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Author Topic: tips for not being always read as a girl?
William J
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Hello! So this may seem like a relatively common question, answered hundreds of times before to the point of obvious and collective unconscious knowledge, but I'd ask you to withhold judgment a moment.

So I'm genderqueer, female-bodied with a mental gender that shifts between androgynous and male, and a presentation that tends to shift between androgynous and female. I'm usually able to handle any body dismorphia or disconnect between presenting femme female because mentally I'm femme male and I already tend to see fashion as non-gendered art more than most people I've spoken to. But lately especially I've had days where ignoring my body and how others see it has become really difficult and upsetting. I'd really like some advice on, well, looking more male while not appearing ... super masculine? That probably makes no sense, I'm sorry. I get strictly read as a girl no matter what I do, and I'd really like it if I could even make people take a second glance, or be a bit confused, if nothing else. Looking androgynous or like a "girly" boy would be just fine with me. Here's the part where you all run off to your favourite tumblrs or google image searches or what have you, but unfortunately that will do me no good. The reason I've got to ask this question at all is because I'm fully blind, and in an online age that seems incredibly fond of expressing itself through artsy photos, clever gifs, or galleries of faces, I find myself left a bit in the dust. I've done what I can gather from textual conversations, straight-leg jeans, loose unisex or guys t-shirts or button-ups, black running shoes, binding my breasts, shaving that bit of hair on the sides of my face, tucking my hair under hats or pulling it back in a loose, low ponytail and hiding it under a hoodie. (as an aside, is a straight fringe an unquestionably female thing, or a style that any gender could pull off? The internet refuses to give me an answer.) And yet I'm continuously read as absolutely no questions asked a girl. I'm trying to lose weight to make my hips and breasts less noticeable, but I'm not sure what, if anything, else I could do. And obviously pictures online, looking at guys in day-to-day life, or looking at myself in a mirror aren't possible. I suppose there are just some people whose bone-structure makes their physical sex blatantly clear no matter what? Anyway, I just thought I'd throw it out there and see if anyone had any other suggestions or things I might be missing. This all looks rather silly now that I've typed it out, but my gender is becoming more and more of a stressor these last few months. In a perfect world my breasts would just disappear and I could wear lacey tops and eyeliner and still be one of the guys. But since that's not going to happen, I'm just trying to get to a point where I am comfortable with my body and how other people see me.

My apologies for how terribly binary-focused this post turned out to be, but no matter how much one wishes to live outside of the gender binary and its stereotypes we still have to live in a world where they are part of the dominant culture.

Anyway, thanks in advance,, and sorry if I failed at explaining myself adequately or coherently at any point. [Smile]

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Heather
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So, what you want is help with passing.

For sure, it's easier for some people to pass than others, especially when we're talking about body shapes and how body parts and shapes tend to be associated with gender. So, someone with full breasts and wide hips is going to tend to have a harder time passing as male.

But I'm hearing that you're already doing all one really can do here, save transitioning with things like hormones or surgeries.

Can you clue me in on how you're coming to conclusions about how people read your gender? One of the reasons that I ask that is that obviously, in a given day, a ton of people may pass us by and if they don't say anything to us, whether we can see them or not, who knows how they're reading us.

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bump on a log
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quote:
Originally posted by William J:
(as an aside, is a straight fringe an unquestionably female thing, or a style that any gender could pull off? The internet refuses to give me an answer.)

Straight fringes are (I think -- not much of a hairstyle-watcher tbh) most often worn by children, and after that by women, but I do see a fair few young men with straight fringes, and it doesn't look particularly outlandish as far as I'm concerned. It does look kind of boyish, but you're fine with that, you say. The internets actually inform me that fringes are 'in' for men of late. Lord knows. On the other hand, I suppose these things vary geographically, so maybe where you're living fringes are not the thing for men.

We can't see you, obviously. Is there anybody you could ask to take a look at you and tell you honestly whether there's anything about you, like your build or your body language or whatever, that is getting you read as female? Probably not or you would be asking them instead, so apologies if it's a dumb question.

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Heather
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Likely apropos of nothing, straight fringes with shorter hair on people of any gender for me actually make me think boy, because I always think everyone with them looks like Prince Valiant. [Razz]

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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bump on a log
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They make me think Harry Potter. Actually, yeah, probably they make most of our generation think Harry Potter. Hadn't considered that.

Lightning scar in Magic Marker and like magic you will pass?

OK, terribly sorry for bad joke, back to business.

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William J
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quote:
Originally posted by bump on a log:
quote:
Originally posted by William J:
(as an aside, is a straight fringe an unquestionably female thing, or a style that any gender could pull off? The internet refuses to give me an answer.)

Straight fringes are (I think -- not much of a hairstyle-watcher tbh) most often worn by children, and after that by women, but I do see a fair few young men with straight fringes, and it doesn't look particularly outlandish as far as I'm concerned. It does look kind of boyish, but you're fine with that, you say. The internets actually inform me that fringes are 'in' for men of late. Lord knows. On the other hand, I suppose these things vary geographically, so maybe where you're living fringes are not the thing for men.

We can't see you, obviously. Is there anybody you could ask to take a look at you and tell you honestly whether there's anything about you, like your build or your body language or whatever, that is getting you read as female? Probably not or you would be asking them instead, so apologies if it's a dumb question.

At the moment not really. In the future, who knows, but for now the only people i've mentioned anything about my gender to are my mum and my flatmate and I'd not really feel comfortable asking questions about my appearance of either of them at this point in time. Who knows, maybe once they understand a bit more and I'm a bit more confident that'll be different. Sorry, I know it was a bit of a silly thing to ask without being able to provide any real description/image of myself, but I figured it couldn't hurt.
thanks for your help!

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William J
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quote:
Originally posted by Heather:
So, what you want is help with passing.

For sure, it's easier for some people to pass than others, especially when we're talking about body shapes and how body parts and shapes tend to be associated with gender. So, someone with full breasts and wide hips is going to tend to have a harder time passing as male.

But I'm hearing that you're already doing all one really can do here, save transitioning with things like hormones or surgeries.

Can you clue me in on how you're coming to conclusions about how people read your gender? One of the reasons that I ask that is that obviously, in a given day, a ton of people may pass us by and if they don't say anything to us, whether we can see them or not, who knows how they're reading us.

That's definitely a good point, and likely one I've been neglecting to take into account. Mostly i'm getting it from people who use female pronouns when talking about me without me having spoken or anyone else having refered to me beforehand (this tends to happen more often because a lot of people read blind as deaf/incapable of doing anything, so if i'm with a friend or anyone else, really, a lot of people will speak to them about me even when it comes to things like asking what I want to order at a restaurant or if I can step out of there way. So once I get past the painfully offensive and humiliating issue of people talking about me like i'm not there, that does tend to be where I get gendered. And often some of my friends will use me as an example of "an unquestionably female woman". But you're absolutely right in that we have no way of knowing how others gender us in day-to-day life, and I will remember to take that into account.

"But I'm hearing that you're already doing all one really can do here, save transitioning with things like hormones or surgeries."
Ok, that's good to know. [Smile] Just wanted to make sure there wasn't any obvious things I'd somehow missed, haha. Any sort of medicle intervention isn't really on the table for me at the moment, as my gender does tend to fluctuate over months or years, and I have the sort of relationship with surgery (which i've had rather a lot of) where I start having a panic attack if it's even implied that i might have to go in for surgery of any kind.

Thank you for your help!

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bump on a log
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Further to the fringe: I am currently living in a southern French city and I go to work early, at peak high-schooler-traffic time. It occurs to me now that sitting on the tram amongst these high schoolers, I do see some boys with straight or straight-ish fringes: more boys than girls, in fact.

One thing kind of at random. There are lists of FtM passing tips all over the internet, and some of them are very useful, but some of the stuff they tell you to do you may find that you are already doing. Like, I never talked in the bathroom anyway. I don't view bathroom time as small talk time. And at one point I took all this about how men walk straddling an imaginary line very seriously and adopted a ridiculous bow-legged stance, and then it occurred to me that I walked straddling an imaginary line anyway, just not one that was three or four feet wide. Some of the tips are for people trying to undo female conditioning, learned female mannerisms, and I never had much female conditioning. So how much of this stuff you need to adopt is going to depend on how much female conditioning you had, and/or how easily you can switch between 'feminine' and 'masculine' mannerisms. You've probably already thought about all that; it sounds like you've done your homework on this question as far as Inquiring Within and figuring out how you feel goes.

One other thing. Even if strangers keep on reading you as male, maybe, as you say, once people understand a bit more and you're a bit more confident, you will be able to gradually get them used to seeing you as male or male-leaning, or male sometimes, or whatever, and then, with a bit of luck, you will be accepted as male by the people who matter to you and that will make all the difference, and you won't have to stress. Just a possibility for the future.

You sound very level-headed and like you have a good grip on things. Best of luck.

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Saffron Raymie
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I'm genderqueer, falling more on the transmale side, and I just got shorter hair with a straight fringe because of this thread! As for tips, I feel that long surfer type shorts (boarder shorts) and three-quater length bottoms seem to make me feel like I look more boyish - but I'm not to sure what other prople think, unfortunately. My friends don't think about gender.

The hairdresser was scaring me throughout: 'now you look like a boy, *snip snip* now a girl! *Snip* Now you have a boy fringe. *snip snip* hmmm, maybe you'll start the new girl-craze for hair!'

So much so that I went home and re-did the fringe myself. And, yup, I look like Prince Valiant - from the Swan Princess?

Do boys have side fringes? I'm so clueless about hair!

Now I just need a really good binder. Anyone have any recommendations?

[ 11-11-2011, 07:13 AM: Message edited by: RaeRay2112 ]

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bump on a log
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quote:
Originally posted by RaeRay2112:
The hairdresser was scaring me throughout

They scare the heck out of me too.

quote:
Originally posted by RaeRay2112:
And, yup, I look like Prince Valiant - from the Swan Princess?

It's a comic strip. (I like to read the funny papers.) The guy in The Swan Princess is called Derek, I believe.

quote:
Originally posted by RaeRay2112:
I went home and re-did the fringe myself.

Last Wednesday I cut my hair myself, all of it. No, it does not look disastrous, but no, I would not recommend following suit... Anyway, I now have what I call a Plausible Deniability Haircut: whichever gender I'm read as, I have a roughly appropriate haircut for that gender. I look kind of like Ludovic in Ma Vie en Rose. That's what I was aiming for. I can't just rock up to work with a boy haircut, much as I'd like to. I need to be able to throw on my pale-purple sweatshirt and look reasonably female.
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Saffron Raymie
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I just googled Ludovic in Ma Vie en Rose - that hair looks amazing, very similar to mine (I just this second cut mine myself, too!) Ludovic hair was what I actually was aiming for (though I haven't seen Ma Vie en Rose - looks amazing though). My hair's still too long for it though, so I added a side parting.

Haha when Heather said 'Prince valiant, Prince Derek just popped into my head; but he has Ludovic hair too!

We don't need hairdressers! [Big Grin]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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bump on a log
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I like the expression 'Ludovic hair'. Rolls off the tongue easier than 'Plausible Deniability Haircut'. Ludovic's nickname in the film is Ludo, so it could even be shortened (pun sort of intended) to 'Ludo hair'. Ludohair, a new word in the FtM handbook...

quote:
Originally posted by RaeRay2112:
We don't need hairdressers! [Big Grin]

Maybe not! I have a feeling I will do a better job next time. Practice makes perfect.

Yeah, do see Ma Vie en Rose, and also its FtM counterpart, Tomboy, which is also French, despite the English title! The very wonderful Peccadillo Pictures is doing a UK DVD release.

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Heather
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You all make me so happy, I swear. I think we have the best community on the PLANET.

(A planet where, indeed, I hope hairdressers and barbers have posters on their windows for Ludohair. Or maybe, the LuDO? [Razz] )

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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naplement
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It might be things like how much space you take up. When I'm sitting on the metro, I see almost all guys sitting with their knees as far as possible, while women trying to take up as little space as possible (crosslegged or at least having their knees touching). Once I participated in a discussion about this, and it became spontaneously an exercise of we, girls, trying to sit shamelessly and agressively comfortable, taking up a lot of space, putting our ankles on the other foot's knee (sounds strange in writing, but you know what I'm talking about). It did make me feel hilariously macho. (I generally like to sit unconventionally, but it's more of a hippie/child-like thing. Macho Sitting is a different phenomenon.) (I have heard guys explaining that they have to sit with their legs apart, because their testicles have overheating problems, that's why they are outside of the body after all. I don't know, it might have a biological component, but it is also about gender roles (and what your clothes permit you to do)).

[ 07-23-2012, 12:55 PM: Message edited by: naplement ]

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