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She’s the man – getting ‘read’ in public.

It’s been said[1] that trying to ‘pass’ as other than your birth gender is like playing a game where the moment someone becomes aware that you are succeeding, then you have just failed.

On Saturday I played just such a game, as I do every time I go out in public in girl mode.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I always feel like there is a fine line to be walked when going out shopping in girl mode. If you dress up too much then you will stick out like a sore thumb as many women don’t bother when just going shopping. Some appear to make no effort whatsoever, in fact. But at the other end of the extreme, if you emulate them and also dress down then you won’t have a hope of passing. You often have to over-feminise to compensate, which means paying particular attention to your makeup and wardrobe.

On Saturday, I didn’t heed my own advice and went out in jeans, unisex Merrell sandals, and a top. On reflection, although very comfortable, the sandals were a bad idea. I find that wearing a heel encourages me, and constantly reminds me, to walk in a feminine way. Flat shoes do not and you often forget. I also have bad posture in guy mode, and again heels encourage me into better posture as they affect the way you stand as well as the way you walk – in short, it’s much harder to slouch when you’re in heels.

Saturday's outfit

Saturday’s outfit

Anyway, that all said, into Camberley I went like this.

I parked up in the multi-storey car park and even in my little super-mini class car, I found the parking bay very tight indeed. I had to reposition several times so as to leave enough space for the driver of the car next to me to get in, whilst leaving enough space on my side to get out. It was very tight indeed. (There is a reason for me telling you this and I will come back to it later).

I was primarily shopping for a short sleeve office or school uniform type white blouse for an upcoming photo shoot. After trying BHS, Primark, several charity shops, and (earlier in the week) M&S, I found what I wanted in New Look. And best of all it was in the sale, reduced from £12.99 to £7. Bargain.

Obligatory selfie

Obligatory selfie

Things had been going well, and nobody had given me so much as a second glance (which is what usually happens) apart from one point where an older man accidentally bumped into me and said “oh, I’m so sorry my dear”. However, all that was about to change as I headed back to the car to leave.

I joined the queue to pay for my parking at the pay station. In front of me was a lady and her friend, and the lady was having trouble with the machine. On these ones there is no ticket – you have to type your car registration number in, and the lady had several failed attempts and her friend explained to everyone that it was a new car and her friend couldn’t remember the number. Or, rather, she thought she could but evidently couldn’t.

The lady started rummaged in her handbag saying she had it written down, but then half turned and said “Oh, I’ll let this gentleman… lady… go first”.

Oh dear.

I had hoped that I was doing an ok job of passing but clearly not. But it was said without rancour or making a big deal about it. It was all very matter-of-fact, and that’s probably the best way to handle a situation like this, I think. I know some people might have apologised or something, which would have ironically drawn far more attention to it and made things worse. So credit to her for this.

After I had paid and returned to the car, I was faced with the owner of the car parked next to mine, on the driver’s side. He had a small boy who was trying to let himself into the passenger side, and I just stood and watched, sure that I was about to witness a massive car park ding happen to my car. The father must have had the same idea and said to the boy “Wait. Let the man into… um… their car first”. The little boy, in keeping with a lot of kids that age adopted an “I can do it” stubborn determination and, to his credit, did get in without dinging my car. Amazingly.

So, again, it was just a little slip up and no big deal was made of it. Although it was also clear that I had failed to pass again. In fairness, the car park was dimly lit so it’s possible that the bloke didn’t notice my female top, makeup and, indeed, tits. After all, some blokes do wear their hair long. And he did have other things to think about – like the owner of a car his son showed every likelihood of damaging standing right there watching.

It has, however, made me ponder as to what are the key indicators to gender that these people were picking up on? In neither case was it my voice as I hadn’t spoken. It wasn’t necessarily height as although 5’8″ is reasonably tall for a woman, it’s not excessively so. It might be build. Or could have been the way I was standing – as I mentioned previously, flat shoes don’t encourage me to pay attention to my posture.

In both cases, the person didn’t make a big deal of it and for that I should be grateful. Although it would have been even nicer if they hadn’t noticed at all.

 

Posted by on 2nd September 2015 in Diary, Out & About, Transgender

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Quite clear

Quite clearly...Had rather an odd experience today whilst I was out shopping.

I was taking a break from my shopping (with very sore feet) in Costa, having a cup of coffee, and to my left, perpendicular to me and with his back to me, was a guy in one of the armchairs with a wheelchair next to him. After a while, he made a move to go and pushed his chair back, back, back until I started to worry he’d push it into me. Then he got himself out of the armchair and into the wheelchair. After he was settled in the wheelchair he started to tug the armchair forward again and was struggling a little. Since the chair was right next to my elbow I helped him by pushing it and gave him a friendly smile.

He then started saying something to me. Initially I thought he was angry with me for helping him, so kind of ignored him. But he kept talking. I couldn’t really tell what he was saying as it was a little noisy and also he was quite speech impaired, so I just said “I was just trying to help”. So he wheeled over to me and I thought ‘uh oh, here we go’. But he explained he was just asking me my name. So I told him and he shook my hand, which was kind of nice.

However, he then proceeded to slowly and laboriously (he was *very* speech impaired) tell me that I “quite clearly used to be a man” (those were his exact words) but that he “liked me anyway” (well, gee thanks), and then started explaining something but by this time I was very uncomfortable and not really listening, but I’m pretty sure he was explaining why this meant he couldn’t date me or something. That was the general feeling I got anyway, but it was quite hard to follow him. I just politely said thank you. Thankfully he then said goodbye and left with his friend (or possibly carer).

I must confess I was under the (sadly misguided, it seems) illusion that I was a little more passable in public. ‘Quite clearly’ this appears not to be the case. *sighs*

It occurs to me, though, that if I had said to him that I liked him despite his disability, then that would have gone down extremely badly. Yet somehow he felt it was ok to say that he liked me despite my birth defect. Some might not agree that my gender identity being different from my birth gender is a birth defect, but I can’t see how else you could describe it.

I’m sure he meant no harm, and perhaps he felt he was paying me a compliment in some strange way, but it was a little depressing to have reality so unequivocally highlighted to me. Perhaps I was fooling myself that I look in any way passable.

 

Posted by on 29th June 2013 in Diary, Out & About, Photos, Social, Transgender

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