Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Miss-Representing Ourselves

By Sally Stone, Contributing Editor

There was a time when concerns about what people were thinking of me made my forays into the outside world terrifying and often, debilitatingly stressful. My concerns were based primarily upon the fear that I couldn't pass. I’ve long since overcome that fear and I no longer care that my birth gender is usually obvious. Still I wonder sometimes what the people I meet are thinking.

Generally my interactions with others when I am presenting in my feminine persona are extremely positive. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I had an ugly encounter. People appear to accept my presentation and quite often, they actually reinforce that acceptance with verbal approval.

Take a recent shopping trip as an example. I was in a downtown department store searching for a skirt when a sales associate approached to ask if she could assist me. I told her I was looking for a very specific style of denim skirt. She was only too happy to assist me in my search and then, while we were together, she told me I was beautiful and that she loved my hair. Who wouldn’t be flattered?

What was she thinking though, as she made small talk with me? Obviously, she recognized right away that I wasn't a genetic female, but did she think of me as a man dressed in woman’s clothing or did she consider me a transwoman? Was it actually possible that she recognized me the way I think of myself, a part-time woman?

I can’t know for certain, but I sense that most people who interact with me just assume I have transitioned or am in the process of transitioning. I believe that most cis people have been conditioned by current events to assume anyone who dresses like a woman wants to be a woman full-time. I suspect most don't realize there are girls like me, girls who are decidedly different.

Of course, in the grand scheme of life, it really doesn’t matter what people think about my feminine appearance, but somehow, I have always felt I’m being deceptive by not mentioning that I am different from the transwomen in the public spotlight and that my reason for presenting feminine is not the same as theirs.

Would they think of me differently if they knew I was only a part-time woman? Would their acceptance of me change? When it comes to a casual acquaintance like the sales associate I mentioned above, it would be awkward to broach the subject of my presentation motives. Still, I wonder if I’m misrepresenting myself and passing up an opportunity for additional trans outreach.

Perhaps the cis community should know that not all transwoman are like those in the public eye. Maybe I should make it known that there are many of us who consider our gender to be fluid, so we choose to express our feminine persona occasionally.

I dare say that introducing the gender fluid concept to many cis people would certainly complicate the trans narrative they have grown accustomed to understanding. Maybe I’m so well received because people assume I am a “typical” transwoman and they are comfortable with that familiar concept. I can’t help but wonder if people knew my true trans nature would it change their opinion of my feminine persona.

So, I have to ask myself, am I enjoying such broad acceptance because those I meet are assuming they understand my “trans-ness," which somehow makes them okay with it? Ultimately, I probably won’t know how much of this is true unless I ask someone, but that doesn’t seems like a very likely conversation for a casual encounter. Perhaps the opportunity to have this conversation will arise in the future, but for now I will continue to happily accept the fact that I’m accepted as a transwoman no matter the reason.

Source: JustFab
Wearing JustFab

Amanda Winters
Amanda Winters


  1. Stana -

    I'm not certain what others think of us while presenting as female. I recently came back from a cruise, and my cruise companion told me that she didn't see anyone look at me strangely, or treat me as anything other than a cisgender female. Depending on your presentation and voice, I see little reason why you wouldn't blend in with all the other females.


  2. All that any of us wants in life is a little mercy, and the grace to be accepted as we are, without negative judgement.

    I do reserve the right to negatively judge racists and misogynists, and xenophobes. I do not have to listen to their poison. I wish that I had the courage to call them out to their faces, but I am a coward, and usually just walk away.

  3. Times and perception have changed
    In the last few years, transgender people have become more visible.
    Prior to 2015 when things tipped to transgender awareness.
    I would go out and I felt that people were likely to see me as a cisgender woman.
    Transgender wasn’t on their radar, and they would just assume that I was a tall over-dressed lady.
    I looked to authentic to be the typical guy in drag and the idea that I was a transgender woman was not something people considered.
    Today I am treated with the same respect how ever I believe they quickly see me as a transgender woman and treat me as woman.
    Has anyone noticed this or felt that way?????

    1. Which begs the question, how do you know they see you as a transwoman?

  4. I agree with the other comment. If you are presenting as a female and your entire being is female people just assume you have been through the change. Many years of dressing out in public gives you a confidence and ease in your female persona. I have found the same - I revert to a different person when dressed as Diana - I become a woman not only in a visual sense( I dress well to suit the occassion) but also in my movements and actions. Its hard to explain to anyone unless they see it happen. In the current climate it is great that the public are much more accepting. If they have accepted and treated me as awoman dont care if they think I am a real woman , a transwoman or crossdresser. I am happy. Like Stana I am only a part time woman with a wife.

  5. Over the years when Mikki looked in the mirror I've seen a man in a dress. Granted, I've improved a bit over the years so I don't look like a buffalo in a dress, but that man is still obviously there. I went to a true makeover artist and what I saw was a man with really good makeup in the mirror.

    I sat out for a while and wrapped my head around the issue of my presentation. How important is it to me that Mikki gets out and about? Is my "male in a dress" presentation going to keep me indoors, or only outside after dark to go to select locations? I backed off again, but was unhappy about it. So I went for it.

    I didn't get into a full dress version of myself, rather I wore women's casual clothing -- but obviously women's clothing. Nobody noticed as far as I could tell. So I started wearing a bra and now people could see (if they bothered to look) that I have breasts. Still no comments or obvious "gawks". I started wearing my hair down rather than back in my usual ponytail. I wear women's flats pretty much all the time. If someone looked at my women's shoes they would see I'm also wearing nylons. Every now and then I color my brows, wear mascara and nude lipstick. So far, so good. I finally figured, "They don't know me and I don't know them", and there's been so much drag on TV and so many of us are out with their transitions that it not that much of a big deal any more. Plus, I'm in Baltimore, not some small town where everyone knows your "bizness". It's a lot easies to be "invisible" in a crowd! My need to let Mikki be out and about turned out to be much stronger than I had thought, and having her live more openly has made my life fuller and complete.

    I'm so happy Stana has kept Femulate going so we can help each other be "complete" and live our lives to their fullest. And my thanks to all the other contributors who share their stories. I'm sure I'm not the only lady here who gains knowledge, perspective and validation from you all. Thank you.

  6. This concern is the one most often discussed at our SUPPORT GROUP MEETINGS. (Carolina Transgender Society)
    I recommend you 'live in the moment' and ENJOY YOURSELF rather than constantly fret, and concern yourself with what others may observe about you.

    The behavioral paradox is that most all persons are so self involved in their own selves (and neurosis), that they spend little time involved with thinking about you.
    I have offered these links (below) many times; both deal with this same issue, but each in a unique way.
    Cis women have learned ages ago to ALWAYS 'tune out' or 'stare through' the unwanted, overly observant eyes (leers)of men.
    YOU need to do same.




    1. Here is another link to similar thinking strategy.


  7. Well, I don’t know the answer to this question. When I am out and about (especially with my wife) I’m treated just like any other woman. If someone thinks I’m trans, that’s fine, but I’m not aware of this. Inside I consider myself female, and maybe that is reflected on the outside. What is the old Latin saying – “Puto, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am.) To echo several of the comments above: Let’s just enjoy being us!

  8. Kandi RobbinsOctober 09, 2019

    Sally, I too have received almost complete acceptance when out and dressed and believe me, no one things I am an actual woman. But I attribute it to three things: I am smart about when and where I go, I am dressed appropriately for my circumstance, my age and my body type and finally, I am supremely confident.
    Confidence, in life, gives a long way toward selling anything and in this case, I am "selling" myself to the world as a woman. Finally, my experience is also that we all tend to overthink all of this. When I am out, I am simply a stylish human being, interacting with society.

  9. I think that for the most part most folks "Frankly, don't give a dam". Few, if any, outside our community are likely to car whether the large person dressed and presenting as a woman is transgender, a guy in a dress or a part time woman.
    A few years ago most of my outings were to LGBT establishments. I figured it would be safe and I would find acceptance and that was the case. Over time I made some good friends just sitting around having a drink. I was struck as to how little understanding that gay men and woman had of folks like me, a happily married, heterosexual cross dresser. Many assumed that since I liked to dress as a woman that I was gay. I had some nice and enlightening conversations.

    1. Pat, I always enjoy going to the "safe" environment of an LGBTQ establishment. Before i was dressing out of the house I frequented these clubs to go to Drag shows.I'd get "probed" on occasion, but the "gaydar" picked me up as straight. When I started going out as Mikki I went to the same type clubs for the Drag and to be in a safe environment. Back then I described my makeup as being put on with a paint roller. Occasionally I got some attention from a generous Drag Queen helping repair my makeup,

      As I grew older, got a bit better with makeup and got into my "what the hell" attitude, I venture out more often and chat people up more often. I found, like you, that the people in these clubs didn't know much about us and were often interested in knowing more. In addition to interesting conversations, apparently I'm an old "cutie" (I'm 78 and still have nice long hair)that folks "adopt" for the night. The last four nights out either gay couples or a table of people, some gay, some not,at a recent Baltimore Pride kickoff evening have latched onto me and treated me like an "old auntie". Since I present as a man in a dress, they don't bother to use their "gaydar" at all and just accept me as I am. What a nice confidence builder!

  10. I've often said that if Meg could have a superpower, it would be to read people's minds. Not all the time ~ just for the first few seconds of our first encounter.

    Once, I had my makeup redone at a department store cosmetic counter. During her artistry, I said something like "do you get a lot of women like me here?" and she just acted confused and said "women like you?" OK... no way I am passing when I'm that up-close-and-personal, and I just wanted to hug her.

  11. A really interesting and thought-provoking post Stana. Thank you.
    I've only been out and actually met and talked to people as Susie in the six months or so (it's never to late, even if it took 50 years to get to get there). And while I don't think I pass, I was hugely reassured to discover that people are quite willing to take me as I present. It's still a bit new so there's still a little buzz of pleasure when I am referred to as "this lady" (when I dropped into a craft fair at a local church). Perhaps they are secretly feeling a bit virtuous about their accepting of 'transness' in their community (I'm not sure I would welcome CallMeMeg's mind-reading superpower to find out - especially if their first thought is not so much 'Are you a man?' as 'That shade of blusher really doesn't suit you dear') but that hour of being accepted as yet another woman-of-a-certain-age discussing home made cakes, plant cuttings and raffle tickets made my day, week and the most of rest of the month. True, no one complimented me on my hair or choice of outfit: I had dressed down in jeans and sensible flat shoes, which was probably partly why I felt comfortable and relaxed and maybe that's all the magic touch that was needed.