Blogger’s Note: I am so busy with the election today that I do not have time to post anything new, so I am rerunning the following post from November 2008. Since it is four years old, you may have missed it the first time and despite that I think that the words are still applicable today.
“Passing, in regard to gender identity, refers to a person's ability to be accepted or regarded as a member of the sex or gender with which they identify, or with which they physically present.” (from Wikipedia)
I like to think that I pass. Just today, I received an e-mail from a dear friend who wrote, "You pass so well."
But who am I kidding?
I am six feet, two inches tall (or a more dainty five feet, 14 inches tall) and I always wear heels of some height when I am out en femme (OEF). There are not too many women out there who are six-feet-two. (I list the famous ones here.) So, when I am OEF, my height is my biggest giveaway.
I can hear some of you saying to yourself, "Well, Girl, don't wear heels, then you will be shorter."
My response to that is even without heels, my height is still my biggest giveaway and adding three or four inches will not make much difference.
Last Friday at the mall, I passed some of the time.
While I was walking through the mall, I passed a few women walking in the opposite direction, who looked me in the eye and smiled. Of course, I returned the smile. When a woman smiles at another woman, it is a sign of camaraderie, so when a woman smiles at you when you are OEF, it is a good sign that they have accepted you into the club.
On the other hand, I have also passed women in the mall, whose smiles indicate that they have read me as a male. Their smiles (or smirks) indicate that they are mildly amused by my attempt to pass. Go OEF for awhile and you will begin to recognize the difference between smirks and genuine smiles.
At the mall last Friday, there were times when I did not pass.
For example, the saleswoman at Sephora referred to me as "he," then quickly corrected herself and referred to me as "she." I was not offended. When you are up close in another person's face, as when you are dealing with a salesperson, it is more difficult to pass because they are concentrating on you and therefore, are more likely to pick up telltale signs that you are male.
I have gone OEF enough to resign myself to the fact that sometimes I pass and sometimes I do not pass. There is not much I can do about my ability to pass because I believe I have pushed the envelope about as far as I can to emulate a woman without undergoing surgery.
Admittedly, my ultimate goal is to be passable, but since that is not always possible, I always try to make myself look presentable. If I present as the best woman I can be, then I will be less likely to attract attention and will blend in with the real women out there.
On the other hand, if I go to the mall wearing my highest heels, shortest skirt, largest breasts, biggest hair, and thickest makeup, I am going to attract a lot of attention. Dressed so, more people will check me out and thus increase the chances that people will recognize my birth gender.
So, I try to present myself as a real woman would present herself in a similar situation. Last Friday, I even wore dress slacks instead of a skirt in order to be more presentable and I believe that helped.
While I was at Sephora perched on the makeover seat at the front of the store, I did attract the attention of a lot of passerbys, but none of them gave any indication that they recognized me as a male. All they saw was a woman getting a makeover, so they gave me an interested passing glance and went on their way.
It probably helped that I was seated, so that my height was hidden, but I think more important was the fact that I looked presentable in that situation. I really looked like a woman who had been shopping in the mall and stopped at Sephora for a makeover.
One more thing: if you are presentable, other people are more likely to respect you and treat you like a lady even if they know you are not really a lady. If I dress like a teen queen, I am not going to get much respect, but if I dress like a middle-aged woman (with impeccable taste, by the way), I have found that I get respect because I am trying to be a female clone, not a clown.
So, the bottom line is that, of course, you want to be passable, but before you can be passable, you must be presentable. And once you hone your presentation, you may or may not pass, but at least you know you did your best come what may.