Monday, June 12, 2017

A Passing Interest

Most transpeople have an opinion on passing and seem to be in one of two camps on the subject.

One camp feels that passing is overrated and not important, while the other camp feels that passing is a goal that they work to achieve. I am in the latter camp and along with Faith DaBrooke of Adventures of a Gender Rebel fame. Her recent podcast about passing is a must-hear on the subject.

One of my favorite passing stories occurred about ten years ago when I was doing outreach at Southern Connecticut State University. I started the day in 3-1/2-inch stilettos, but just in case, I brought a pair of flats that I left in the car.

After shopping at the mall before outreach and going to the first of two classes to do outreach, my 3-1/2-inch stilettos had to go, so I went to the car to fetch my more comfortable shoes.

As I walked through the parking lot, I saw a university dump truck parked right in front of the car. The driver was talking with another university employee standing next to the truck. Oh, damn, just what I needed: the classic trans-woman nightmare, a Transwoman Vs. Macho Guy face-off!

I was ready for the worst! Making a beeline for the car, I tried to ignore the guys, but the guy standing by the side of the truck greeted me with a very flirtatious, "Good afternoon," while the guy in the truck smiled appreciatively and drove away.

They flirted with me! Wow – that was an affirming moment!

I switched shoes and went to the student center to eat lunch, but I was unsure where it was located. I got lost fast, so I asked a couple – girl and guy students – for directions. The guy was really helpful. He dumped the girl and walked with me down a long sidewalk to a place where I could actually see the student center.

My success at passing was amazing that day especially since I thought that I didn't think I look my best! But did I really pass or were the people I encountered just being very respectful of a person showing a lot of diversity?

I have no doubt that I passed with the university workers. If they knew I was a guy, I don't think they would have flirted with me.

I probably also passed with the male student who gave me directions. He was just a little bit too solicitous dumping the young girl student to help out the older woman on campus.

Needless to say, I was very pleased.

Source Intermix
Wearing T By Alexander Wang dress, Sergio Rossi sandals and Valentino bag (Source Intermix)

Crowning the winner in the 1970 womanless beauty pageant at Southside High School in Florence, S.C. (Source: Starla)
Crowning the winner in the 1970 womanless pageant at Southside High School in Florence, S.C. (Source: Starla)


  1. Catherine SmithJune 12, 2017

    Well - there’s only one way to find out if you passed when you think you did. At the end of the encounter, go back and say, “I am a man who would like to be a woman. Did you think I am a woman or a man dressed as a woman?”
    It really depends on the evidence or what signals you are giving out to suggest one-way or the other. Being tall isn’t necessarily a give-away - on its own - as there are tall women. Having a husky voice on its own, or large hands, or muscly legs, or having little natural head hair, or hairy legs/armpits/face are not ON THEIR OWN indications that you are not female. A combination of several of these attributes, however, increases the possibility. In a strange way having a beard may not be so confirmatory. In Europe we have an annual Song Contest between nations, which in 2014 was won by Conchita Wurst who had the appearance of a woman with a beard. Everything else about her was SO feminine that you could become sympathetic and convince yourself that the poor woman just has an abundance of facial hair and decided to live with it: ‘She’ also has lovely teeth which I mention here because so often many of us look lovely until we show our gnashers. If that’s you then perhaps you should think of spending some money and time at the dentist instead of filling your female wardrobe with more things you will only wear once.
    A more certain way to ‘not pass’ are things like your body language, mannerisms, the tone of your voice and the manner of your speaking. High on the list of give-aways is probably lack of confidence when you might as well wear a sign on your forehead saying “I am really a man”.

    1. I did go back, found the guys and told them the truth, but they did not believe me and insisted that I was a woman.

  2. Catherine Smith.June 12, 2017

    Oh really? Reading the last four paragraphs of your article you come across still of the opinion that you are not sure whether you 'passed' with them or not. Had you gone back later on and asked them you would have said so in your article, so why are you now saying that you - "...did go back, found the guys and told them the truth, but they did not believe me and insisted that I was a woman". Sounds a bit far fetched to me and you are making it all up! Dream as much as you like but be mindful of the honesty with which you relate your exploits to your readers.

    1. Of course, I did not go back! Are you out off your freaking mind to even suggest that as an option?

    2. Catherine Smith.June 13, 2017

      Are you OK?
      The last few paragraphs in your story do not give the impression that you went back.
      Your reply above is: "I did go back, found the guys and told them the truth, but they did not believe me and insisted that I was a woman".
      Now you say: "Of course, I did not go back!"
      That is all I am pointing out - an inconsistency in your telling of how it was. Not how you perhaps imagined it or would like it to be.
      Regards, Catherine.

  3. AnonymousJune 13, 2017

    I did go to a jazz restaurant with my partner in a hotel both dressed to the nines black hose high heels gorgeous dresses and as we exited the elevator into the bar area a guys voice shouted 'wow ladies'
    We quickly scurried to our table but what a conpliment i loved it
    Regards Nadia x


  4. First, the winner of the 1970 woman less contest in SC-- Not a civilian

    One of my most confirming stories, was when wig shopping outside of Phily, I was in one of those urban wig beauty stores that have a lot of hair, beauty products and dare I say cheap wigs.

    I was in the chair trying on wigs and wa taking wigs on and off, I ask the clerk, "Do you get many other men, buying wigs"

    She seem genuinely confused "What do you mean other men?"

    Her face registered true surprised when I revealed that I was trans,
    The best I could tell she was not placating me. She truly thought I was a woman.

    Still remember that day!


    I happen to notice a great article by a beautiful woman in a one of the worlds leading transgender blogs about passing.


  5. I recently addressed this topic in my blog ( talking about the different meaning passing has for a transgender person than for a cross dresser.

  6. I never get myself together each morning with the thought I must pass as a woman to everyone I come across throughout the day. To some, I'm sure I do, but it doesn't affect me anymore. What I do is to make my appearance good enough to pass muster. The rest of it is in my self-confidence, and any compliments I may receive are just icing on the cake.

    I would never go back and tell anyone the "truth." They couldn't handle the truth, anyway!

  7. Thanks for the shout out! Don't you love those little passing moments? They're the best! Also yeah, I totally feel your nervousness around macho blue collar guy types.