On Being Passable

Many part-time girls, including myself, get very focused on the idea of passability. If I go out – will everyone know? Is the whole world staring at and judging me?

I’m in a weird in-between of what I’ll call “semi-passability”. I’ll always be supremely jealous of the gals born 5’7” with thin frames, or those who started transitioning early in their lives, who can be out on the street all day and barely get a second glance (or as much as any cute girl can get away without a second glance). I didn’t win the t-girl Powerball, will never experience life like that, and came to terms with that cold reality many years ago.

On the other hand, I didn’t completely lose the lottery either. I’m about average height around 5’10”, which is certainly tall for a girl, but not unheard of. I’m muscular, but relatively slender, and with attention to my hips, can make the proportions work with my shoulders. I got lucky on skin, face, body hair, and even hair hair. Things could be much worse.

I love dressing up, and when I go all in, I’m absolutely not passable. I wear six inch heels, bodycon dresses, tights, or thigh high socks, combined with elaborate hair and dramatic eyeliner. It’s all very feminine, except that no women in real life dress like that unless it’s at a nightclub in Ibiza. I draw attention, and it’s all just so suspicious that a lot of people come to see a drag queen, who, along with alternative models, are about the only other people out there who will my preferred height of platform shoe, but who are in their own boy-to-girl track parallel to mine.

Freyyj not passing
(Freyyj in fuck-everything-I'm-wearing-tall-heels-and-a-cute-dress mode.)

But luckily, women’s fashion (especially around here) is zeroing in on a singularity of pure informality, which happily, I kind of like. Any any given moment, half the girls on the street are wearing leggings (see athleisure), and as you’ll already know if you’ve ever read or seen anything I’ve ever posted, those happen to be a favorite of mine. It’s a happy advantage that they’re universally paired with running shoes, which don’t exacerbate my problem of Amazon warrior tallness. Things really could’ve gone the other way if girls had settled on popular fashion of sweat pants and corporate tees or something else equally bland. My crossdressing code of ethics wouldn’t allow me to wear that, so I’d be the only person out there still trying to make skirts and leggings work.

When blending with casualwear, I’m more passable by a good margin. It’s always hard to tell how well you’re pulling it off, but I don’t get too many weird looks, and for better or worse, a non-trivial number of guys try to start conversations with me if I’m by myself on the street. But that’s not to say I’m passing perfectly – anyone looking closely could tell that my hair is a little too big, or my hips are a little too round, or that I’m wearing more make up than any genetic girl does.

It’s really hard to tell how many people are noticing. I know that if I saw myself walking down the street, I’d be able to tell, but my gender sense is heightened to superpower level after so many years of thinking about boy-to-girl stuff. Most people probably aren’t so finely attuned. They’re also seeing you from a distance, and not as critical of every detail as you are on yourself, all of which helps.

Freyyj making more of an effort to pass
(Freyyj making a bit of an effort, wearing the normal uniform of about 95% of the women in the Bay Area.)

I should also note that I’m largely okay with not being completely passable. If I was choosing my perfect body in a character design screen, I’d give myself the obvious assets - nice legs, wide hips, luscious hair, and a narrow waist – but also subtly masculine. A little too tall for a girl, shoulders a little too broad, and a little too well-built. I know it doesn’t make sense because now neither men or women are attracted to me so I’ll be alone forever, but I like being a little in between.

Where I’d like to be is where I’m thinking about passability a lot less.

It’s important for safety reasons not to be making too much of a spectacle. It’s fine to wear dresses and high heels, but better to do so when out at a restaurant or shopping during daylight hours – not walking down the sidewalk in the evening. This is highly dependent on where you live too. I’m in San Francisco, which at this point has such bad vibes on the street that all women dress down. Things are probably different in London or Tokyo 1. In general, try to blend in with context-appropriate clothing.

But once you’ve got your bases covered, obsessing over whether you’re passing doesn’t help. Some people are going to notice, some people aren’t, and after you’ve put in your best effort and are out there, there’s not much you can do control it. Acting shifty and nervous will if anything, make it worse. Be out and be happy about it.

This is a bit of a prescriptive do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do philosophy because like I said, I’m still working on it. I start to relax 30 minutes or so into any given adventure, but before that I’m a ball of knotted anxiety.

I’m trying to Jedi mind trick myself: Having made the decision to go out, the ship’s left port. Most people aren’t going to notice. Among those who do, most people don’t care (or are even supportive!). Those who do don’t matter. Enjoy yourself. Be transcendent.

Do any of you other girls out there wrestle with this? What tricks do you use to talk yourself out of passing-mania? Soothing hymns? Vipassana meditation? Something else? :)

1 And unfortunately, there are still many parts of the world where you probably don’t want to be dressed in public at all.

October 22, 2020 (4 years ago) by Frey·ja