Tuesday, January 27, 2009

got T-Dar?

Do you have T-Dar?

I do and if you are reading this blog, you probably have T-Dar, too.

T-Dar, short for trans-radar, is the ability to detect a trans-person when they are presenting in their non-birth gender. For example, you see a tall woman walking through the mall. Suddenly, your T-Dar kicks in and you begin looking for clues that the woman is actually a natal male presenting as a female.

No matter how good you think your T-Dar may be, you seldom have an opportunity to determine whether your T-Dar works correctly or not.

You can confront a suspected trans-person, but that can be disastrous, especially if you are wrong. Recently, I read about a trans-woman who encountered two tall women while shopping. Her T-Dar told her that the two women were trans and she confronted them by introducing herself as trans and saying something to the effect, "You're trans, too, aren't you?"

The two women reacted as if the trans-woman had just gotten off a spaceship from Uranus. They had no idea what she was talking about and when it became apparent to the trans-woman that she had erred, she wished that she was on Uranus.

And even if your T-Dar is correct confronting a suspected trans-person can be a sensitive matter.

Last time I attended First Event, I arrived at the hotel in boy mode and took the elevator to the floor where I could register for the event. The elevator stopped before reaching my destination and a trans-woman got on. I was 101% positive that she was trans and without thinking, I asked her if she was enjoying First Event.

She was taken aback by my query and seemed very uncomfortable. I immediately realized the error of my ways and explained to her that I was trans too, but having just arrived at the hotel, had not changed into girl mode yet. She seemed a little relieved, but I learned a lesson and would think twice before doing that again.

So it is probably best that using your T-Dar be a solitary thing. Keep your T-Dar findings to yourself unless, of course, you write a trans-blog, then you can publicize your T-Dar results. ("Yesterday, I saw a trans-woman in ladies' shoes at Macy's.")

I believe that most trans-people have T-Dar. It almost comes naturally because trans-people look for affirmation that there are other trans-people out there. What better way to affirm that then to actually see another trans-person in person? Seeking that affirmation, trans-people check out potential suspects wherever they go.

Even when my T-Dar determines that the six-foot woman walking through the mall is, in fact, a genetic female, it provides a different kind of affirmation. It affirms that there are genuine tall women out there and as a six-foot-plus trans-woman, it gives me encouragement to go out en femme and join the other tall women out there because I am not alone.


  1. First comment, but not my first read.
    I love your blog; you have great insight and I absolutely love the world from your view.
    T-dar. I have been having a bit of that at the office lately. A new sales agent at work has my sirens going off. The long hair-the hairless arms and the scruffy look. A lot of male trans that I've known seem to pay no mind to their appearance unless they are dressed in heels and lipstick. I want to ask but I know that I won't. I'll probably find a way to tell him that my boyfriend is a girl in pink sweatpants with "SPOILED" written on the back.

  2. Oh, yeah, I've got T-dar. I used to think of it as a software upgrade for gaydar, but it's based on a whole different set of cues.

  3. There's all sorts of radar, "Gaydar", "T-Dar" and who knows what else but let me tell you a story that doesn't haven't anything to do with "dar" but I was reminded of it with your story.

    Many years ago I was at college. The college I went to was not even in the state where I grew up. One day there I saw a girl I thought I recognized from my hometown. I didn't have the nerve to speak to her till one day I saw her walking across campus. I jumped in front of her and said "You're from Memphis, aren't you?" She said, "NO, I've never even been to Memphis." And ever since that incident, I've been reluctant to confront anybody in a like situation!

  4. The Crossdresser's Girlfriend --- Thank you for the kind words!

    My T-Dar always kicks in when I see a long-haired, clean shaven male and I start looking for other tell-tale signs: long nails, shaved arms, shaped/plucked eyebrows, etc.

  5. Jaye --- Yes, GayDar and T-Dar are very different, although they may be produced by the same manufacturer.

  6. Laurie --- Better safe than sorry!

  7. Since getting involved with a T-girl and her community, I've been trying to develop my T-dar, but I'm so often wrong, I don't trust it. Last night I was watching a movie "Edge of Heaven" and in the initial scene was convinced one of the characters was going to be revealed to be trans (based on her husky voice and buffed up shoulders/arms) but... she was a GG after all. In a bar recently I had an ongoing bet with my SO that a woman was a GG (based on her voice and thickness of hips/thighs) but my SO was convinced she was trans. In that case, I was right. When out with my SO, I occasionally catch strangers sizing ME up, and in fact recently was asked by a beautiful young transwoman if I had been "born a boy." It really made me chuckle. The fact is, none of us can know for sure, and most of us (especially as age androgynizes us) are accepted at "face value" as what we choose to present ourselves to be.

  8. Kate --- It is a lot of fun, though, trying to guess!

  9. Yes, it is fun, but it's more than that. Whether we are trans ourselves or partners of trans, we develop a kind of hyper-sensitivity to gender-markers, and we learn to question everything, and to take nothing for granted...

  10. I find it somewhat inspirational when I see a sister out and about. Confidently going through the normal routine, shopping, going to movies, whatever.

    I get the urge to approach them and let them know - but quickly think better of it. I'm not sure I'd appreciate some random guy 'reading' me and then approaching me about it...

  11. Katecazier --- Yes, "taking nothing for granted" is an important component of T-Dar

  12. Vanessa --- I definitely do not appreciate anyone informing me that I am a guy when I am en femme.

  13. This post reminds me of a scene in TRANSAMERICA where the Felicity Huffman character is at the TG support meeting in Dallas and comments to the host that one of them couldn't "pass" on a dark and stormy night, only to be informed that she is the beauty consultant and a genetic girl.