"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Monday 12 August 2019

If She Walks and Quacks Like a Duck, ...

For my non-trans friends who visit, a warning: this post is very definitely on a subject near and dear to our hearts: passing

I have heard stories that once upon a time, when a trans-woman attempted to do something about that "being stuck in a male body" problem, she was expected to take on a façade of ultra-femininity. On top of that, if she was attracted to women, not men, that was a sure sign that she was really a "he" and, well ... end of story. In other words, once upon a time someone like me was doomed to live her life as a man; which, by no coincidence, is what I did up until the world became a kinder more reasonable place, for people like me, quite recently.

Part of learning how to be a real man so very long ago had to do with how I naturally walked and moved. Around the age of ten, my grandfather took me aside and told me that I used my hands way too much. The same instruction session included, "Point your toes forward and take bigger steps. You look like a GIRL!"  Not coincidentally, from then on, my parents joined in - making fun of the kid who waves her (sorry, his) hands around when talking and walks like a girl. Before long, I was walking in a very manly way while holding my hands at my sides (with the exception of the times I was biting my nails down to the quick). 

Happily, I don't seem to have any trouble now with my walking style or use of my hands. Hormones have changed my balance for the better and surgery has definitely helped. 

So passing is not an issue, right? Well, my hair is too thin and looks awful, but what woman loves her hair at my age? The real thing about being me is - I'm not a girl, I am a woman - and a woman of a certain age, too. Being really attractive to others is not my goal. It makes me happy to be me - far from ultra-feminine. Looking around at other women my age, what do I see? It turns out that most of them put on little, if any, makeup and wear blue jeans most of the time, even in warm weather. So, should I dress like other women my age? Given that they look like women dressed that way, and I look like a man, that is a silly question and the answer is clearly no. If being like the other women my age isn't a good strategy, then what is? The answer to that sometimes gives me fits. I want others to see me, the way I am inside. 

Recently, the videos of Natalie Wynn - CONTRAPOINTS - have captured my attention. In one titled The Aesthetic, she has a discussion with a character of her invention she calls Tabby about the importance of appearance. The Cat Lady is giving off the vibe of a drag queen, but insists that she is a woman who has her own style; why should she fall into stereotype? Here is the sticky bit ... when someone calls you sir, should you get into an argument or fight with them, or should you realize that this has to do with how much effort you are giving to letting others know you are who you say you are? As usual, Natalie explains the issue much better than I, so have a look at the video if you have twenty minutes to spare.

Back to us - women who transitioned later in life. If dressing in blue jeans with no makeup is going to immediately clock me as a man, whereas wearing nail extensions, false eyelashes, mini-skirt, and sky-high heels is going to immediately clock me as a man, then where on the spectrum between should I be? The debate rages on in my head, along with a healthy dose of who am I dressing for anyway? and didn't this whole thing begin with abandoning a façade that was driving me crazy ... so why would I choose to create a new façade just to make others happy now?

At the moment, my choice is to dress in a way that makes me happy and then go a bit farther into femininity. A bit more makeup than I think, a frillier top, or a nicer skirt instead of slacks, or slacks that are sexier than I might think is right. In other words a balancing act; look good, but avoid having those who see me do a double-take. 

What matters more, the way things are, or the way things look?

Feel free to select captions in a language of your choice.. Blogger won't let me make a post with a full transcript of this video. 


  1. An interesting post. Of late, I have delving into Gnostic experience and the need to "individuate", as Jung would say. As I thought these matters over, I was more and more appalled at the degree to which pressure is applied to everyone to conform. These pressures come from all directions, and are at there most damaging when they come from family members. I suspect they are all based on ego-fear. Hopefully, Sophia will continue to shine her light of wisdom on this benighted species.

    1. Tom, it is a great that in spite of my warning, you dove in! So glad you did.

      Societal pressures are very generally applied - I wear a headscarf because my mother, grandmother and older sisters all wear one ... but those specific ones directed toward us as a critique of our individuality hurt the most. It is especially confusing when, as was the case for me, I was always told to not follow the crowd - be your own person.
      We could definitely use some divine intervention!

  2. we started this conversation over our brunch I think and you know the answer. passing is about feeling comfortable in our skin and radiating dignity for all to see. If we are taken for a man in a dress then so be it but at least we are happy. I don't worry about which gender I am perceived as but only strive to be read as a person you might want to get to know and is nice to others. Using that metric you fit the bill very nicely my dear friend :)

    1. As you know, I am a great subscriber to the when you get to know me, you won't have any doubt as to who I am school of thought. This post, however, is mostly to do with having the server at the gas station say ma'am instead of sir.
      I get it though, and if you think you can make me glow by telling me I am a good person and you can't get enough of my vibe, you are right! Right back at you Hon. ;)

  3. Joanna hit the right note with "only strive to be read as a person you might want to get to know and is nice to others".

    I have often encountered women who nature has cursed with a more masculine look than I had before hiding behind facial hair pre transition. My heart gets a crushing feeling knowing what they have had to go through all their lives, much as we have done prior to transition.

    The human race is a strange thing as different cultures force obligatory clothing rules whilst others cherish those of us who do not fit into a standard binary.

    If there really were a Goddess this would not have happened, well certainly as Goddess I would have done a better job with creation!

    1. Thoughts of how differently folks like us are treated around the world can make my head spin! Some women who have no rights at all are bewildered that we would actually choose to give up male privilege, while others who live where a third, fourth or fifth gender is accepted and encouraged as saying what are you going on about??
      As your spiritual twin, we would have to be a two-headed goddess ... and yes, the world would benefit greatly, no matter how scary that previous image might be. I'm starting to laugh uncontrollably imaging a fabulous goddess body with our heads up top. Fodder for a lovely chat later. xx

  4. Avoiding the tangent of two headed fantasies, l'd like to address tbe stipulated point of this post, that.....
    "This post, however, is mostly to do with having the server at the gas station say ma'am instead of sir."
    Halle goes on the describe her efforts to attain that perfect level of femininity.
    My thoughts are that as long as one is unable to dismiss that self image of "a man in a dress", that goal will not be easily attained.
    How one dresses does not a woman make.

    1. Years of testosterone poisoning does not a man make. Anyway, not sure if there is some special point in your comment. Try not to take comments out of context; up until yours, they were all from friends.

  5. My intent was to address some of your questions related to what you call "passing".
    EG: "What matters more, the way things are, or the way things look?"

    "So, should I dress like other women my age? Given that they look like women dressed that way, and I look like a man, that is a silly question and the answer is clearly no."
    Given that you have seemingly accepted the proposition that you cannot dress like other women your age because you will be perceived as a man, then you are left with that most difficult choice of either to, as some have suggested, simply accept that, or to do a very difficult and possibly painful assessment of just what it is that is causing you to be misgendered.
    I am not trying to be hurtful or unfriendly. I am just offering you the benefit of my experience as a "woman of a certain age" ��

    1. The final full paragraph pretty much told the story of how I'm eschewing the jeans and tee shirt look others my age seem to love (I never have like jeans, but my jean skirts are comfortable) and embracing a soft feminine look no matter what the occasion.
      Any suggestions are always welcome, especially from another woman of a certain age.