Jay Andrews


Issue 11
August 2000

It should not be that difficult, should it? Millions of women all over the world do it every day - without even thinking about it. Passing, it's a cruel phrase, but it does say it all. Some of us will never pass successfully, no matter how we try, it just isn't going to happen. It's not anything we can put our finger on always, but for some rotten reason, some of us will not pass in public.

So how do we cope with this situation. Well first you must be sure that you are not just being paranoid, after all it is a new experience. Have you toned down the make-up, are you dressed for the high street or for a night club? Do you walk like a rugby player, or are those heels just a couple of inches over the top?

OK - so we have minimum makeup, flat sensible shoes and we can walk like a ballerina, you're in with a chance. If only those shoulders were not so broad, if only my hips were wider, if only my shoe size were smaller, but still in with a chance. Then the shop assistant asks if you need any help, damn, you have to reply, if only my voice were higher!

It is a very sad fact that most of us have long since passed through puberty and any chance of retaining the high voice, or of growing our bodies the right shape. We are stuck with nature's cruel tricks. It is another sad fact that society is far from welcoming when it comes to us. We have got a whole arsenal of tricks we can employ, speech therapy, vocal chord surgery, breast augmentation, wigs, electrolysis, the list is almost endless. But what, at the end of the day, are we trying to do?

It is only my view, but having tried to pass, with mixed results, I one day asked myself what was I trying to do? The answer, that I was trying to please society, not me, but the world at large. I had moved on from trying to pass, to accepting I would never pass, to stopping even trying.

Before I could go out of my front door I would have to shave my face, then apply makeup to hide the shadow, then I would have to put on my wig, and then dress in clothes I would sooner have left in the wardrobe, sensible, flat shoed, daily High Street clobber. By the time I had done all of this, there was precious little of me in contact with the real world. Do not misunderstand me, it wasn't the effort that was the problem, it was the fact that I had to go through this clown procedure just to please everybody else. And then it did not work, I was seen as a clown-cum-drag queen, at least that's how it felt every time I was 'sussed'.

I had one luxury, I'd had my surgery, it was then that I realised I had a choice. I no longer had to dress as a woman in order to satisfy some life test. I no longer had to endure the humiliation of being 'sussed'. I could choose to live as a man in public. Suddenly there seemed to be an answer. So it was that I took the momentous decision to go public as a male. After all, the world doesn't have rights to my private life, and if I could cope with a male persona in public then all well and good.

Now it got very tough indeed. I found it impossible to bury my feminine self, and trying to live two lives nearly killed me, literally, so don't think this is an easy option because it's not! Any psychiatrist worth their salt would tell you, that there is no cure for gender dysphoria. So I have come to accept that I am a 'tranny' and always will be. But how I cope with my condition, is up to me. So it is, that I now present myself as a male in public, but privately I am myself.

It's been a long, hard road, but I am progressing towards leading an integrated life. So, you can see that there is another way to cope. We may have to dress up for the medics, in order to get our surgery, but once that is achieved, you are free to live as you choose! If you find that you do not pass in public, it may be that you could follow my example and I am not alone. There are many people who live secret lives, it is far from ideal, but it can work. In the end, it is a question of choice, which of the two evils can you best live with?

In my case I've had to accept that I just do not look right dressed as a woman and, going public is no longer an option for me, so far as I can see. This was a very sad realisation, at the very least I feel I am denying my true self, but that is the price I must pay. There are those who will say that I have 'chickened out', that I should ignore adverse responses and get on with my life. I understand that point of view, but I am just not hard enough to constantly take the knocks. But I can also see the other point of view, expressed by members of the public, that I look ridiculous. So through the sheer weight of numbers I have chosen my solution.

It is not straightforward, leading a double life, but it is manageable. I still have to reconcile my true self, with the behaviour expected of me as a male, this is very hard but, once again, manageable. After all, I have to live with myself and, since I've had the surgery, I am well able to do just that. I know who I really am and that will do, nobody else need know.

Why place yourself at the mercy of derision if you don't have to? So now I pass easily, every time I go out, because I go out as Jay. No wig, no makeup, no dowdy clothes, just secret little old me! I look the part, I can speak without dreading my own voice, I can stride along as my gait dictates and no-one even blinks. So if you suffer every time you go out, and you cannot any longer cope with that, there may be another way for you.

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