As I began to write this article, I encountered several issues that made me pause to reflect:

• What is “Passing”
• Do we really want to pass?
• Why do we need to pass?
• Isn’t “Passing” a nod to binarism?
• Isn’t binary a nod to gender constructs?

From the instant I began writing and trying to put this piece together, I came across these and many other words used to describe different ways of identifying oneself.

Unleash Your Inner Woman

Genderqueers, non-binaries, part-timers, crossdressing, and many other terms are used to describe all the “In-betweeners” those in the middle of what we all call “Masculine” and “Feminine” (I took away “Male” and “Female” from the list in trying to address the notion that we may or may not be what our bodies show).

I finally came to terms today, after all these mind conversations where I could not find a middle ground, to realize that my challenge was because of how I see myself and because of what I’ve gone through all these years.

I am a Transwoman, or in better terms, I am a Woman full-stop.

I identify as a woman because that is where I stand in this rainbow of possibilities. If you lined me up in a row with all the combinations, I would stand with the cis-females that also identify themselves as lesbians.

So, yes, I am a Lesbian. Or even better yet, what you may address as being a “Lipstick lesbian”. We lipsticks lesbians are very feminine women (makeup, heels, dresses, hair, accessories, etc.) who don’t hide the fact that we are into other women.

Which brings me back to the title: Do I need to “Pass? “Why would I want to pass?

We are a part of this world where all definitions are made by comparison; from (to or away) to something else. So, not masculine = feminine; not feminine = masculine. They are further quantified by how far away or close from the center we are, as in: not very manly, not very girly, super feminine, super masculine, hetero, very hetero, hetero-flexible (LOL) and any other term that compares the present choice to something else.

To me, passing is everything…

Why is it that I need to go through all that?

My mom always told me, “The way they see you is the way they treat you.”

At that point, I was only wearing graphic t-shirts with alternative rock logos and brands, so it made sense that I was telling the world how I perceived myself by comparison. Also, I stylized my teenage boy hair similar to those I considered the most “appropriate” role-models (to have a better relationship with me and my mother.)

Then the years passed, and so did the way I saw myself. I kept refining my image and what I wanted to project. I left home, and the transition kept going. I stopped buying clothes that were in-line with a teenage girl to purchasing those of a more refined and professional woman. I was still in my crossdressing phase and wondering whether or not it would fade out at some point.

Image result for woman throwing clothes out window

Several years and many purges later, (those who have done them know precisely what I am talking about) I stopped crossdressing; that is, I no longer wore male clothes.

It was my desire to be treated as a respectable, fashionable, and professional woman in every place and situation that I went to. I tried to project that exact message (or as much as I could do) by my selection of clothes, age-appropriate shapes, colours and lengths, and by learning how to put together a full outfit for each occasion that fit that message.

You see, I am not perfect. I didn’t have the chance to wear pink, blue, red and green with a rainbow skirt and glittering sneakers like any other regular girl growing up.

I wasn’t able to wear low rise jeans with cropped blouses like any other teenage girl (of my generation).

No, I had to go through that cycle super fast, and then learn even quicker what woman of my age should wear to be treated as such in public.

And by doing all of this, I found that yes; I needed to be able to pass, at least as much as possible in the simple act of being me.

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18 Comments
  1. Michelle Liefde 5 months ago

    Thank you Marianne for a wonderful article. It does help to read others perspectives on “passing” It is a term that I am coming to grips with as I strive to figure out where I fall on the spectrum. So reading your words helps with that coming to terms with who I am and how I wish to present myself.

    Michelle

    • Author
      Marianne Ferrara 5 months ago

      It was an evolutive process for me. When I was starting to go out, I realised that I didn’t want to play dress-up only. I wanted to be part of the team. I wanted to be an insider to the closed conversations between ladies. I wished to belong and to be treated properly. And my version was, down to this day, to represent an empowered woman every time. That was my tipping point: “an empowered woman”.

      Not just an occasional or weekend woman.

      It is fine for those who see that as their objective. For me, it was the need to express myself in the most dignified way.

      And then, for me, the magic happened. The transgendered woman appeared and never left me.

  2. Tara April 5 months ago

    Crossdresser here I don’t go out in public if I did my voice would give away. For me passing would be important enless I move or go somewhere out of state where no family is!
    I want to move out of state in a few years after I graduate college.

  3. *skippy1965(Cynthia) 5 months ago

    Thanks for a great article Marianne! I know the feeling of having missed out on the rites of passage most girls experience. While I am still figuring out where my path is leading me(i.e. how far I want/need/desire to go towards being full time , or transitioning socially, hormonally or surgically). So many consequences regarding work, friends, family etc. My voice is definitely not extremely feminine though I suppose that could be changed with training. I’ve grown my hair longer now and got my ears pierced. IDK if I’d say I “pass” or not though I do get ma’amed fairly often even while presenting in male mode so I guess that’s something LOL. So for ME at least I agree with you-I want to pass as female and I would consider myself a “lipstick lesbian” as well to some extent.
    Cyn

    • Author
      Marianne Ferrara 5 months ago

      Thank you, Cyn!

      I would say that is a lot of passing already!

      Figuring out who we want to be is sometimes a full life job, other times is just a snap (not a Thanos one hopefully).

      We are always work in progress, and there is where we get the most of life from. Those experiences make us wiser and better.

  4. Karen Matthews 5 months ago

    Loved the article as well Marianne. My own experience was that I have spent my entire life lamenting the fact that I struggle to pass particularly during the day. My personal liberation came during a a three week trek that I undertook 3 years ago. Spending all day walking is the equivalent of spending all day being in a state of meditation. I has no access to my fem clothing for three weeks as I trekked across England….. what I did have was an innordinate amount of time to think about who I was and what I wanted out of life. I came to ONE honest conclusion: the need to ‘pass’ was self inflicted. My attitude was that if I could pass then I could get on with my life without any dramas and just be accepted.
    I made a decision to return home to Australia, frock up and get out and about. I knew that plenty of people would be ‘making me’ primarily because of my height. I just simply made the decision that the pain of being isolated inside my own home was far greater than any pain that people would visit upon me if I ventured out in full fem wear.
    I made the decision that I would at least be the best looking trans woman I could be. Nice clothes, nice hair and makeup and most importantly head up, chest out and a smile on my face.
    I quietly whispered a mantra to myself as I walked through the busy shopping strip… ‘I have a right to be here. I have a right to exist’.

    In years past I had visions of cars screeching to a halt, children running screaming to their mothers arms if I dared venture outside.
    I was staggered by what actually happened….. nothing but smiles and kindness or total Indifference which in all honesty was just as lovely. I went shopping, had lunch, spoke to some lovely people and arrived home that night with a while new perspective ………. it doesn’t matter if I can pass…….. what people respond to was just me being real, me owning it….. deep voice and all.
    That day was a seminal shift in my life….. since then I go out regularly in fem attire. I go to theatre, music concerts, lunches, dinners and sporting events. I have only ever once been abused in public….. by two teenage boys….. I ended up in tears after this for reasons other than you might think. The tears I shed were tears of gratitude to the group of schoolgirls nearby and a couple with their young children who all came to my defence.
    You see I always thought I had to ‘pass’ to be accepted and protected by the tribe. The reality has been something different. I don’t know whether it is just changing attitudes or my own acceptance of myself that has made the difference……. I just thank god im not still stuck inside my house afraid to put a foot outside the door. Bless all of you who are still their….. I know your pain but maybe what you need to do is have a little trust that people will surprise you by their kindness.
    Love Karen

    • Author
      Marianne Ferrara 5 months ago

      Amazing what can happen when you decide to take the faith step right?

      I am 5″8; I am on the tall girl side. I always wear 120-150/60mm (4.75-5.5/6″) heels and platforms, that puts me on the 6″1 to 6″4 range. And one thing I have learned, is that yes, I will be a tall girl, but the other is what you said, nobody batted an eye. If any, I got compliments and women usually are more supportive than what our fears tell us.

      There are always haters, but we always had them, people that don’t agree with our lives, may them be due to religious, political, sports or otherwise, more if we choose to be who we want to be.

      We want to pass not as a statement to society, but as a goal for us. Passing is not in how much we look like models (90% of cis women don’t), but how much we are, behave and live as proper women.

      Some people can do that for a few hours, others for full weekends or afternoons, others choose to do it forever. It doesn’t matter, as long as we are (as in all aspects of life) the best version of ourselves.

  5. Gabriela Romani 5 months ago

    Marianne, yes, thank you for the article. Your perspective is more than valid from the perspective of not only wanting, but needing to be, for real, “just one of the girls”. I guess that one of the differences from the crossdressing perspective is that passing or not, a CD can (or should) be happy with being accepted. While for those living full time as females pre-op/non-op/post-op, it is about being accepted as females.

    I don’t believe that there is a 100% passing crossdresser, at least not those who live most of their lives presenting as males. But even somebody who is passable most of the time, as a CD, may agree that being accepted is more than ok for us. Accepted either as females (usually when shopping, casual conversations, etc) or just as human beings who happen to be presenting as females not being cis-females.

    Personally, for years my goal was being able to pass. That sweet yet elusive and hard to define concept of “passing”. Which can lead to some frustration. Because as a CD, how in the world can you be totally sure that you are really passing??? Sure, there are some few times when you can tell… but for the most part, the fact that people around you is not running away scared doesn’t mean that they believe you are a female. There are always some tells. Shoulders, hands, feet, Adam’s apple, facial hair, walk, voice, etc. And somebody is bound to notice. And they will notice. Not all of them, but if one knows, that being 100% passable ideal becomes what I think it is, wishful thinking.

    The only way to be sure for a CD would be that near the end of the interaction, if you ask the other person if they knew… and yet… some people who knew from the start will be very nice and say that they didn’t notice. So, not that it is a performance, of course, but there is no applause, ribbon or recognition for a CD when out and being able to pass. Hence the frustration if that was still the goal. But if the goal is acceptance, we can have a much nicer time just being who we are.

    Now, since I digressed so much, back to your article. I have seen many of my TS friends leaving behind all TG contacts and going stealth in life as just another woman. And while happy for them, they are also missed. So for as long as you hang out with us, thank you for your contributions and different perspective on things.

    Gaby ♥

    • Author
      Marianne Ferrara 5 months ago

      Hi Gaby!

      You would be very surprised at how much other women aren’t passable either! LOL.

      You see them every day. Women that have thrown the towel and said that they are not going to look like one (that is not against feminism, it is against the public image. You don’t need heels and a lot of production to look like a decent human being) regardless of your main line of work.

      Being respected is not on the other person, is in each one, if we don’t respect ourselves, none will do. How you behave is how people will treat you, regardless of your physical features. Yes, we would like to be soft and rounded and flawless, but humans are not.

      Models are regular women with interesting features that get a lot of production and very little to eat.

      I have seen that when I get in my dark moments and my self-esteem is super low, I will always get clocked, or at best have a high suspicion of being very lesbian.

      I stop for a moment, gather myself, take deep breaths and dismiss my demons and dragons, I know for a fact that I will never get rid of them, but I can dismiss them and make them my friends or mute them.

      Fear is one of them, Not Enough is another, Too Tall is yet another one…

      None of them are meant to harm me, all of them are meant to protect me from harm, by telling me to hide.

      But I chose not to.

  6. Tara April 5 months ago

    I only have one outfit but I wouldn’t mind eventually having all the items that would consider me a lipstick lesbian.
    I like women and only women and enjoy the items and jelious of what they get to wear!

    • Author
      Marianne Ferrara 5 months ago

      Little by little, Tara 😉

      Be smart when buying items. Build a Capsule Wardrobe first and then start derivating. Choose your basic colours and add formal ones.

      Sooner you will realize how amazingly well you did!

      Splurge items: Clothes, fantasy jewellery, some fashion statement.
      Investments: Purses, scarfs, some jewellery (classic), coats and some well designed and classic heels.
      Don’t spend too much: seasonal items that have lots of fashion statements. Careful with trends and trend colours.

      Love,

      Marianne

  7. Jackie 5 months ago

    I truly admire your stand up and be you attitude and courage you possess. Nice article Marianne, I think it will benefit so many who are lonely, confused and without direction.

    • Author
      Marianne Ferrara 5 months ago

      Thank you, Jackie!

      Not easy but I try.

      • Jackie 5 months ago

        I can slightly understand. Whether Trans, drag, cross, gay, bi or whatever we all share a common bond and it does take courage to face the world and be who we are. But as you know once that barrier has broke it gets allot easier. Loved your article, Jackie.

  8. Satin Summer 5 months ago

    Caught by my wife once and she smiled and made be up as a drag queen. Way over the top. Then I asked her to do it all over again and make me passable! It took a lot more time but the outcome was unbelievable. I have always wanted to be passable!

    • Author
      Marianne Ferrara 4 months ago

      I can’t say how much I enjoyed the first time that I was given a free entrance at a club and was held the door and moved a chair for me. That was the moment I knew I could go forward

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