Quick PSA: Basic Sex Ed for Teens

I’ve been getting a disturbing number of sex related queries that I can only hope are from teenagers lately.  This is not remotely a sex ed blog, but when multiple people get here with search terms like “is it safe to have sex with jeans on” something really has to be done.

So, for all of you who are wondering about sex, go check out Scarlet Teen.  It has all the information you’re too afraid to ask your parents, including information for queer and questioning teens and young adults.

An Ode to Black

Summer seems like an odd time to remember a love of black, but hear me out.

Black is slimming.  Which is not important to everyone, but think for a moment about two of the biggest issues trans guys have: breasts and hips.  Even a simple black t-shirt will mask breasts and hips better than a t-shirt of another colour.  A black vest/waistcoat is even better.

Black is lengthening.  This is actually true of any monochrome ensemble, but it works best with black.  Put on a button front shirt, a black vest, and black trousers.  You will look slimmer, taller, and less curvy.  Try the same thing with a black t-shirt and black trousers.  It won’t remove as much of the curve (vests really are amazing for that), but the rest will still apply.

Black is versatile.  It can be both formal and casual depending on what you’re wearing and how you accessorise it.  Even a button front shirt, vest, and trousers can be dressed up or down.  (I had to wear this basically every day for years, trust me.  You can do a lot with accessories.)

Black can be cool in summer if you pick the right fabrics.  100% natural fibres are your friend.  Personally, I still won’t wear all black in summer unless forced because I think it looks stifling.  I’ve had to before though and sticking with cottons and linens makes it bearable even in 100+ degrees (F) with humidity.  Avoid poly blends like the plague because they don’t breathe and make life hell.  If you can find black on black seersucker snatch it up.  You’d be amazed at how cooling black is when it’s black seersucker.

Basically black is awesome.  Fitted black is a trans guy’s dream.  A well-fitting, all black outfit is flattering on damned near everyone.  The only times I’d say to avoid it are weddings (sends a message of disapproval) and conservative job interviews (I’d add a subtle pinstripe and white shirt to soften the look up a bit).  Maybe the beach, but even there you could get away with black board shorts and a fitted black t-shirt.

Birthright for the Trans* Person

Note: This is not a post on the political or religious aspects of Taglit-Birthright Israel.  It is also not at all endorsed by the programme.  It is a personal post designed to help trans* people decide whether or not the trans aspect of their identity will be a problem on the trip.  All information came from either my own experience or that of trans* friends (most of whom are male identified with a few women and genderqueer people mixed in).  Your experiences may vary.

Now that that’s out of the way, this entire post will essentially be a series of “it depends”.  Taglit-Birthright is set up in such a way that every trip is different.  If you go with an Orthodox operator your experiences will be different than if you went with a Reform or Conservative or non-denominational one.  I will try to give the best information I have from a group of approximately 25 friends and acquaintances (not including myself) who went on trips with various operators in the winter and summer of 2011.  Most of us went with nondenominational or Reform groups with one deciding on an Orthodox trip.  There are still a handful of people coming back from the summer 2011 tours so this may be updated in the future.

All tours have gender-segregated rooming.  Generally you will be three to a hotel/kibbutz room with your gender being whatever is listed on your passport.  Some trips have the same rooming all ten days, others rotate so you share time with everyone of the same gender on your trip.  If for some reason you can’t get a passport in your correct gender (keep in mind the updated rules so this no longer requires surgery) there were two people who got correct room assignments after calling their trip operator and explaining the situation.  This requires speaking to both your tour operator and your guides once you get to the airport to make sure they know what’s going on.  If you go with a friend you can also ask your trip operator if it’s possible to upgrade to a double room for a small fee.  This system is designed for young married couples going on trips together, but some organisers were willing to make exceptions to ensure maximum traveler comfort.  It is not, however, an option any of us took.  Unfortunately, all aspects of gender on the trip will be very binary.

Oddly enough, the only problem any of us had with bathrooms were the few times we were with other Americans who weren’t on our trip.  Most of the time you will be with your tour group so expect bathrooms to be full.  If you’re pee-shy you may find yourself waiting until you get back to your hotel for the night.  All bathrooms, even the ones at the tourist Bedouin site, involved stalls with modern plumbing so no worries about having to pee in a bush or anything.  No one reporting back found a single gender-neutral bathroom on their trip, but we obviously didn’t see all of Israel so they may exist somewhere.

Religious sites:
The only gender-segregated site any of us visited was the Kotel (Western Wall).  None of us trans people had issues accessing the side of the Wall we wanted, however there were two cis women who were given some trouble accessing the women’s side.  In general if you can pass for a 12 year old boy you should be pretty ok.  There were people who visited both sides without problems if you are interested in that.  I’m not sure I’d recommend it as it requires a particular type of androgynous appearance, but it’s something to keep in mind if you have a non-binary identity.

You will also spend at least one Shabbat in Israel during your trip.  Generally this means the option for services at an Orthodox shul even on non-denominational trips.  Once again, none of us had problems going to whichever section we felt most comfortable in.  Some of the nondenominational trips offer either services or a discussion group, several people took the discussion option which was entirely gender neutral.

A visit to the Dead Sea is a standard part of the Birthright itinerary.  This is where things got most tricky for us.  The changing cabanas at the Sea are group style with five or six people changing in front of each other.  There are bathrooms.  You’re not meant to change in them, but on my trip I certainly wasn’t the only guy using them for that.  Those of us who are pre-top didn’t get any questions about our rash guards as the Sea is rather notorious for causing rashes on people with sensitive skin.  I will warn everyone to not shave anything for two or so days before going because the salt will get into every little nick or cut and burn like you would not believe.

This is where things will vary the most.  On my trip there was one other trans guy (who I knew vaguely from synagogue, go figure) who was out to everyone.  He had no problems at all being out, everyone was incredibly respectful and polite.  I had to field a few questions that were fairly easily brushed off with “no, my family just has shit genes”, but after that there wasn’t a problem.  Honestly, I think I was being a little paranoid because I’m not used to being in groups of cis people with the level of trans knowledge my trip mates had.  Everyone else’s experiences ran the full spectrum from “stealth and fine” to “stealth and way too many questions” to “out and fine” to “out and uncomfortable”.  Even people who went with the same organiser on different buses had wildly different experiences.  I suggest going with a friend so that at the very least you have one person you feel comfortable with.

The Israelis:
Every Birthright trip includes at least 3-4 days with Israeli young people joining you on the trip.  No one has had a problem with them so far.  In many cases people felt more comfortable with the Israelis than with their American peers.  For my part, the best friends I made on my trip were with some of the Israelis I met and eventually stayed with after I extended my stay.  Do not be afraid to talk to them, their kindness and acceptance has been one of the few things everyone I’ve talked to has agreed on.

It’s a pretty widely held belief that Birthright is what you go on to get laid.  In many ways that’s true.  I don’t think any of us have been on a trip where at least a few people weren’t screwing around with each other.  You’d think it’d be difficult with that whole three to a room thing, but most people stay up late in the night chatting in various rooms so you can usually kick your roommates out pretty easily (or ask them to join in…)  Obviously this poses problems for those of us who are stealth.  I did not get laid on my trip (not that I’d have turned down a few of the guys…), but the out guy who was with me did.  If you’re out and interested in someone it follows pretty much the same rules as any other hookup with the added challenge of having to sit on a bus with the person for the next however many days.  None of us who are stealth did anything more than have a drunken makeout session, but the challenges of stealth are about the same in any group of people sharing a small community: you never know who might tell what.  Don’t expect true love or anything, 99% of what happens are casual flings people forget about by morning.  Take protection, consider your own needs and wants, and have fun.

Other information:
There are some aspects of every trip that do feel rather like hetero Jewish matchmaking.  This is irritating to everyone queer and not a single one of us ended up on a trip where we were the only ones (even the one girl who went on an Orthodox tour) so don’t feel like you’ll be left out in your grumbling.  Like in any other group, family tend to find each other.  Luckily, the heterocentric parts are very short and very small and likely something you won’t even really remember compared to the whirlwind of the rest.  All trips go at a clipping pace, you barely have time to breathe let alone think about the two seconds of heteronormativity.

Like I said at the beginning, it depends on your group.  The majority of us had very good experiences and will be recommending the trip to anyone who asks, but there were a few who were less than satisfied.  Of the less than thrilled people, most were more irritated by non-trans aspects of the trip (it’s ten days with largely upper-middle class, educated, white Jews, you can imagine the problems when discussing oppression).  If you’re worried sign up with a friend or sibling you can rant to at the end of the day or see if you can put it off until your passing is closer to 100%.

Fun, if not particularly polite way to deal with butch lesbians insisting on assuming you’re one of them

My salon does quite a bit of promoting for Pride.  It’s good for business and I think we only have one straight staffer so it’s kind of a big thing for us.  Which means that today I was manning our booth while wearing Kurt’s ‘Born This Way’ shirt.

Apparently having ‘LIKES BOYS’ in giant letters across my torso was not enough to deter the lesbians.  Every couple of minutes one of them would come up to me and talk about how great it is to see a lesbian in hairdressing.  (It’s not really, I know at least as many lesbian hairdressers as I do gay men.)  Normally I’m very polite about this.  I’m used to educating and this sort of thing happens to all the cis guys in my family too so I don’t consider it a big deal.

Today I got frustrated.  When a woman (who looked strikingly like Chaz Bono when he first came out) came up to me wearing a ‘dip me in honey and throw me to the lesbians’ and talking about how inspiring I was I immediately started calling her ‘sir’.  Repeatedly.  Even after she corrected me.  I did that over and over and over again until finally one woman got frustrated and asked why I assumed she was a man.

“Why did you assume I’m a woman?”

She didn’t really have an answer for that.

Recent searches

While I’m working on a couple of more in depth posts I thought I’d go over the search terms I’m apparently fairly high ranked for, but haven’t actually addressed.  Figure if people are going to get here from them I should at least make sure they get information.

when you start taking testosterone ftm will you get wet dreams?

Let’s start off by defining ‘wet dream’.  Technically the ‘wet’ part comes from a guy ejaculating while sleeping which isn’t always a part of trans guy orgasm so in that sense, no, you won’t necessarily have wet dreams.  General sex dreams during which time you orgasm?  Yeah, possibly.  Sex dreams without orgasm?  Also possible, even likely depending on how your sex drive ends up and whether or not you remember your dreams.   I know I definitely have had my share, but I also had a few pre-T. Just a naturally horny fucker.

what is a gay ftm?

I think I may have covered this in the FAQ (at least, I really hope I did), but since the search didn’t point there for some ridiculous reason I’m going to answer it again.  Note that the following are the most basic definitions designed for the hardcore beginner and do not account for every possible identity permutation.  FtM: Female to Male trans* person.  Generally someone born female who is actually a guy.  Gay: In this case, guy who is into guys.  So a person who is gay and FtM would be a trans person who identifies as a guy and is sexually/romantically interested in other guys.  (Hint in case you’re confused: if this person was not trans they’d probably be considered straight.)

why do transmen wear earrings

Why does anyone wear earrings?  Because they bloody well want to.  Cis guys wear earrings, why can’t I?  I like earrings, they’re fun accessories.  Just because I’m a guy doesn’t mean I have to be Rambo or something.

i am ftm transgender, and i want an effeminate voice

This is an interesting one that I wasn’t expecting.  Honestly, I don’t think it’s a good idea to force your voice to do anything it doesn’t want to do naturally.  Your vocal chords are very sensitive things that are easily hurt.  However, there are different speaking patterns that can be read as more feminine/effeminate based on region.  For example, in the US it’s very common for people to consider men who don’t speak in a monotone effeminate.  Most trans guys end up sounding effeminate by accident because we’ve had social training as girls, but if you’re worried just take all the stuff trans guys say to do to sound masculine and reverse it.

Just because you’re a man does not mean you need to be a douche

Something I’ve been noticing as I make friends with younger guys: there’s a horrible trend of coming out, passing, and suddenly becoming the world’s biggest pain in the ass.

I’ve seen some sweet, polite, well mannered, privilege checking guys turn into people I never want to see, let alone be associated with. It’s more than a bit sickening. Particularly since I know you’re all capable of more.

This is everyone’s reality check. I know that passing means suddenly you’re allowed — and even expected — to buy into a ton of negative behaviours. I know that it can sometimes be tricky navigating what is and isn’t considered ‘normal’ for a guy. That doesn’t mean you should accept all of it.

Stop taking up two seats on the bus just because you can. If you can fit in one seat you should sit in one seat. It’s only polite. Stop reacting to everything with physical violence. Not only does it show a complete lack of brain power, it’s going to get you in some serious trouble if you mess with the wrong guy. Stop forgetting the table manners I know your parents taught you. No one wants to see your half-masticated food. It’s gross. Stop laughing when the guys around you tell a sexist/homophobic joke. I don’t care if it means you don’t fit in, you don’t need to be playing into oppression. You’re better than that. And for god’s sake, just because you can scratch yourself in public doesn’t mean you should. If your hand is down your pants I’m going to assume you’re playing with yourself and in most places that’s a crime.

I know, it’s awesome that you now have license to be a disgusting slob of a caveman. That doesn’t mean you should. For one thing, most people — man, woman, or otherwise — don’t want to date a caveman. For another, it’s going to create bad habits that are difficult to break when you need to act like a gentleman for something like a job interview. Think about it for a second. Do you want to be the tool on ‘Tool Academy’? I know I don’t. I laugh at those guys. I don’t know how the hell they’re still getting laid. So cut the crap and grow up.

Trans Service Dog Handler

Something not a lot of people know: I have a service dog.  When I was 18 my depression was manifesting in dissociative episodes that were only made worse by medication.  California law regarding assistance animals is amongst the most liberal in the country so I talked to my parents and my therapist and we decided a dog might not be a bad idea.

I love my service dog.  She’s like an extension of me now, I can’t imagine going anywhere without her.  However, having a dog while coming out made life rather more difficult.

First there was the practical side.  I got kicked out when I came out to my parents.  For a while I was homeless.  My dissociative episodes had gone away when I came out to myself, but came back when I was homeless.  Trying to find a shelter that will take in someone with a service dog is damned near impossible.  The response was generally “well there’s an animal shelter over there.”  Just in case anyone’s wondering, you have to train a service dog to stay home when they’re hitting retirement age.  Simply ripping them apart from their person is a great way to traumatise them.  That’s even assuming I could have survived without her which, at that point, wasn’t very likely.  She was the only reason I hadn’t cracked completely.

The problems didn’t entirely stop even once we had a place to live.  There are a few things you get used to having a service animal.  You have to advocate for yourself to be allowed in stores, you have to explain to your doctor, in the case of psychiatric assistance animals you have to explain why you can’t just “buck up and deal with it”.  You have to get used to people staring at you.  People look at you when you have a service dog.  They want to stop and pet the dog or ask you questions.  Kids are drawn to you like magnets.  All of that can pose a problem when you’re in the awkward, just starting out phases of transition.

There is no hiding if you are a trans person with a service dog.  There is no melding into the background and hoping people won’t notice you.  They will and they will probably come up and talk.  If you are visibly gender variant and considering a service dog you need to understand this.  All service dog handlers are warned about unwanted interaction with people, but it’s especially true of people who look ‘different’ in any way.

Now, the upside to this is that most people don’t want to talk to you, they want to pet the dog.  If you have a dog who can handle that (mine can, but she’s been specifically trained for it) it’s not so bad.  You have to allocate an extra half hour to go anywhere because you’ll be stopped by 15 kids on the way, but it’s not horrible.  If your dog is the type who gets distracted from work when pet (or comes from a training organisation that discourages petting) you’ll have to get used to saying a firm ‘no’.  A very firm no.  For some reason people can’t seem to get that word through their heads unless it’s accompanied by “fuck off”.

You also have to learn to deal with doctors.  When doing intake to start T I had to answer a bunch of questions to make sure I was capable of giving informed consent.  Let me tell you, telling the intake coordinator that you have a service dog due to dissociative episodes from depression does not make you look particularly sane.  I can’t really blame them, but it was still frustrating to have to explain myself.  It doesn’t stop either, every time I see a new doctor I have to convince them that I’m rational enough to stay on T.  If I just tell them the dog’s for my epilepsy (which she’s also been trained for now) it’s a bit better, but then they get all worked up about the possible physical effects.  It’s a bit of a no-win situation, you just have to learn to fight with them.

There are a few cool things about having a service dog.  She is great at helping me make friends.  If you’re in a new group of people having a service dog is an instant ice breaker.  Sometimes the response isn’t entirely positive, but there’s always someone who wants to come up, talk, and pet the dog.

She’s also pretty good at warding off violence.  Something about that bright service dog vest just screams “too pathetic to kill” to would-be bashers.  I’ve been bashed with her with me before (retraining after that is hell), but it’s far less common.

I do recommend that you train your dog to go into an instant sit-stay when someone else has their leash.  Part of this is in case you ever need emergency medical treatment, but it’s also because a dog who bites even in defense of you is likely to be considered unfit for work.  Some dogs have been put down for defending their handlers.  That’s not even getting into the PETA wankers who think it’s cool to try “liberating” service dogs.  I’ve taught mine an emergency command that essentially means “do not move unless the ground opens up beneath you” for situations like that.

There is a ton to think about if you’re considering a service dog, but even more if you’re trans — particularly early transition trans.  Know that while a dog will likely make parts of your life easier, they will also make parts harder.  Transition tends to be one of those.  It’s not impossible, not by any means, but it’s more of a challenge.  If you don’t want extra attention while you’re in the ‘in between’ phase a dog is probably not the best idea.  If you are at all worried about being kicked out wait to get the dog.  I am not kidding.  As much as my dog helped me get through that, it wasn’t fair to her.  Your dog relies on you for virtually everything, it’s like having a really helpful three year old.  Make sure you take both of your needs into account before you decide.

Guest Post – Seeking Treatment While Trans: tips, tricks and advice

1)  Do your research.  Find trans-friendly medical professionals that take your insurance.

  • Find a local trans group to ask
  • Google search using such phrases as “trans-friendly”, “gender specialist”, or “LGBT-friendly”; “therapist”, “mental health counselor”, or “psychiatrist” in your local area.
  • Find out what mental health insurance coverage you have, how many visits you can have per year, the co-payment, any restrictions in choosing a mental health professional and yearly coverage limits.
  • If you do not have insurance, some doctors accept a sliding-scale payment plan.  Your other options are community mental health centers, big-city gender clinics, and local hospitals.  Not having insurance makes this process more difficult; it just takes more work, making lots of phone calls and luck.

2)  Prepare Yourself for Your First Appointment

  • What are you looking for: a diagnosis?  A letter to start hormone therapy?  Just someone to talk to?
  • What questions do you have for the person you will be seeing? For example, you can ask how many trans people have they worked with, what to expect for the first sessions, and if they can give you want you want (the precious letter).
  • Be nice to yourself.  Taking steps to deal with your gender problem does not make you weak.  This is a big step and congratulate yourself for making it this far.
  • Don’t over-analyze every detail of your life to make sure it fits some sort of fairy-tale narrative you think they want to hear.
  • Be honest with yourself and the person you will be seeing.  The more information, the better.

3)  General Tips

  • Gender specialists aren’t necessarily better than therapists who have only worked with trans people a few times.
  • Gender specialists usually only do well with gender issues; if you have other things to talk about, you might be better finding a more balanced person.
  • If you live in a rural area and you still haven’t found someone within 50 miles, consider calling a local therapist to tell them your situation.  Point-blank ask them if they feel comfortable with trans patients, particularly the part about approving medical treatment.
  • Sometimes, the least experienced professionals (trans-wise) end up being great, particularly if you have other issues you’d like to address (e.g. depression, anxiety, PTSD, grief).

4)  Advice

  • If you don’t like the person immediately, don’t continue the sessions.  You MUST have a good rapport with them in order for you to trust them.  If this isn’t happening right away, find a new therapist and kindly tell the first one that the fit isn’t right for you. This happens all the time – they will not take it personally.  You may have to see a few people before you find the right one.  Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.
  • If the therapist starts to trace every issue back to being trans, stop them immediately.   Suggest that your other problems are unrelated but just as significant.
  • If the therapist is having extreme difficulty remembering your chosen name and pronouns, they are not the right therapist for this.  If they don’t understand the basics, they will not understand the complexities of trans identities.
  • If the therapist diagnoses you with a personality disorder, find a second (or third) opinion.  Personality disorders are over-diagnosed and they are usually well aimed at trans women in particular.
  • You can discontinue therapy when you get your letter (about 3 months, sometimes sooner).  There is no rule pertaining to the length of therapy.
  • If your goal is to start hormone therapy right away, find an endocrinologist and book that first appointment (the waiting lists are usually long).
  • If you have trouble making phone calls, as many trans people do, enlist a friend/family member to help.  Do not let your phone-phobia keep you from getting help.  I’m aware that it’s harder than it sounds – I went through the same thing – but remember that getting the medical treatment you absolutely need will help you resolve your phone/voice issues.  Think about your future self and how much they would appreciate you  pushing through the anxiety despite the pain.  The payoff is too big to let this get you down – remember how important this is.

[Disclaimer: I am not a licensed mental health professional.  I do, however, have experience with more than 30 therapists over the last ten years.]

Kian currently lives in NH with his two cats. He would be wicked excited if he didn’t have to move to a ginormous city to the south in order to have a fulfulling sex life (he’ll miss the snow and the ice-skating too much.) He can be reached at kian217 at gmail dot com if you’re interested in conversation, an argument or in sending a nicely worded hate letter.

N.A.’s disclaimer: All opinions expressed in guest posts are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NotAiden.

How to ask out a trans man

Just ask.  Same way you’d ask out any other guy.  Really people, we’re not some sort of magical new species or anything.  Get the pronouns right, respect that we’re men, and you should be fine.  Won’t necessarily get a yes, but at least you won’t make an ass of yourself with the trans stuff.

Effeminate FtM Passing Tips

If you’ve been out for more than a month you’ve probably heard the standard passing tips.  They haven’t changed since I came out and I’m pretty sure they were old even then.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they date back to when the first group of butches figured out that they were actually straight guys.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with these tips really, they’re just not the greatest if you ever want to wear something other than baggy stripped polos and cargo pants.  Me, I couldn’t handle that.  I figured if I was going to come out I should at least be able to wear what I wanted.  Some guys are cool with sacrificing personal style for passing ability until they start T, I’m just not one of them.  This is for all the guys who feel the same way.

Original tip: Only go to barber shops.
My tip: Go wherever makes you comfortable, but make sure you ask for square shapes. Insist that they avoid round shapes at all costs. That probably makes no sense to you, but the stylist will know what you’re talking about if they’re even remotely good.

Original tip: Keep your hair short in back and on the sides, but avoid crew cuts and punk styles often chosen by butch lesbians.
My tip: Remember that square shape thing?  Repeat it.  Play with styles until you figure out which one works best for your passing ability.  For me that meant shaggier looks, more along the lines of mid-90s California surfer styles.  Don’t know why, but I always pass best with long hair.

Original tip: Never comb your hair forward, always back or to the side.  Use gel if you have to.
My tip: Do what works best for you.  I found that not combing my hair worked best.  If I just rolled out of bed or jumped out of the shower and ruffled it up with some mousse I’d be great, if I actually spent any time on it people would decide I was a girl.

Original tip: Work out, especially your arms and chest.
My tip: Be healthy, put on muscle if it makes you feel better, but don’t worry about it if you’re not the type to care.  Actually, be wary of building up your pecs too much, sometimes it can make your chesticles stick out more and therefore hinder your passing ability.

Original tip: Use light mascara to make your body hair look darker and more coarse.
My tip: Ok, I’ve actually only seen this one once.  Still, it’s pretty ridiculous.  First of all, your arm hair is not going to be what keeps you from passing.  Second, what if you get wet?

Original tip: Use binders so that you have a perfectly flat chest.
My tip: Guys aren’t board flat.  If you look at guys past puberty you’ll notice that most vary based on weight and muscle tone.  Broader/heavier guys are more likely to have a bit more slant, leaner/skinnier guys tend to be pretty plank-like.  Go for what fits your build rather than assuming you should bind to the point of damaging yourself.

Original tip: Wear white undershirts under striped polo shirts.
My tip: If the frat boy look is what you’re going for then by all means, get the stripped polo.  If not, I suggest plain polos in colours that suit your skintone or the look you’re going for.  Skip the undershirt, even most straight guys stop wearing them around high school.  And for the love of god, don’t get it three sizes too big.  Try on a few sizes (just ask for directions to the changing rooms and go in whichever one they point you to) going from largest to smallest.  When you get to the one that makes it look like you have boobs/a uniboob stop and get the next size up.

Original tip: Dress conservatively to avoid being mistaken for a lesbian.
My tip: Pick a look and cultivate it.  I started off with Abercrombie metro-gay which meant a lot of casual, fitted button front shirts and artistically bleached jeans in the cooler months and bright, layered polos with crumpled cargo shorts when it was warm.  It was similar to the butch lesbians in my area, but because my clothes were far more fitted I rarely got mixed in with them.  When I lived in London and Paris I played up looking young and went for a schoolboy thing with rich toned sweaters and striped ties (hey, it got me laid).  Right now I’m having fun with bright button shirts, mixed patterns, and a million hats and scarves for a sort of Marc St. James meets later-seasons Emmett Honeycutt look.  They’re all different, but they’re all me and that’s what’s important.

Original tip: Wear loose fitting trousers low on your hips.
My tip: Follow your own shape.  I know guys with naturally large hips and asses who have to wear baggy cargo jeans if they’re ever going to pass.  Other guys are more like me with nice bums, but almost no hips to speak of.  Pick out a bunch of styles, try them on, see how they look.  I’ve met guys who pass best in skinny jeans so it really is very individual.  Keep in mind that different brands fit their trousers differently so you may end up with relaxed fit at one store and straight leg at another.

Original tip: Chunky boots look more masculine and give you a male swagger.
My tip: Wear chunky boots with a suit one more time and I will take you out back and beat you with a stiletto.  I don’t care what Chris Colfer is wearing, bondage boots are not appropriate for all occasions.  Wear them with jeans, fine, whatever, but for anything involving a khaki or dress trouser you need a pair of dress shoes.  Oxfords are a classic choice, as are loafers and even wingtips if you think you can pull them off.

Original tip: Men take up more space, sit with your arms and legs wide apart.
My tip: Yes, then scratch your crotch and demand the nearest woman bring you a beer.  You’re a man, not a Neanderthal.  Act like it.  Be polite.  Be well spoken.  Be nice to little old ladies and respect little old men.  Say ‘please’, ‘thank you’, ‘you’re welcome’, and ‘excuse me’.  Know how to give a firm handshake without intimidating people smaller, weaker, or less confident than you.  Ignore everyone trying to turn you into a jackass and become a gentleman instead.  It may not help you pass immediately, but when you do people will value you more.

Original tip: Don’t talk with your hands/pitch your voice down at the end of sentences.
My tip: Go to the nearest place you can watch guys you want to be like without seeming creepy.  For me this was a coffee shop on Castro Street, but not everyone’s lucky enough to live in San Francisco.  Sit there for a while and figure out what they have in common.  Maybe they’re animated, maybe they’re subdued, maybe they all like to wear neon striped hats.  Whatever it is, try it out for a bit.  See how it feels.  If you like it, keep it.  If not, ditch it.  Do this until you figure out what’s comfortable for you and who you are.  Everyone else can go fuck themselves.

Really the point of all this is that there’s more than one way to be a man.  The ‘classic’ passing tips give one way and there’s nothing wrong with that way.  It’s just not the only way.  You have to decide what kind of man you want to be, no one else can tell you.

Once you figure that out it’s just a matter of knowing how to pull it off.  Generally, as long as you’re consistent people won’t even blink.  It’s when you try looking like a frat boy while speaking and acting like a queen that you run into problems.  The incongruence is what tends to get us read as women, not necessarily the mannerisms or even appearance.  Luckily, most of us are pretty consistent when allowed to dress and behave how we want.