Woman staring at a crossdresser

Today I had a few errands to run. I had to drop off the car at the mechanic, deposit a few checks in the bank and do a bit of shopping (My lovely wife rang the death knell for our water purifier last night). For some reason the mechanic always insists that you get there early, and for me 8am on a weekend is very early. After dropping my car off, I realized that nothing else was open for a good few hours – a perfect excuse to walk down to the local Starbucks and do a bit of writing while sipping a Grande Americano – my poison of choice.

On this lovely Seattle spring day, my wife had helped me choose a cool, comfortable outfit. A long flowing skirt, cami under a light long sleeved top and the open toed sandals I bought two weeks ago. On the walk down to Starbucks I noticed something curious – as they drove past men were staring at me. And not just me – I noticed one guy start his gaze with the woman jogger in front of me before smoothly switching and resting his eyes on me. I must admit, I had decidedly mixed emotions about this.

Five looks for a crossdresser

Very clearly there are different kinds of looks that we receive out in public. Over the last few months I’ve been working to decipher the different looks I receive, and I’ve figured out a few distinct reactions others will display to a transgendered girl.

Crossdresser Heaven - Find Your Tribe

Nothing to See Here – Move Along

This is not strictly a look reserved for crossdressers – we all come across this in our daily lives. It’s the momentary glance you receive as someone navigates around you, or interacts with you as if you were a regular woman going about your day. A good 95% of all your looks will be of this kind. People will treat you like another person, without any particular malice or attachment. It can mean you pass, or that you pass close enough the other person would feel awkward making a scene, or that you don’t pass and they don’t mind.

Point And Stare

By far the most feared look is the ‘point and stare’. This look can be accompanied by a derisive facial expression, or in extreme cases slurs or even violence. This look is mainly shown by men when they figure out that you’re not all woman, and can’t help but let their displeasure show. You’ll know this look when you find someone looking at you in a ‘hard’ way, with an unwavering gaze. They won’t seem the least bit embarrassed when you notice them staring. The best advice I can give is to smile and move on.

Something Strange is Afoot

This is ‘Point and Stare’s’ tamer sister, and is often difficult to distinguish from ‘Checking You Out’. If you notice people looking at you out of the corner of your eyes, or quickly averting their gaze when you look at them you could be dealing with ‘Something Strange is Afoot’. The surest way to tell when you’re receiving this look is when you watch it transform before your eyes from ‘Nothing To See Here’. This can happen when you speak in a not so feminine voice for the first time with someone. You’ll see a moment of confusion before they compose themselves.

Checking You Out

This can be a pleasant experience, since it validates you pass well enough to satisfy a hormone soaked male. Though it can also be a little off putting after a while since you can feel like a piece of meat on display. Depending on your paranoia level you could easily mistake this look for ‘Something Strange if Afoot’.

One sure way to distinguish the two is if you notice the same guy’s attention lingering on another woman a moment later. He’s a serial looker, and you just happened to be on his look list. A corollary to this is if you find his gaze transfixed on a part of your body that’s not your face. He’s a serial looker, and your face is somewhere near the end of his list.

Another way to tell is to watch how other woman react. Woman are usually the first to give you very subtle hints that you’re not fully passing. If other woman aren’t bothered by you in any particular way you can be sure that you haven’t been outed. Trust me – men see what they want to see, and it usually doesn’t extend much beyond the pleasing feminine figure.

Solidarity Sister

This is by far my favorite look, and is reserved exclusively for visual conversation with other woman. It affirms my femininity without making me feel cheap or used. For a moment you catch her eye – you smile and she smiles back. You acknowledge each other’s passage through womanhood with a brief show of support, of recognizing each other’s worth and humanity. Sometimes this is the start of a conversation – a few moments of connection in a world full of strangers.

This look doesn’t mean that you pass – it means that you’ve been accepted into her circle of fellow woman. If she’s recognized you as a man, she’s also acknowledged and accepted your femininity.

What other looks have you received?
Have you found any other ways to decipher them?

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Dedicated to creating a safe, supportive and welcoming environment for everyone in the transgender community.
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  1. Profile photo of Karyn Lobelia
    Karyn Lobelia 2 years ago

    The one thing is noticed is how you naturally act or carry yourself . After I started going femme full time and going on hormones , I started to realize that my voice was very feminine from practice and my changes . I had always been a tomboyish guy and not very masculine . The one change I noticed is sometimes letting men help me or other women help me pick up or carry things . I have lost a lot of strength in my arms . For example I can no longer but bags in the overhead bens on an airline that I used too . I suspect even if you could the fact that you have someone do it for you will or would start you being perceived as more femme . Air Line stewardess especially call me dear and treat me special,besause I am one of the few people they see wearing elegant dresses when they travel . Most women wear clothes like they are going camping or to yoga class or very unisex except for older women . I am 21 , but never dress when traveling except how I expect to be perceived . I love wearing flowery long dresses or skirts and lots of jewelry . My wife Shelley always dresses very elegant and glamours . Live your life and style as you are and everything will come naturally .

  2. Carol Ann 7 years ago

    Folks naturally look another. Dont get paranoid. In case some one gives you the EYE, give em a smile. It works everytime. Love Carol Ann

  3. Janean 7 years ago

    Most of the ones I got when out with Rita were definitely under the "something strange is afoot" catagory. They see me…then her at 6ft 3…then back to me. You can just see the wheels grinding.
    "Is she? and if SHE is, then what about the other one? OH wait! Maybe they're gay! Wow, if that is what I think it is, how can she love a …*Gasp* But maybe I'm wrong…and in case I'm wrong, I ain't sayin' one word."
    They REALLY stared when I kissed Rita or held her hand in public! I'm not really militant about it; we are discreet, but I figure, I love her….no matter what and if THEY have a problem with it, then that is, indeed their problem.
    There was the time we were out in the big city…and she was buying a parking pass in the dark alone all…the…way…over…there…and three younger guys surrounded her. Don't think I've ever speed-walked that fast. Not that I don't think she could handle herself, but I wanted her to know I had her back.

  4. Vicki 7 years ago

    Well ther is no way I'm going to pass, not at 6 foot and built like a high scholl linebacker. But I try and be asfeminine looking as I can. I suppose my survival mechanism is to be less self concious of myself, after all, im male mode, how often do I really take notice of the people around me, oh sure a cute pair of boots might get my attention, or if someone is making a scene, but all in all, I think most people go through life paying little attention to their surroundings and what that allows me to do is walk confidently. So, for me, if I'm being stared at, it had better be burning, otherwise I might not even notice it myself. Happy outings girls.

  5. Stephanie Knight 7 years ago

    My excursions while enfemme have been extremely limited- maybe only 2-3 times with my wife and that was a few years ago. Frankly, I was too nervous to try to figure out exactly how people were responding to me but my wife, for whom it was probably easier to observe such things mentioned that there was a guy in a shop we were in briefly who appeared to her to be "checking me out". She stated that there were also some people whom sensed that "something strange was afoot" but, thankfully, nobody reacted aggressively/violently towards me if they did notice that I was actually a male but then again we were out in public at a mall, which made the likelihood of something really bad happening to me/us much smaller.

  6. Jessica Sideways 7 years ago

    I've had a couple of people hit on me before, mostly people I wouldn't go out with in a million years or people I met on the street while I identified as a lesbian (hint: I'm not a lesbian).

  7. Lynn Jones 7 years ago

    > smile and move on.

    That and a cheery hello seems to work wonders – or so I'm told 😉

  8. Leslee 7 years ago

    I really enjoyed what you had to say. This reminded me about a year ago I guy told me I looked like Jennifer Anston. I felt ten feet tall. Now that can be a problem as I'm 6' already. So I wear flats most of the time or very low heels. When you are already taller than most guys you stand out when you are dressed if you add high heels. You get the wow are you tall stare look over before they see the rest of the package.It is a look of wonderment in how can women be so tall and me so short look. My aunt was 6'3" and my sister is 6' so I come from a tall family. Being too tall can be a curse as a women, some times.

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