there is no clear answer. The concept of passing will remain controversial, and it is up to the individual whether or not they want to pursue it. Therefore, it’s important to remember that your perspective on passing does not hold true for everyone and that there are very distinct arguments on both sides. Like so many issues, it’s not a matter of black and white. Do what makes you feel the most comfortable, and respect the decisions of the people around you.

Have something to add to the conversation? Need some advice? Leave a comment below or tweet us at @LGBTQ_of_FIRST


Inclusion in FIRST

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On May 20, 2017, STORM Robotics hosted its first annual FIRST Compass, an event where teams can give or watch presentations about different subjects in robotics. Representing LGBTQ+ of FIRST, Jaye and Sean presented this slide show to help teams in the MAR region and MAR itself learn how to be more inclusive to LGBTQ+ FIRST participants.

Since numerous teams seemed interested, LGBTQ+ of FIRST is sharing this presentation for all FIRSTers, especially those outside the MAR region and those who missed the event.

Every LGBTQ+ students deserves a welcoming and inclusive environment.

June 17, 2016 A Month Celebrating LGBT+ Pride

Ben Barres, formerly known as Barbara Barres, is a neurobiologist and a professor at Stanford University.

Born in 1955, he excelled in math and science at an early age. He attended MIT for his bachelor’s degree in Biology, Dartmouth for his medical degree, and Harvard for his PhD in Neurobiology. He transitioned in 1997. In 1993, he joined the faculty at Stanford. In 2008, he was appointed to the Chair of Neurobiology. His research is on the development and function of glial cells in the central nervous system.

His research and teaching has won him many awards, such as the Life Sciences Research Fellowship, the Klingenstein Fellowship Award, a McKnight Investigator Award, a Searle Scholar Award, and  the Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has published many articles on his research and sexism in STEM. He is member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 2013 he was elected to the US National Academy of Sciences, and was the first openly transgender member.

June 3, 2016 A Month Celebrating LGBT+ Pride

Laurence Michael Dillon, America’s first medically transitioned transgender man, was born as Laura Maud Dillon. He was born as a healthy baby in 1915, but assigned female at birth. His mother died of complications after birth and his father died when Dillon was nine.

Dillon was a smart young man, and before Oxford was opened to women, he was told to apply. At Oxford, in order to earn a full degree, he had to dress like a man.

It turns out that Dillon rather enjoyed dressing like a man, so he contacted a doctor who gave him testosterone pills. However, the doctor gossiped about him, causing his coworkers to find out about his assigned gender at birth and his transition. Dillon had to leave his job and move to escape the ridicule.

“In 1943, Dillon met a plastic surgeon, one of the first in Britain, who had studied with the man who apparently invented plastic surgery, Harold Gillies. Dr. Gillies invented his surgical techniques while working on men who had been disfigured in World War I, people who had been injured in accidents … and on a certain number of people who either had been born with ambiguous genitals, or wanted sex-reassignment surgery. His disciple wrote Dillon a note that enabled him to change the name and sex listed on his identity documents (possibly before any surgery had been carried out) and passed him on to Dr. Gillies, who performed several surgeries on his chest and genitals over a number of years.

In 1949 he became the proud new owner of an official penis.  Ironically, the main purpose of this organ was to allow him to pass in those “public” situations where men are gathered together in the nude or semi-nude.  It was not fully functional, and considering that men have a taboo against staring at each other’s equipment, one can’t help but wonder just how realistic it was. In any case, Dillon was happy.  Temporarily.” [x]

Dillon aided in the surgical transition of Roberta Cowell, Britain’s first transgender woman to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

After he tried to receive his inheritance, he became a public figure. This caused him great mental strife and he left the country, moving to India. In India, he wanted to improve his mental discipline and he studied the Buddhist doctrine. There he learned that those of the “third sex” were not allowed in a particular monastery. However, he continued his spiritual journey and passed away from malnutrition on May 15, 1962. He was only 47.

Dillon wrote two books, The Life of Milarepa, about a famous 11th Century Tibetan yogi, and Imji Getsul, a book about his life at the monastery. His struggles allowed for numerous scientific advances in transgender health.

-Staff: Sean R 5113

(For those who want to read his book, Imji Getsul)