You are, by far, not the first to have noticed this and to have commented on it. For cross-dressers, especially those who are only newly ‘out’ this is disconcerting as they feel they have been ‘made’ and are being categorized as perverts or some other disparaging judgement.
I have also seen quite a few (not as many though) assurances from females that this sort of scrutiny of femininity by males is normal. Annoying, but usual. They further assert than cross-dressers being so examined by males are likely being considered as possible sexual conquests. So, in a way, the attention is complimentary and you are likely ‘passing’.
On the other hand, you may not be actually ‘passing’. I have to admit that whenever I look at a female the thought of being sexually involved flashes across my mind. I can’t help it, it is likely instinctual and I apologize for any discomfort. However, this is not precise.
People believe that a ‘proper’ sexual orientation is where a person of one sex reacts libidinously to a person of the other (not opposite) sex. I have stated before that I do not believe that sexual attraction is based on one’s sex but on one’s gender. Part of the evidence I offer is that:
If it was true that it was the other person’s sex that activated the observer’s libido, then males attracted to femininity would necessarily be attracted to all females as it is the fact that they are female that is the basis of the attraction.
However not all females are attractive. In fact some are decidedly unattractive even repulsive. Therefore it is not their sex that provides the basis of attraction but their beauty or, fundamentally, their femininity. Note, for example, that some males, in masculine presentation, are not particularly attractive but with a bit of effort are delicious paradigms of feminine pulchritude.
When I had access to the internet I found that I saw feminine males as sexually attractive. I was concerned. Had I suddenly become ‘homosexual’? It was some time before I realized that I found them attractive because they were beautiful. Their sex had nothing to do with it.
So, when males are ogling your femininity speculatively it is most likely because you are, at that time, a woman. Even if they recognize your maleness they may still be aroused by your femininity. I suppose that, so long as they maintain a certain degree of decorum, courtesy and propriety, it cannot be helped and may even be acceptable. In return I feel that a certain degree of kindness and consideration towards them should be applied as a response when approached. After all, we have yet to develop the appropriate social conventions for such interactions and a certain degree of confusion, discomfort and, therefore, even hostility may arise.
I do not believe totally in the necessity of ‘passing’. Pretending to be female when you are not is not the same as being a woman when you are. If someone asked me, when athenased, if I was a man, I would likely respond that I am male trying subtly to make the distinction. To me that sort of openness and frankness is essential to the ‘normalization’ of gender variation and gender presentation. That’s why these forums are important as we are exploring new, social circumstances and finding ways to deal with the confusion, discomfort and ignorance of others. As ladies it is incumbent upon us to dispel their confusion, ease their discomfort and educate them.