More On Passing

The subject of passing has been on my mind lately, and I hope that I don’t say anything here that offends anyone, which I really don’t intend. I’ll be the first to admit that I do not pass and that the standard that I hold for passing is pretty high – namely, if I’m out and I’m talking face to face to someone whom I’ve just met, what do they see? Do they see a woman, or a crossdresser, or are they not quite sure? I know from my own experience that when people talk to me they see a crossdresser, which obviously means I don’t pass. I’ve had people say things like, “Oh, at first I thought you were a real woman,” and things like that, but, yeah, when people interact with me I’m not fooling anyone. There are too many tell-tale signs – I’m six feet tall, have a low voice, big hands, wear heavy makeup to hide the beard, and have the muscles and tendons of a physically-active male. I’ve had people who have only seen my pictures online say that I most definitely pass, but pictures really don’t tell the full story – there’s no voice and no real-life 3D interaction. When I get together with other crossdressers, especially in TG support groups or get-togethers, I’ll sometimes hear, “Oh, no, honey, you pass great!” And I always think they must be on crack cocaine, but I’m nice and keep it to myself.

I’ve had other incidents – this actually happened about a year ago – where someone was trying to cheer up someone else and they turned to me and said, “Jane doesn’t think she passes. Tell her she’s wrong!” I think I must have had a deer in the headlights look, for I thought Jane’s assessment of the situation was pretty accurate.

Now I have to stress that there’s nothing wrong with not passing. Passing is way overblown in importance. As Lacey Leigh says in her book “Out and About…,” which I wrote about recently in an earlier post, it’s far more important to go out in the world with an air of self-respect and dignity, for generally people will mirror back at you whatever it is that you project. Sure, we would all love to pass brilliantly, but to be honest, I’d have to say I don’t really know any crossdressers (me included) that pass according to my criteria – talking face to face with someone we’ve just met. There are a few I can think of who come close some of the time, but I still think the question (Is she a tranny?) is going to be hanging in the air even for them. So for crossdressers, I’d say probably none of us really pass. There are always those times when it’s dark out and someone sees us at a distance getting out of our car and they might see a woman, although even that can be a pretty high hurdle to clear if someone’s really paying attention. Really though, if I’m going to pass I want to do it in face to face interactions. Nope, ain’t gonna happen.

As for transsexuals that live full-time, the discouraging thing is that there are lots of transsexuals who don’t do much better, although of course there is that small group of transsexuals who pull it off brilliantly – maybe 5 or 10 percent of them. Quite often the ones who pass effortlessly (and I know there’s nothing effortless about it at all!) transitioned when they were teenagers and some of them raise passing to an art form. It’s truly amazing, and always fills me with envy, when you meet a transsexual like this, where there’s not a hint of masculinity and where if you didn’t know otherwise, you would just think you were talking to a genetic woman – in fact the question of her being trans probably wouldn’t even cross your mind. As for living “stealth” – blending in seamlessly and keeping one’s trans identity hidden – some in the trans community criticize those TG women who do that, but if they can pull it off I say more power to them. And ironically, I’ve read other bloggers who have observed that sometimes transsexuals who pass really well aren’t necessarily that pretty, that their plainness can sometimes help them to blend in and appear like a woman whom you might walk by and not notice at Target. That’s not always the case, of course, as there are some stunning TS women who pass brilliantly but it’s an interesting observation.

Now I have a few friends who are transsexual and I hope they won’t hate me for saying all this. And I hope I don’t sound judgmental. I just know for myself that I don’t want to fall into that common trap of believing that, “Oh, yes, I pass one hundred percent.” I don’t, and I think some of the crossdressers who say that (I’ve certainly heard it more than once) are confusing looking nice with passing, or not being hassled with passing, or not drawing much attention to themselves as passing. Clearly none of those things constitute passing if the person who sees you still sees a crossdresser. Thankfully, most people aren’t going to hassle you or make a scene – and most people are generally too busy living their own lives that they really don’t care.

One thing to remember though is that those who don’t pass, and who go out and are seen – they’re the ones who will slowly make changes in society’s attitude towards crossdressers and TG people. Being out and visible in the world is what makes a difference, much like the progress that gays and lesbians have made for themselves simply by refusing to stay hidden. We still have a long way to go but tolerance will continue to increase for the various types of TG people out there.

So to wrap up this very long post – Am I just being a catty bitch for saying all this? I hope not. But like I say above, there does seem to be some self-delusion among some crossdressers and trans girls when you occasionally hear that, “Oh, I pass one hundred percent” comment. Like I say, I really would love to pass – it would be an incredible thrill! But I know my limitations. I do try to look as nice as I can, but again that’s not passing. I always say, heck, if there’s a doctor who can make me into a beautiful twenty-year old girl, I’ll sign up! I’ve certainly had thoughts of living full-time, although since a big part of my dressing is fueled by my sexual fetishism, I’m not sure that it would really be such a good idea. It would probably make it feel much more like a daily chore and much less fun, and it would certainly involve a two-hour preparation every morning to get ready and probably another hour and a half every evening for maintenance and pre-preparation for the next morning! I don’t think I could keep it up! And I really hope that as I get older I don’t reach the point that some CD’s come to, where the itch to live full-time is so strong that they can’t resist it. Some even decide to get the surgery when they’re far into middle-age, as the awareness of one’s mortality does have a way of making those things come to the fore. But to wrap this up, I think just going out and having fun and trying not to worry about passing so much really is the most sensible route to go, whether you just dress on the weekends or decide to go full-time. It really should be an enjoyable thing and not a test that leaves one feeling like a failure. Still, if you hear about that doctor, do let me know…

12 thoughts on “More On Passing”

  1. On your website most of us are into the subject of bondage and seeing a crossdresser in bondage is a thrill, especially when you or one of your beautiful friends are acting out a damsel-in-distress scene. You look beautiful in your pictures and short videos, but most of all it is your spirit, imagaination, and sharing your enjoyment to many of us, who can not indulge in these fetishes freaquently or at all. Thank you for entertaining us Sandra. You are beautiful inside and out.

  2. Sandra,

    The philosophy of “passing” seems to present the idea or implication that there is a “GOLD STANDARD” of femininity and womanliness to arrive at, live up to – or ‘dress up’ to. Maybe even “SILVER” and “BRONZE” standards too. I’m not so sure that there is such a thing even within the female ranks. How many times have we looked upon a woman and thought she was pretty and beautiful, VA-VA-VA-VOOM!!! only to hear another woman tear her down on some point of her looks and “presentation”.

    Also, I understand that trans-sexuals who try for sex reassignment surgery are asked to live as the opposite sex, in public and private, full time, for some period (like a year or more) before any surgery is performed. I wonder what standards or criteria they are asked to meet during this before-time. I don’t think they are being forced to present themselves falsely, but they are asked to dress as the target sex anyway, though they are not yet there. They’re not going to get demerits for not looking perfect, every day!!!

    Dim Bulb

  3. Excellent summary of the situation Sandra. How refreshing your gentle honesty is. How much pain is generated in this world by people accepting that completely unobtainable standards are worth pursuing (and I’m not just talking about “passing” here honey). As a famous person once said “the perfect is the enemy of the good”. All the best Veronica

  4. Sandra,
    no offense, but I reckon I’d present my own little point of view on the whole “passing” issue. As someone who’s been considering transitioning, and who’s been out and about in daily life dressed, I’ve found that, while my voice is a little too low, while my stride’s a little too long, and I’m a little too tall…

    It doesn’t really matter. Passing isn’t about looking like a beautiful woman (although that’s certainly a big part of it), it’s not about being perfect. It’s about attitude, and confidence. You walk down the street, head held high, and no one’s going to give you a second glance. If you put a little work into talking feminine, changing inflections, no one’s going to notice if your voice is a little too low. Maybe I just haven’t been called out yet, but I’m hoping that I can trust my friends to give me an honest answer when I ask them what they see when they look at me. And they do tell me, back when I first started, when I was nervous and was walking all delicate and looking about hoping no one would pick up on it, they saw a CD then.

    Now I go out to the grocery store, I go out to dinner, and I really don’t care what other people see and think, I just try and be who I am…and now they tell me they see a woman.

    Like you said, maybe I’ve been lucky and just haven’t been called out on it. But you know what? I’ve reached the point in my life where I don’t care if I do get called out. It’s the way I am. Take it or leave it – my friends have accepted it, and that’s all I need. That for me is “passing,” the point where you may not look perfectly like a woman, but you certainly feel like one, and you’ve accepted what you are, and the hell with what everyone else thinks.

    That isn’t to say I don’t put any effort into looking good, I do, but I find a lot of little things that women do, that define anyone you interact with as a woman, they come naturally. Little things, like the pitch of my voice, the gesturing. Really, when you talk to someone, what are the things that’ll tip you off? Is it what they look like, or is it the little quirks that distinguish women from men? You could have a woman with a short haircut and no makeup sitting in front of you, and you could be chatting about the weather and her hands would be all over the place. Or you could be talking to a wonderfully made-up CD, who sits perfectly still and talks in monotone about that wonderful movie you just saw. You sit there next to them, and you’ll immediately know what they are.

    I completely agree, what you consider “passing” is an art, one that very few, very fortunate few have mastered. But what I personally believe is that you don’t have to have perfect makeup on and look like the perfect woman with the perfect voice and perfect body when you go out and want to be believable. It’s a collection of little things, quirks that women have that differentiate them from men…and it’s one big thing, confidence.

    As long as you’re content with who you are, it shouldn’t matter what other people see.

    Just my own two cents…


  5. I pretty much agree when I put myself in your shoes…..which I have… least figuratively speaking. You do have a very high standard. If I held myself to that standard, I’d never make it out in public.

    I realized years ago that my crossdressing was very dissatisfying because no one could see me. I finally resigned myself to wearing a wig and makeup because only then, could I venture out in skirt, hose and heels and not cause a riot!

    As you said, we have so many mannerisms, our build, appearance, voice, etc. that give us away. A tranny friend of mine once wrote, there’s passing….and then there’s trying to pass at the McDonalds on the Indian Nation Turnpike where you may be standing in line for 15 minutes!

    I once went into a Tetco for coffee and the lady there and I struck up a conversation. When it became obvious that she knew I was a transvestite, I asked if it was my height, my shoulders or my hands that gave me away, and she said it was my voice.

    I actually felt pretty good, because that’s one thing I have yet to perfect. I was also told by a friend once that after I made a trip into WalMart en femme, her co-workers were talking about me later, and the discussion was “should we say ma’am or sir”, etc.

    She told me that they all knew I was a transvestite, BUT they liked my outfit and thought that I looked very nice anyway.

    So I would equate passing to making a 70 on a test. It’s far from perfect, but at the same time, we’re not talking about sliding under the radar all the way, we’re talking about “getting by”.

    I’d love to have people think I’m really a woman, but if wearing a wig and makeup, fingernail polish, etc. allows me to venture out in public and make it back home without being tied to the bumper of a pickup and dragged down the street…..I’m happy.

  6. I do love the story about “tell Jane she’s wrong”. I was at Station Four in Dallas one night and there was a “tragic-looking” crossdresser in there. She had a short curly wig that was very unnatural looking, a rumpled looking black leather skirt that hung on bony hip with muscular calves and her face looked like Claude Akins in drag. She didn’t even bother to put on makeup at all. I just wondered what she was thinking.

    And my biggest advice of all to tranvestites and crossdressers: SMILE!!!!! for pete’s sake, I can’t tell you how many pictures I see of droopy-faced men in wigs. At least act like you enjoy what you’re doing!

    By the way, Merry Christmas Sandra. I so enjoy reading your blogs.

  7. This subject is an interesting one to me and I promise I’ll shut up after I’ve shared one more thought. I once said:

    “There are so many ugly women in the world….why should the public get upset if a few men want to dress up like women and try to look pretty!?”

    Who knows, maybe in future generations, it will be acceptable for men who want to live and dress as women to do so, just as women like to wear jeans and boots and do men’s jobs.

    Someday down the line, maybe there will be male office workers, teachers and other professionals who can identify as women and come to the office everyday in wig, makeup, skirt, hose and heels!

    Maybe some of these gender-benders will have spouses who work dangerous jobs once held by men, and the husband will be the feminine one who has dinner on the table when she comes home!

  8. Ive wanted to live my life as a female ever since i could remember,ever since i was young. But its slowly dawning on me,that i probably will not pass fully. That’s the thing though,a part of me still thinks I will ;) and thats the part of me that doesn’t give in to gender stereotypes. Just because i was born a guy doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try my best to look my best. People see different things. I’m really tall to but that means i have great legs,im slender and have pianist hands =) So as long as we accept we are not perfect (who is) the sky is the limit. Beethoven once said something along the lines that Music is 80% work and 20% talent.(i think it was something like that) So is everything else ! its all work! Woman have to work hard to look good to:P Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance

  9. Hey Gurl, it’s “EDIE”. After reading your blog, It put me in mind of my own situation. At 72 years young, I can no longer “PASS”, and although it is still in my heart, dressing has become a thing of the past for me. Now, I simply practice my bondage rigging, and give support to any t-gurls I come into contact with. You are certainly an ICON.
    You make your six foot seem like a very natural thing. You even wear the six inch platform shoes. Your make up is impeccable, and any wig you choose always seems to fit the situation. With my foot fetish, I have seen none better than your feet in stockings (and rope). Your wardrobe is an inspiration to us all.

    Finally, who is better at giving an opinion than you??? I will listen any time you speak. That is……unless you have a ball gag in your lovely mouth.. L.O.L.


  10. Great post Sandra – really encapsulates how i feel as well.

    I’m 7 foot in my heels and used to never want to go out, but slowly my increase in age has meant an increase in confidence to the point where at the age of 37 i finally stood (very!) tall and proud in my first (admitedly gay) public bar. The feeling was amazing – no one minded that i was a tv and to be honest i loved the fact that people noticed me and admired my dress sense. If only i’d known this earlier in life ! Although to be fair it’s only recently attitutudes in the uk have become more liberal towards tv’s so perhaps the time is now to be coming out and making what we do more public and acceptable.

    The other comment i’d add is i’m now becoming more and more amused by the number of women i see wearing outfits that previously i’d have said only a crossdresser/tv would dare wear. Lady Gaga is a great example but there are plenty more out there – long live the outlandishly dressed high heeled glamour queens of the world !

    Keep up the good work (and glad i discovered your blog)


  11. Hi Sandra, Great blog post. Just wanted to raise one other issue. Most genetic gals don’t seem to want to dress the way most crossdressers want to dress (especially in everyday situations). I think it can make it harder, or less fun, to try to pass because almost anyone wearing skirt and heels will tend to stand out in public these days.

    Quick story – I was at Subway getting lunch last week and a nice looking younger girl came in right behind me. She was on the tall side, good shape, nice face but certainly not super-pretty. However, she was wearing a very clingy sweater, a straight skirt (above the knee length), hose and heels (probably 1.5 or 2″). The people in the Subway were almost all guys and let me tell you, I saw all eyes locked on this poor girl! Although it was a simple outfit, she looked really sexy and I think the guys are starved for seeing a woman dressed as a woman!

    I hate to think how I would have felt if that were me, dressed the way she was, getting lunch at Subway. Not sure I could take the attention, however, the whole point (for me) to dressing is lost if I can’t wear a skirt, heels & hose, etc. Of course, this was lunchtime at Subway and not nighttime at a club. So another question is where and when you want to go out.

  12. Hi Sandra,

    You told it very nicely and exactly right. and you must keep repeating it again and again. I go out in public all the time and never had a problem. BTW, I also go shopping both ways so don’t be a sissy. I don’t have a scintilla of doubt that I do not pass. The best I can do and what I strive for is not to be noticed. That’s not to say I don’t try to be attractive and dress nicely, although dress appropriately would be more accurate. The more attention you attract, the faster you are read. I’ve had girls and women come up to me and say that I look marvelous, without hostility. They knew what I was. My best (and worst) time was waiting on line for the ladies room at a posh hotel with super security. It was not by choice I was on that line but luckily all the ladies were also concerned with getting their turn and I was done up so appropriately that I BLENDED perfectly. I still did NOT pass. That’s enough for me and should be the goal of us all instead of torturing or deluding ourselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *