I used to work with a woman who taught a workshop she called The Art of Passing. She is a transgender woman who had spent the twenty years before I met her perfecting the art of passing as a woman in the world; walking, talking, moving, standing and gesturing like a woman. When I met her, I wondered if I would be able to understand her experience or she mine, as we had walked such different paths, but in knowing her I came to understand not only her struggles, but my own as well.
I knew what it was to feel the struggle of perfecting the Art of Passing; I have RP and I live in that purgatory of sight which forces you to choose between showing the world either a sighted or a blind person, because nobody can understand the state of being neither. When I was keeping my RP a secret, I learned how to scan a room with subtlety and move slowly as if it were intentional, part of my personality. When I did trip or bump into someone, I would laugh at my own clumsiness and say I had been that way forever. I wore my sunglasses like an appendage and was accused of being ” too cool”, but I would just smile and shrug and turn away. I told everyone that I had selflessly sold my car to help the environment and I just downright avoided any invitations to bars or darkened restaurants. I looked sighted and therefore I was sighted.
Now that I no longer keep my RP a secret, I realize how terribly exhausting it was trying to pass as sighted. It isn’t as if I wear a sign around my neck advertising my disease, but I also don’t try to hide it. I just let myself and my RP, be.