Seminar: Why can't a man be more like a woman?

Knowing more about body language

Janett Scott

President of the Beaumont Society
Gendys Conference, 1994


It came to me, listening to other cross-dressers and transsexuals, when they recalled being 'read' to look at those recounting the incident. They looked very good and natural. In other words when dressed as 'women' they looked the part.

Apart from the commonest mistake that many of us make, which is to 'dress too young', for our age, make-up too heavy, for the 'time and place' i.e., when shopping for groceries in Tesco's, Sainsbury's etc., fine for evening and social meetings, after all what 'woman' does not want to look good.

I recall walking, through my local shopping Mall, dressed as usual in skirt/dress and jacket, when I realised that a young woman, of about twenty, standing with her shopping apparently waiting, for someone, was watching me intently. You can usually tell when someone is watching you, especially when eye contact is made. My first reaction was one of slight embarrassment. Taking stock of my surroundings, I was not aware of anyone else taking any interest in me, so I relaxed a bit. As I continued my meandering through the shopping centre, this young woman never took her eyes off me. I gradually walked in a line that would pass me close to her, as I passed within a couple of feet, I looked her straight in the eye, smiled, winked and clicked my teeth. She immediately smiled back and took no further notice of me.

On reflection of this incident later, I remembered when I was working in a country lane. I was a telephone engineer. I saw a figure coming towards me, taking a dog for a walk on a lead. All I could make out of the figure, was that it had shortish hair, a heavy weather- proof jacket, trousers and knee length boots. The figure was too far away to distinguish any facial features, I said to myself "That person is a woman." I watched the figure coming closer as I worked. When the figure was almost opposite me I did in fact recognise the figure as a female. When I asked myself "How did I know?" I concluded that it was the person's unconscious 'body language.' After that I would put my theories to the test, trying to identify the sex of an androgenous figure by body language. I always got it right, when the sex was clearly discernible in close proximity.

This has lead me, over the last few years, to 'Body Watching', that is, watching the body language of both sexes of all ages. I will emphasise to do it with discretion, then to understand exactly what you are seeing. Taking this in conjunction with changing the body shape can enhance the pleasure of being accepted as a 'Woman'. Sometimes, as I have found out from speaking to many of my female friends that it is quite common for women to look at other women, if they are very smart, to admire their clothes and wonder where it was they purchased them, and if they could pluck up enough courage to ask the person concerned.

This was brought home to me a couple of years ago, I had been to a local commercial radio station to give an interview. Afterwards, I was strolling around the shops in the town. I was wearing a new Windsmore suit in the classical style of fitted jacket and flared skirt, in the new season's colour of Terracotta. I must admit I was feeling 'Good'. l was approached by a woman of my own age. She smiled at me and asked if I could help her. "Of course," I said. She asked me had I bought the blouse I was wearing, as she had a suit the same colour and style as mine, but could not find a blouse to match. I explained that I had the blouse several years ago, and had bought it in a Mall Order Catalogue, but I had only recently purchased the suit, She seemed disappointed but hoped I didn't mind her asking me "As I looked so smart," she just had to ask. I floated about six inches above the pavement after that.

The difference between men and women.

Knowing that men and women are physically built in a different way will help us to accept that just wearing the clothes of the opposite sex, is not always enough to be accepted as a man or a woman.

When walking men usually take longer strides and in many cases are slightly bow-legged. They walk by swinging or rocking their shoulders and they have the inside of their elbows facing inwards, or to put it another way - arms akimbo. When carrying anything heavy in their hands they hold their elbows out, the same as when putting their hands in their pockets. A woman, on the other hand, walks with a smaller stride and swings with her hips and tucks her elbows in. When a woman carries a heavy load in her hand you will often see that her elbows are pointing backwards and tucked in towards her waist, When putting her hands in her pockets, she will often not put them all the way in unless she is searching for something, but just tuck her fingers into the pocket opening. When out without a handbag or shopping bag, she will often be seen with her arms folded even when walking, but she doesn't fold than the way a man does, but with both hands folded on top of the arms. A man will fold his arms with one hand on top and the other tucked under the arm. Whatever the social significance of this would be for others to define. I have noticed it as body language.

I have found the most difficult to emulate is the hip swaying walk, but with practice it can be accomplished. One way is to lightly brush the thighs and knees together as you walk, keeping the feet straight and only slightly apart. After you become comfortable with this you can then practice a slight swing of the hips as you walk, right hip, right leg, left hip, left leg, the way you see long distance speed walkers do it. The next most difficult I found was carrying heavy shopping bags with the inside of my elbows facing forward and tucked into my waist.

Another very common sight is when a cross-dresser is wearing a 'waisted dress', especially one with a belt. A woman's trunk is nearly two inches smaller than a man's, so the waist is two inches higher than a man's, which means that the belt will find its way down to the natural waist of the man leaving a gap of two inches to the dress waist. To overcome this either be careful not to buy a waisted dress, use foam padding to raise your waist inside your girdle or Slix 'body', or better still buy matching separates. When worn together they will look like a dress, or ring the changes and virtually double your wardrobe with just a few selections of separates, a mixture of only two skirts, two blouses/shirts, and two pairs of slacks all matching and colours co-ordinated. This will give you at least a dozen different outfits.

I hope that this has given you some ideas to go away with, but if you have any questions I will be only too happy to answer them.

Editor's Note: Part of the reason for the different body language of men and women (Desmond Morris) is that girls are trained to take up less space, to be less physically assertive than boys. Part of it is due to the different hips and shoulders of women. The difference is anatomical partly but, above all, in social conditioning. A Nigerian woman walks very differently to an Indian woman, although both wear long skirts. Actresses often remark on how differently they find themselves moving in clothes of different periods of history. A woman in jeans walks differently from the same woman in a miniskirt - but differently from a man in jeans (or a skirt for that matter) unless some care has been taken with the body language - as Janett says.The Beaumont Society is the largest national society. It provides an excellent magazine and has a network of Regional and Area Officers throughout the country. They will meet with members and newcomers and offer a welcome and advice. Many organise social functions in their area. The society itself organises weekends, usually involving taking over an entire hotel for a weekend so that members may dress and attend dinners, social functions etc in complete freedom. To obtain details write to Beaumont Society, BM Box 3084, London WC1N 3XX or ring the Beaumont Trust (no connection) helpline for Regional Officers' contact numbers.

Citation: Scott,J., (1994), Seminar: Why can't a man be more like a woman? - Knowing more about body language, GENDYS '94, The Third International Gender Dysphoria Conference, Manchester England.
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