A Passing Thought

July 23 | Posted by Heather | Blogs, Heather

In the world of transsexuals, passing, or even stealth mode, have long been a requirement when you are in a potentially hostile environment.

(Passing refers to being perceived as being the sex with which you most closely identify, although there are occasions where the reverse is required. Stealth Mode refers to passing 100% of the time, and requires that you create a past consistent with the life you are now living. It’s a lot like witness protection, and for some people is just as important to their physical and psychological well being.)

Our eyes see, but our brains perceive. The two are rarely the same. Our perceptions are often black and white because our brains are incapable of fully understanding the incredible complexity of the world around us. It is a simplification of what is real.

For example, we have day & night, but what about twilight and sunrise? The sun doesn’t turn on and off like a light bulb! In fact, even a light bulb doesn’t go instantly from black to white. There is a finite period of time while the tungsten filament warms up and begins producing infra red light before what we perceive to be “light” is produced.

Passing doesn’t require that you BE a man or a woman by any medical or legal definition, only that you are PERCIVED to be the one YOU want people to see. Reality always contains mixed signals, but in the end, passing just requires that you tip the scales in your favour.

For example, long hair no longer indicates a woman in western culture, but how you wear it does. Even slight variations like how far up your head your pony tail is tied make a very real difference to your perceived sex. The same goes for earrings. The longer the earrings, the more feminine they are perceived to be.

Once someone has decided that you are either male or female, it takes much more to tip the scales the other way. When people perceive you to be female at a distance, they form that idea in their mind. After that, things like your voice have less bearing on that perception than if it was the first thing they perceived. In short; first impressions are the most important.

Knowing this, you must be more aware of things like the cloths you are warring, the way you walk, or how you style your hair. These sorts of things can be seen at a distance, and may have a much bigger impact on your ability to pass than make-up, or even voice.

Once you do meet someone face to face, or are in close proximity, the most important factor in passing is confidence. Not having it can quickly give away the fact that you are trying to pass.