I am often asked by Trans guys new on the journey, for tips on how to “pass”. I find this a difficult subject. I don’t like to be seen to tell people what to do, I think finding your own identity is very personal and there can be a lot of unfair pressure to be and act a certain way. However, in saying that I do understand how desperate we are in the beginning to be seen as the men we truly are so here are my thoughts on the subject.
I don’t like the term “passing”, it implies you are attempting to be something you are not. I prefer the term “being read correctly”. Changing the words actually made me feel more empowered, it reminded me that I WAS male, I wasn’t TRYING to be, however by changing some of the things I did, I could help people to read me correctly.
I think it is really important to stress that there is no right way to be a man, there can be a lot of pressure to conform to both cis and trans stereotypes of maleness. I was adamant in coming out that I wasn’t going to compromise who I was just so that people would gender me correctly. However, the dysphoria was so bad that I soon gave in and decided that I was willing to do whatever it took so that people would stop calling me she. In the beginning for me there was a lot of being someone I wasn’t just to be seen as the person I am…ironic I know! The good news is, as time goes on, as you begin hormones and your features masculinise you are then free to finally start carving an identity for yourself that’s not restricted.
For a lot of trans guys, as was definitely the case for me, we often start out already dressing in a masculine but often in a “lesbian” masculine fashion. For example, having short hair but it being a spiked funky style and wearing masculine clothes but often lesbian cult brands such as superdry and bench shirts and polo shirts.
The first thing I did was to change my hair. I lost the highlights and went for a straightforward short back and sides cut. Don’t go too short, that in itself can just add to the “butch look”, but just have a simple blended male style. I always asked for a number 2 on the sides and left longer on top so I could “mess it up”
With clothes, again go for plain and ordinary, loose the labels. Whilst your gender is ambiguous, labels associated with lesbian fashion can act as cues for people to decide wrongly that you are female. Keeping your clothes ordinary, as boring as that sounds, helps you to blend in. Collars are good; collars are associated with male fashion, but just choose plain shirts, no checks or plaid as again these are often associated with lesbian fashion.
Definitely buy male clothes, they are cut very differently and hang very differently. Size can be an issue, especially if you are 5.4 and under like me, however, you can often find some great fits (and bargains!) in the teenage section of clothes stores. Shirts that cover the hips help to give a straight line and hide curves. Dark colours help to slim down hips, and dark colours are also good for hiding moobs and binder outlines. Jeans can be a pain to buy; male jeans can be difficult to fit so I suggest shopping around till you find the best fit for you, NEXT do a great short jean range. I also found straight cut dark jeans to be the best for me, boot flares and loose cut just seemed to accentuate the female shape, so relaxed fit straight cut worked the best.
As well as making adjustments to my appearance, I also did a lot of people watching to help me to pick up on male body language. Having been socialised as female I really had no idea how to interact as male with other men. Watching how men held themselves, how they talked to each other and to women helped me to learn what Id missed out on growing up.
Confidence is the key really, hold your head up, straighten your shoulders and walk with a stride. You are a man; it is not your fault that society doesn’t recognise that just yet. If people don’t gender you correctly, as hard as it is don’t take it personally, they cannot take away who you are. Either correct them if you can, or give them a confused look. Most importantly, remind yourself that this won’t last forever. One day, not far from now, you will be the perfect reflection on the outside of the man that’s always been there on the inside.