Usually I write about my trips out, but today I’m going to stand on my soap box and offer my take on subjects like “passing” and “blending”. These are often hot topics on the internet discussion board I frequent and on blogs.
I’ll skip to the end and state my conclusion first. WWYWTW, otherwise known as “Wear What You Want To Wear”.
Stana at Femulate was kind enough to allow me a guest editorial back in April on this subject. My post was in response to another guest poster, who suggested that some in our community dress inappropriately. That idea is also far too common on the board I frequent.
Let’s first discuss “passing”, which Wikipedia defines as “In the context of gender, passing is when someone is perceived as a gender or sex other than the sex they were assigned at birth.” In other words, a male-to-female crossdresser “passes” when they are viewed by others as indistinguishable from a genetic female.
Simply put, I don’t think MTF crossdressers “pass” as females. There are too many clues, subtle or otherwise, that suggest otherwise. Humans instinctively judge people based on first glances, dating back to prehistoric days when survival depended on determining whether another person was a friend or a foe. I firmly believe we see someone and instantly detect there is something different that doesn’t match our prior experiences and expectations.
I firmly believe that anyone who crossdresses and goes out on a regular basis doesn’t believe they “pass”. Kandi (“Kan-Dee”) regularly writes that she doesn’t, as does blogger Hannah McKnight (like Kandi, required reading for me). We don’t possess a magic “cloak of invisibility” that allows us to magically blend into the background, no matter what tricks we have up our sleeves (and don’t get me started on those in the community who somehow believe an extra half-inch of padding on their hips makes all the difference between “passing” and “not passing”).
I also firmly believe the idea that we don’t “pass” is ultimately freeing. No matter what you do, how perfectly you dress, people are going to know it’s a man in a dress. But as I have often written, they don’t know it’s ME in the dress–I just want to make sure it’s a pretty dress.
Also, a seemingly frequent item of comment on our crossdresser board is the myth of the inappropriately dressed crossdresser. You know, the one that stands out in the crowd, and thereby makes it worse for all of us out there who follow the “official” rules of how to crossdress. Yes, there are those in the community who believe this, based on comments on our board, or the post on Femulate that I responded to.
My own personal experience–other than attending regular meetings of the St. Louis Gender Foundation–is I rarely see a Transgender person in public (note, I did not say a crossdresser, because when I see someone, I don’t know whether they crossdress, are transitioning, or have transitioned). Perhaps ten to twenty individuals in my lifetime, and as a crossdresser I am always looking.
To buttress my own experience, I posted a question/survey on the internet board asking members, “How many of you have seen a TG person/CD out in public?” I provided certain parameters, like not at meetings or Halloween. There were 126 replies, and over 9,000 views, a reasonably robust sample.. For most of the members who chose to write posts, the answer was the same, a handful. Again, this is an audience that is predisposed to looking for Transgender/CD individuals.
In short, in my opinion–the idea there are lots of inappropriately dressed Transgender/CD people out there–is nonsense.
Which brings we to the second part of today’s discussion, “blending”. Blending is the idea that to best way to “pass” is to watch what women of your age are wearing and dress the same way so you “blend” into the background and don’t stand out. These days, that often means tops and bottoms (pants, jeans, leggings, etc). Again, by doing so, you once again have the magic “cloak of invisibility”–or so the theory goes.
Unfortunately, the same subtle–or obvious–clues still give us away. Our torsos, our hair, our walk, our voice, our height, etc., are still sufficient to suggest to others that something isn’t quite right. There is no magic formula to remain invisible–and somehow remain undetected.
All of this brings me to my conclusion, which is simply “Wear What You Want To Wear.”
Many crossdressers rarely step outside their doors.
When you do, don’t you want to wear what YOU want to wear? ,
Why let some unknown poster on an internet board–who thinks you ought to “blend” so you can “pass”–persuade you how you should dress?
The person–who knows all the “proper” rules–and goes out maybe once or twice a year, if ever? I think of them as the “church ladies”, clutching their pearls, in deference to the olden days of the skits on Saturday Night Live.
I’m often amazed by their double standard. They ask others to be tolerant of how they dress–but then criticize other crossdressers for the way they dress, because it doesn’t meet their standards (thus “shaming” the rest of the crossdressing community).
Or as I say, tolerance for me, but none for thee.
If you want to wear your dress and pearls and heels to the grocery store, I say go for it. What is the possible harm? You might even get a compliment!
If you want to wear something that was designed for someone half your age, and you like the look, do it.
I always thought I would never go out–until I did, and I’ve never looked back.
I never thought I’d go out with bare legs, but I do it regularly now.
Bare shoulders? Impossible–until I saw this beautiful turquoise dress that I had to have. I wore it out with my friend Michelle for one of my best nights ever.
Go out in summer? No way, until I found this cute strappy orange dress at Dangerfield in Melbourne. I have been on the hunt for cute summer clothes ever since–and the right summer days to wear them.
Dressing for me became a lot more fun after my friend Renee suggested that I expand my comfort zone. I did and I have and I wear a lot more cute stuff than I ever did before.
I still don’t pass and I don’t aim to blend and I wear what I want–and nobody cares! Well, that’s not exactly true–my friends tell me they like my looks.
But other people? I’ve never had a problem, but I have gotten compliments–most recently on New Year’s Eve in a sequined strappy bare-shoulder (fabulous) dress.
When I shop for things, I try them on, and see how they look. Most things I buy are in person at stores. I often text pictures to my GG friends asking their opinions. But always in my decision making process is that I’m buying something to wear out–and if I really like it, I hear Renee’s voice in my head telling me “to buy it and figure out a place to wear it”.
Don’t let other people–either those on internet boards or your perceptions of John Q Public–decide for you what to wear.
Wear What You Want To Wear.