Why Passing Matters

Apologies for the clickbait title, but let’s be real: this topic remains a preoccupation for most non-cis-gendered folk whenever leaving the house is a consideration. The prevailing wisdom these days generally stresses the importance of “you doing you” and not giving a rat’s ass what the rest of the world thinks…easier said than done, I say.

I hear and understand all the arguments for just getting your girl on and getting out of the house, as I’m sure many of us do, and I’ve tried valiantly to steel myself for anything. But the fact remains that when I walk out that door, I want the world to see me as female. Indulge me here for a moment while my inner psyche spills her thoughts out onto the page to explore this phenomenon with a tad more depth.

First and foremost, my perspective is based on the fact that I’ve only recently started going out as Lexi in broad daylight – shopping, to the library, whatever. Largely, I found the courage to attempt this because local indoor mask mandates give me an extra layer of “protection” from suspicion. Of course, this feeds directly into my need to pass as female. So the question remains – why does it matter? For some, it’s fear of physical harm – that being recognized as a genetic male in female attire will lead to violence. And though this is absolutely a concern, my sense is that the risk of coming to physical harm, if one is careful, is perhaps not as great as one might fear.

En Femme Style

A very common fear is just a general embarrassment. Typically, this is where the advice to just not worry about what people think comes into play. People may recognize you, most likely won’t say anything though, and as long as you’re feeling confident, who cares what other people think? Let them think whatever they want, you’re fabulous!

And yet…and yet…I still care if I pass as female. In the handful of times I’ve been out, I’ve been misgendered (based on how I felt I was presenting) twice. I’m not going to lie, it stung. Not because I was embarrassed (I wasn’t, really), and not because I was scared (just a store clerk, both times, who were probably more confused than anything). It stung because I put a lot of time and effort into trying to put forth the most convincing female image possible.

If I didn’t care what the world thought, I would just stay indoors, where I can take pictures and pose in front of the mirror, content in my own little fantasy world. Why take the risk otherwise? But inevitably, the better and more confident I feel in my look, the more overwhelming the urge to get out and be seen. At a certain point, if it’s practical, leaving the house is almost a foregone conclusion. So after all this effort and build-up, you’re out there in the real world, being the woman you want to be, and some idiot calls you “sir.” How can that not be a buzzkill?

In the grand scheme of things, if the worst thing that happens is someone slips up because your gender presentation confuses them, we should be grateful. Many have had to deal with far worse consequences. But there’s no substitute for the validating euphoria of being acknowledged as female. On my most recent outing, I crossed the parking lot of the local strip mall and was addressed as “ma’am” by the solicitor trying to sell candy bars outside the Gap Outlet – something that under normal circumstances would irritate me instead became a wonderful, affirming experience. One simple word was all it took.

Does passing as a female in public matter? When all is said and done, I submit that it’s up to the individual. In reality, for many non-gender-conforming individuals, it may not matter at all. But it does to me because this is how I want the world to see me. However, I am a realist and acknowledging the likelihood that I may be read as a genetic male will always be there. For me, that simply means that even though I may not always “pass”, I won’t let that be a deterrent from exploring the world in my chosen gender.

Ultimately, when I’m out in public, and I catch a glimpse in a mirror, if I see the woman I know I am reflected there, then that will have to be enough. I know that I can’t control how the world sees me, but that doesn’t change how I want to be seen.

How you want to be seen does matter. Just don’t let the fact that others may not see you that way deter you either. You are beautiful.

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Lifelong crossdresser who is finally accepting that the urge to crossdress stems from a desire to present as female. I've resisted this path for far too long, always trying to convince myself that I just do this for the sexual thrill, or that I like just being a guy with a "hobby," but now I know that isn't true. When I look in the mirror, I want to like what I see, and that only happens when I see a woman looking back at me. This is a very recent revelation for me, and I'm not really sure what it even means (or will mean yet), but I'm hoping to start figuring that out. Definitely still more questions than answers at this point.

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Dana Munson
Member
Dana Munson(@misstranslation)
4 months ago

Hi Alexis (and all)! I have been transitioning for all of three months now. Living 24/7 as Dana. On blockers presently, have dropped 20 pounds, orchi tentatively in the works for early next year, name/gender change petition filed in court and effective (barring catastrophe) on Oct. 7. Safe to say that I am in this thing for the long haul, and NOT simply as a crossdresser or some other “feminine male” type. “Passing”? Yeah, it’s important, if one assumes that “not passing” means all sorts of unpleasant things coming your way. That likelihood probably varies from place to place.The gold… Read more »

mat tj
mat tj(@matti24)
11 months ago

hi bb

SassyCassie
SassyCassie(@sassycassie)
11 months ago

Hey I read your article with great interest. I am 8 months into my transitioning and really struggling with the whole ‘passing’ issue. In turn its made my anxiety really bad, to the stage I have an eating disorder and hardly leave the house. I KNOW I am female but all I see is a male face in the mirror. I literally live behind my covid mask. Even if someone comes to my house I won’t open the door without putting my mask on. Here in the UK you still have to wear masks in public but that’s soon going… Read more »

Patricia Allen
Member
Patricia Allen(@patriciamarie)
1 year ago

Passing is a losing game. However, a big part of passing is inside you. Not in the outfit your wearing, not in the hairstyle you’re sporting nor in the immaculate make up you have applied. It’s in the ability to look and feel like you belong where ever you are. In the last house I rented before I bought the one I’m in now, I used to go to the same grocery store in drab and en femme. I never gave it any thought as to whether any of the checkers realized the my drab presentation and my en femme… Read more »

Alex Louise
Member
Member
Alex Louise(@alexl)
1 year ago

Yes it does Alexis. Partly because a persons perception of reality is dependent on the interaction between the viewer and the viewed. You are as you are perceived to be by others. Won’t go into the psychology of the ‘self’ and reality but it’s in there. The notion of being yourself whatever others think isn’t possible. Human beings don’t function that way. The balance lies between how many see you as how you see yourself and those who don’t is the point. I’m always Alex, out and about or in any situation…I don’t think about it anymore. I ignore misgenders…even… Read more »

Katie Taylor
Katie Taylor(@katieanntaylor)
1 year ago

Beautifully said Alexis.

JAKe Hatmacher
Member
JAKe Hatmacher(@middleground)
1 year ago

Lexi, You don’t know how much I agree with you! I remember the first time I basically said, “the hell with this, this is stupid.” No, I wasn’t referring to my attempting to be a girl. I said this to myself as I was holed up in my hotel room trying on my women’s clothing, putting on my makeup, and trying to attempt feminine vocalization by listening and singing with female recording artists. My meaning in what I said to myself expressed my desire to get real with my desire to be myself. Just minutes after I said those words… Read more »

JAKe Hatmacher
Member
JAKe Hatmacher(@middleground)
1 year ago
Reply to  Alexis Moon

Alexis, Thanks for commenting. As you have experienced, that urge to let go was overwhelming. I’m at times so close to the overwhelming phase on announcing who I really am to all my wife’s and my own mutual friends. I know it needs to be done, but my wife’s insistence I not do it mitigates the overwhelming urge. Oh, one day! Oh, and in regard to dressing as one wishes, male female, or other – as I said earlier, we are still kowtowing to societal norms. Would it be better we were born in a more accepting age, or are… Read more »

Margo Cooper
Margo Cooper(@margocooper)
1 year ago

Hi Crowd,
I am new here and get every word written. One of my shields when I go out is to have my cis girlfriend go with. That does take a lot of pressure off. But I still feel at risk and vulnerable when I go out alone. Of course feeling vulnerable out alone is not a new experience for a girl.

Margo Cooper
Margo Cooper(@margocooper)
1 year ago
Reply to  Alexis Moon

Yes, always alert when out. The same mind set for the person who will wish a cis girl harm or a trans girl harm is present.

Jessica Alexandria
Member
Jessica Alexandria(@jessica037)
1 year ago
Reply to  Alexis Moon

Hi Lexi. I must have been doing something wrong but I couldn’t reply to why passing matters so… That article was amazing. You said exactly what I feel. You have a gorgeous figure btw…lol, masked up, I couldn’t see your face but I would feel confident and exhilarated going out looking like you.

Carly Holloway
Member
Member
Carly Holloway(@carlyellen)
1 year ago

Lexi, you are so spot on. Passing does matter! I want to be seen as female, because I am. I want to be properly addressed and not misgendered. I want to look my best when going out. I, too, am thrilled and affirmed when accept me for who I am. And I acknowledge that genetics simply didn’t cooperate! I know that I will never look 100 percent female. I accept that there are goons out there who will go out of their way to be insulting. Not everyone will see me as I really am. But that is their loss,… Read more »

Alicia Arballo
Member
Member
Alicia Arballo(@alicia62)
1 year ago

Thank you Alexis. I relate so much to your article. I’m nine months into my HRT regimen and I still have issues with passing. When you talk about the amount of time spent to present as female, and then someone calls you “sir,” nothing hurts like that. It’s getting better for me and today I spend 100% of my life living as a female, outside of work, which at the moment doesn’t feel like a safe space. Because it feels like I’ve made this shift in my life with regard to living as a female, the misgendering doesn’t hurt as… Read more »

Ms. Tia Tracy
Member
Active Member
Ms. Tia Tracy(@tia4751)
1 year ago

Hi Lexi, the friggin clerk needs glasses as you’re beautiful. This article needed to be written as the newbies are always asking for advis, thank you and I will direct them to it as it tells a very candid story for their own doctrine.. I for one am one of those who goes about my life as I did as a male. I do not look around for approval nor do I appologise for anything. If I am mis-gendered it goes in one ear and out the other as I flip my hair back to allow the person to see… Read more »

Ms. Tia Tracy
Member
Active Member
Ms. Tia Tracy(@tia4751)
1 year ago
Reply to  Alexis Moon

I assure you of one thing Lexi. Once you slam the closet door behind you, you’ll realize that the time you spent in ther closet was a waste of time. And then you’ll be like me whipping on some sweats, lip stain and tank to go anywhere and everywhere BORED. Take your time.! Your journey, your future. Huggz n much love Tia

Rachel Quinlan
Rachel Quinlan(@rachelgirl059)
1 year ago

Great read to kick off the New Year. I feel everything you said here, I’ve sat in my car for 30 minutes at a convenience store parking lot, just getting the courage to go inside. Thanks for being an excellent writer, I’ll be looking forward to your next article!

Andrea Smith
Member
Andrea Smith(@andream2fdream)
1 year ago

Alexis, Thank you so much for writing such an important and thought-provoking article. This resonated with me significantly. I spent many years — decades at this point — worrying about passing. Stopping myself from exiting the home because I couldn’t. Very late at night wee hours walks were my limit when the call to be out was present, and it was always just outside the home so I could rapidly escape back to ‘safety.’ The irony of course for me has been the idea of outrunning anything this inevitable to ‘safety.’ My gender identity is female and it no longer… Read more »

Lauren Deaver
1 year ago

Amen Lexi💕

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