Teen boys and testosterone

I normally don’t answer questions unrelated to gay trans men (or even trans men in general), but this one I felt should probably go up.

Yes, there are ways to curb testosterone production in teen cis guys.  However, this isn’t something that should be done without a good reason.  Actually, I don’t think you’ll find a doctor who will do it without a good reason.  It’s hard enough getting them to prescribe hormone blockers to young trans women.

I don’t have the knowledge required to go into this in much detail, especially not without knowing why the person in question wants to slow their/their son’s hormone production so all I can really say is talk to your family doctor.  If it’s for reasons relating to gender identity there are support groups to help you figure things out.  PFLAG has a trans-specific group called T*Families, the local chapter should be able to point you in the right direction.

Self Defense

In case anyone’s managed to not notice, the GLBT related hate crime rate is going up in the US.  We’re not the only ones, Muslims have a higher rate and it’s going up faster, but it’s something to be aware of.

Different people have different ways of handling their new (or increased) target status after coming out.  Me?  I re-enrolled myself in martial arts.  I’m not really a fighting person by nature, I’m small and fairly weak and the sight of my own blood makes me pass out.  However, I prefer my face in its current arrangement and that wasn’t happening with me doing punching bag impressions.  So I went and signed up for a kung fu refresher at my old school and threw in some judo and kick-boxing just in case.

Now, martial arts aren’t magic.  They’re not going to make you capable of taking on six guys twice your size after one lesson or anything.  At first the biggest boost was the added stamina needed to run fast until people got bored or tired.  Actually, that’s probably still my most useful skill.  Like I said, I’m not really a fighter.  It took about a month for me to get back into it enough to be able to put my old memories to any use and then another month or so before I’d developed the strength to do it well.  After that it was at least another two months before I could use the new stuff I was learning.  It’s not a quick fix, even for those of us who’ve been taking lessons since we were kids.

Even if it was, there’s more to self defense than beating up your attacker.  Legally speaking there are all kinds of rules about what you can get away with before facing criminal charges yourself.  If a guy punches you once and you beat him until he’s hospitalised, that’s no longer self defense.  As much as I like the idea of going around beating the shit out of bashers, it’s still not exactly the brightest thing to do if you want to keep yourself out of jail.  Look up laws in your state, ask a lawyer friend, whatever, just make sure you’re not going from victim to attacker.  General rule of thumb is to only inflict as much damage as necessary to escape, anything more and you’re getting into grey areas.

A few of my friends have taken to getting concealed weapons permits.  I like guns, grew up shooting rifles and I’m pretty good with a pistol.  I’m not so comfortable with the idea of carrying one around though.  First of all, guns aren’t really defensive weapons.  You pull a gun on someone and you’re looking to seriously injure them, not just get away before you get hurt.  Even if you don’t mean to, there’s no such thing as a minor gunshot wound, especially not from the distances bashers are usually at.  Second, guns are pretty easily taken away from you if there’s more than one attacker or the attacker has a big enough size advantage.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not so cool with the idea of my own gun being turned on me.  If this is something you’re considering I suggest taking a long look at the advantages and drawbacks before making a decision.

There’s also pepper spray, mace, modified weapons from every day objects, and a host of other options.  Honestly, I don’t know much beyond “try not to say anything stupid and run really fucking fast.”  I can defend myself, but it’s not something I like to do.  It’s something we should all think about though.  We can talk all we want about how any assault is wrong and how no one should have to worry about it, but the reality is that it does happen and we do have to worry about it.  We need to be prepared just in case.  It won’t make what happens to us any better, but at least we’ll stand a better chance of getting out alive.

Pulling from the search term queue

These are always a bit fun and I’m working on some stuff that takes a bit more thought so I need a break.

Do trans guys like straight girls better than bi girls?
Hell if I know, I’m not into girls at all.  I can say that I was really uncomfortable dating bi guys early in transition.  Not for the usual “omg, he’s going to cheat on me” bullshit reasons, but because I was always terrified they’d see me as more girl than guy or something in between.  It was very much my own insecurity and I’ve slowly gotten better about it as I’ve transitioned.  Other guys didn’t care or even sought out bi partners so they wouldn’t have to deal with the body issues that come up when a straight girl/gay guy dates a trans guy.  I’m sure if you look you’ll find a few trans guys who are actively biphobic as well as ones who are bi themselves.  Like everything else, it’s all down to the individual.

“gay men are misogynists”
Oh come on.  That’s like saying “straight women are homophobes”.  Some gay men are misogynists, most aren’t.  The whole “gay men hate women” idea is so 90s.

“bob marley on the kenyan internet”
o.O  WTF?  How’d you even get here?

Can FtMs like men?
Yes.  I do.  Many of the guys who read this do.  This isn’t 1970, there are no longer the same expectations that there used to be.  You can thank Lou Sullivan for that.

“not trans enough ftm”
Yeah, I don’t think I know a single trans guy who hasn’t felt that way at some point. It seems to be something of a rite of passage, especially in areas where there’s only one way to be a “real” trans guy. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, some people (including doctors and therapists) are just assholes. If transition makes you happy then go for it. You’re the only one who has to live in your body.

Do transmen menstruate?
Some. Depends on the guy and how his medical treatment (if he’s interested in any) is going.

One more Formspring: Clothes

What advice do you have for smaller transguys in terms of finding clothing? Nothing too fancy is necessary, I’m a college lad.
– Anonymous

How small and what kind of proportions?  I’m short with dancer/gymnast proportions (long, lean arms and legs, no torso to speak of) so I tend to go with either boys’ sizes or smaller men’s sizes in slim cuts.

If you’re more square or just out of kid sizes I’d go with places like H&M and TopMan, anywhere that stocks a men’s XS/XXS (usually these places cater to metro and/or emo college boys).  If you can afford it, Abercrombie (kids, not A&F) has a nice selection of clothes in the “between boys’ and men’s” size range.  For anyone who can get to a Celio, I maintain their shirts are magic.  I end up wearing the same size as a far better built friend, it’s awesome.

I also recommend learning to sew.  I know, you’re probably busy enough with college, but it’s a great way to get well fitting clothes for very little money.  Besides, it means that if you find something you like that needs a tiny bit of alteration you can do it yourself.

Swimming for pre-top FtMs

Summer is approaching those of us north of the equator and with summer come pools, beaches, and assorted other ways to drive any trans man crazy. It’s hot out so you want to cool down, but swimtrunks don’t even come close to covering breast tissue (thank god, that’d look horrible). What’s a guy to do?

Enter the rashguard. Originally designed for surfing, rash guards are essentially very thin t-shirts that are cool and dry quickly so you’re not still soaked 20 minutes after laying in the sun. Where I grew up we’d wear boardshorts and rashguards all summer long, but in recent years they’ve extended beyond the coasts.

The biggest advantage to rashguards is that you can bind under them with little problem. For trans men who aren’t out to the people around them, rashguards paired with boardshorts are also fairly gender-neutral. If you’re a very small guy like me they’re easy enough to find in the kids’ section.

Can’t find a rashguard? Go to an athletic store and find the moisture-wicking tops. Just about any one will do, biggest thing to check for is whether or not your method of binding will show through.

Of course, you could just wear a t-shirt or tank top. My biggest reason not to is that they take forever to dry which is a pain in the ass if you’re at the beach or camping. They also look…like you’re wearing a t-shirt or tank top. This can pose problems when people ask why you won’t take off your shirt or unknowing mothers start bugging you to put on a real swimsuit. Rashguards and moisture-wicking tops look enough like they belong in the water that people tend to ignore them.

One last question that seems to pop up a lot is whether or not binders can be worn in pools. I’ve not done any scientific testing or anything, but I can say that my first year of binding I owned only one double-front from Underworks. That thing got worn every day for at least eight hours and machine washed with chlorine bleach. It managed pools, beaches, and lakes just fine for the three years before it finally wore out. Even then I probably could’ve gotten another year out of it with some additional reinforcement, but it was pretty damned funky so I passed.

Depression and Trans-ness

I’ve been meaning to get around to this post for over a month now, I just haven’t been sure how to word it.  I’ve decided that I probably won’t ever be entirely sure so I’m going to wing it and see what happens.

As everyone should probably know, there is an incredibly high incidence of depression and suicide amongst trans people.  I don’t know if gay and trans corresponds to an even higher risk because, well, no one has ever bothered to ask.  Either way, it’s a common enough problem.  Some of us have situational depression due to constantly being misgendered, others have chemical depression and would be just as depressed even with all the right parts.  I don’t know what it’s like to have situational depression so this is going to focus on the chemically based type.

I was first diagnosed when I was six.  You’re probably thinking that’s pretty early, but when a child that young is found trying to rig up a noose there’s not a whole lot else to try blaming it on.  At that point anti-depressants were 100% not prescribed to children.  They were barely prescribed to teenagers.  So rather than use me as a human guinea pig my parents sought out alternative treatments.  I was put in martial arts, given positive thinking techniques, and taught a variety of coping mechanisms for the more terrifying aspects of my illness.

Prior to transition I’d had several major depressive episodes per year and a suicide attempt at least every other year.  It got particularly bad when I was a teenager and went down to a semi-manageable level shortly before I came out.  I wasn’t functional by any means, we’re still talking about spending several months a year not being able to leave my bed, but after years of having hallucinations of corpses and having to lock myself in my closet every week in order to stop myself from trying anything I was happy to just be able to chop up salad ingredients without imagining what it’d feel like to slit my wrists.

When I came out things got even better.  One of the things every friend told me was that I finally seemed happy, an emotion no one had seen me express before.  That was when I started getting stupid.

See, every trans guy I knew talked about how amazing it was to come out and how it was even  better when they started T.  They talked about mood swings and having to get just the right dose on just the right schedule, but the overall message was that T would all but make depression disappear.

It didn’t.  I want to make that very clear.  T will not cure depression.  It can do many things, including make dysphoria related depression more bearable, but chemically based depression does not go away simply because you have more testosterone in your system.  It changed the biochemistry of my brain enough that my depression is the best it’s been my entire life, but I am still depressed.  I still have days when I cannot for the life of me get the energy to move out of bed.  I still have feelings of intense hopelessness that will not go away no matter how hard I try to think positively.  I still get suicidal for no apparent reason.  I still have hallucinations when I’m in the midst of a particularly bad episode.

Very few people outside of my therapists have managed to fully understand that.  I am not depressed because I am trans.  I am not trans because I am depressed.  I am depressed.  I am trans.  The two are not related.

Yes, random Googler, you can get off after lower surgery

At least, everything I’ve read and everyone I’ve talked to has said it’s possible.

Other questions that have come up recently:

– NO, gay men who date trans men are NOT straight.  Honestly people, we’ve gone over this a million times already.

– NO, you cannot put your guy name on your FAFSA before you’ve legally changed it.  I’m sorry, but you’re just going to have to deal with it.

– YES, you can be gay and trans.  See the rest of this blog.

– NO, colleges and universities in the US are not required to place FtM students in male dorms (in the vast majority of states, there are exceptions).  There is no federal law stating that you have a right to a dorm that matches your gender identity, it’s all up to state and local laws and how accommodating the school in question is willing to be.  Some places are better than others, ask questions and look around before you make a final decision.

– YES, your high school/college/whatever can make a rule stating that you must wear a dress to graduation (assuming of course that there’s no protection for trans* people in the non-discrimination policy).  It sucks, but it’s allowed in the workplace as well.  Women can be required to wear dresses and skirts as long as their dress code is not considered more of a burden than men’s.  The good news is that often if you explain the situation to enough people (calmly, rationally, and politely) you can get an exception made.

– NO, trans men who like pink are not automatically genderqueer.  Don’t get me started on this one again, I’ll just end up ranting.

– YES, there will be a real post again soon.  Just been busy lately.

Creating a grown up wardrobe

Hi, my name is NotAiden and I am a shopaholic.

I.  Love.  Clothes.  Always have, I just love matching textures and colours and creating a unique outfit.  However, when I came out I had no idea about how to build a professional man’s wardrobe.  Professional woman sure, but man?  Don’t you just throw on a button shirt and coat and be done with it?  Besides, I could never wear any of that tailored stuff, my boobs would show!  For years I stuck with a slightly modified version of the traditional transman uniform: polo shirt, jeans, sneakers.  My polo was plain coloured and worn tighter than any self-respecting straight boy would consider, my jeans were hip huggers, and my sneakers had never seen athletic work of any kind, but I still dressed like a college kid.  Just a gay college kid.

Then I started working in a place that absolutely, 100% required dress shirt and slacks.  I cannot begin to tell you how bad I looked.  Bright shirts in a way that screamed “send me back to the 80s!” instead of the “yeah, I’m gay, so what?” look I was going for.  A couple of years after that and I’m suddenly giving presentations to new grads about how to dress professionally.  How on earth did I get here?  I have no idea, but while I was talking to all these guys who aren’t that much younger than me I realised that a lot of what I was saying would be useful to trans guys — particularly those of us who are in professional environments or about to be.  College kids and those of you in more creative fields can ignore this, your dress rules are different.

Let’s start with the basics.  All of these are a bit boring and will probably make most of you go “but I want to express myself!”  Don’t worry, they’re just the foundation.  Once you have these taken care of you can start adding pieces that are trendy or unique.

First up: a basic white dress shirt.  Yes, it’s dull.  It’s also classic.  Every guy needs a white cotton dress shirt in his closet.  Why?  So that when the great guy your best friend set you up with says he’s made reservations at a restaurant that has a dress code (and is WAY out of your price range) you don’t have to run out and hope you find one at 3AM.

Details: Plain white cotton.  No polyester or silk, no peaking, no button down collars, no stripes, nothing.  You want this to be so basic that you barely even notice it.  That way it goes with everything.  Cuff type is up to you, but I recommend standard button because that way it can be paired with a sweater.  I love French cuffs (cuff links = more accessories) so I have two versions of this with different cuffs.  The button cuff is for sweaters and slightly more traditional events, the French cuff is for everything else.

Fit: See this picture?  It’s perfect.  If you’re slim and post-top or really small chested, go ahead and get yours a bit tighter.  Just be aware that you may need to replace it more quickly than you’d like, especially if you’re currently pre-T.  Do NOT buy a shirt that you can “grow into”.  We’re not children any more, our clothes should fit properly.  There is very little that looks more sloppy than a grown man in a dress shirt a size too large for him.  Other major don’t: NEVER wear this shirt untucked.  Jeans, khakis, dress slacks, doesn’t matter.  Tuck in your shirt.

What are you wearing with that shirt?  A pair of flat front grey trousers.  Not jeans (not for that expensive restaurant anyway), not black trousers, certainly not shorts.  Why not black?  It’s not versatile enough and too formal for many occasions.  Grey can go from business casual to formal and be paired with brown and navy, you can’t do that with black.

Details: Flat front.  Slate to charcoal (yes, those are different colours).  Lightweight wool.  No cuff unless you’re tall.  This is another item that you barely notice.  If after you’ve been on T a few years (or if you’re not planning on starting T in the near future) you find a brand that fits well and comes in several different shades of grey I suggest snatching them all up at once.  A good pair of dress trousers is worth gold, especially in the pre-T years when you’re trying to mask a female body type.

Fit: Again, look at the picture.  They’re not falling off his ass, but they’re also not so snug you can see his balls.  You want a pair that will just rest where they need to be without a belt.  Notice that this man does have a bit of hip and butt.  Not a huge amount, most of us probably have more pre-T, but he’s not a perfectly straight line either.  It’s not until you get down past his butt that his trousers shift to hanging straight down.  They’ll continue to go until they hit his ankle where they will make ONE clean crease as they connect to the top of his shoe.  If you’re not sure about length err on the side of long and find a good tailor.

Ok, you’ve got your shirt and trousers picked out, now what?  It’s spring and a bit chilly outside?  Well that’s why you have a selection of sweaters in your closet.  I like cashmere, but if you can’t afford that (I can’t always) there’s also your standard acrylic, wool, and poly-cotton blend.

Details: Single colour.  Lightweight.  Crewneck.  Have at least one grey, one black, one navy, and one brown, the other colours are up to you.  I have a HUGE selection of sweaters because they’re an easy way to change the tone of an outfit.  Spring Pride planning?  Baby pink.  Christmas dinner?  Cranberry red.  Shabbat service?  Sky blue.  Ribbing, different neck styles, and a rainbow of colours are all fine here, that’s why we’re wearing neutrals for our slacks and shirt.

Fit: Loose enough to not show odd creases over your dress shirt, but tight enough to fit nicely under a blazer.  Once again, the picture is about right (are we sensing a pattern here?).  Sleeves should still comfortably reach your wrists when your arms are extended, but not go past the crease where your thumb meets your hand.  Wear your nice shirt when you go try these on, that way you don’t come home with a bunch of wrong sizes.  (Oh, and don’t wash your cashmere sweaters, their lifespan increases drastically if you dry clean them.)

Alright, second date time.  This time you’re going somewhere a bit more casual first, maybe to a movie or nice little cafe in the arts district.  You don’t want to be too dressy, but you want to look nice.  This is where your jeans come in.

Details: Semi-dark wash.  Boot cut.  Bit of fading and whiskering at the hips and thighs.  Why boot cut?  It looks good on just about everyone without being too casual.  It’s classic, but also trendy, if you look at older celebrities (and by ‘older’ I mean above 25-30) you’ll notice that they mostly wear medium to dark boot cut jeans.  The fading and whiskering make them look comfortable with a t-shirt, but still dressy enough to be paired with your nice shirt.

Fit: Snug around the hips and butt, slim through the knee, loose from knee down.  There’s also a style called “relaxed boot cut” or “casual boot cut” that works very well for guys who are either thick (muscular, heavy, or big boned, doesn’t much make a difference in jeans) or gangly because it allows for a bit more room in the seat.  Should rest just below your navel, touch lower if you’re pre-T and need to mask womanly hips.  Other than that, just make sure the bottoms don’t drag on the ground when you walk.  If you’re short (like me) you can take longer jeans into your tailor and ask that that they keep the bottom seam when they’re adjusting the length.  This is another where I suggest snatching up every pair you can afford once you find a brand and size that fits well.  Jeans change so often that it can be difficult to find the right ones even a year later.

Between the jeans and white shirt you’re all set for a cafe, but what if after that you guys are going to see a bit of community theatre?  Jeans are a bit casual so you’ll need to dress them up with more than a shirt and sweater.  Luckily, you own a black blazer.

Details: Black.  Three button.  Lightweight wool.  Single breasted.  No pattern, stripes, obvious buttons, or other accenting.  If you want to go crazy with your other blazers go right ahead, but you should have at least one boring type in your closet.  I suggest also having a navy and a grey for different occasions, but black will dress up jeans better.  Three buttons help with that and also look good on just about everyone.

Fit: Slim, but loose enough to go over a sweater.  You want there to be just the tiniest bit of shirt peeking past the cuffs when you bend your arm.  See the picture for an idea and if you’re not sure go to a good suit/tuxedo store for a fitting.  If you’re pre-T and get funny looks pretend you’re 12 and being sent to a fancy boarding school.  (No, seriously, the conversations alone are worth it.)  Never button the bottom button, always do the middle one (when standing, when seated you unbutton it), and do the top if you like the way it looks.  Never put your coat on the back of your chair unless you plan on never resting against it.  Majority of people won’t notice, but the most posh will see it as a sign of poor breeding and it’ll put horrible wrinkles in the fabric.  If you’re warm there are coat checks for just this reason.

You’ve gone on two dates with this guy, but now you have to go away for a weekend (sorry) to see your brother get married.  Obviously you’re going to need a suit.  You don’t want black because that’s usually for funerals, it’s a spring wedding so navy is a bit dark, but tan is a bit light, and you’re certainly not going to wear white.  In comes the classic grey suit.

Details: Single breasted.  Two or three button.  Lightweight wool.  Plain as you can get.  This is the least offensive, easiest to forget suit you can find.  Presidents and Prime Ministers wear various shades of grey for a reason.  You want to look like your suit could just as easily be worn today or in 1912.  If you don’t have many reasons to wear a suit you can get a coat in the same fabric as your grey trousers instead.  If you’re going to wear suits often I suggest having at least a light and dark grey in addition to your pinstripes, blacks, navies, etc.  If you really like the dressed up look get three piece suits so you can opt for or against the vest (waistcoat to the non-Americans).

Fit: Tailored.  Go and get fitted, it’s worth the money and you usually get a discount on whatever you buy that day.  Scope out a few places first though, you want to see well dressed businessmen making up most of the clientele.  American or Euro cut is up to you, I opt for three-piece Italian because I’m a snob and American cuts make me look bulky.  Once again, never do up the last button on your coat.  On a vest it’s optional, but most people skip it so they have a bit more moving room.

These next few are largely US-centric, though I’ve seen an Englishman here and there wear them as well.  Not so much with the French and Danish guys so if you live outside the US check out your local men before buying anything.

First we have the classic khaki/light coloured chino.  These are for casual office days, family picnics, and any other time you want to be dressier than jeans, but more casual than wool.

Details: Flat front.  Light to dark tan.  I suggest a colour darker than this and closer to what you’d find at Old Navy if you’re only going to have one pair.  This light and you really don’t want to wear them pre-Easter or post-Labour Day, it looks a bit silly.

Fit: Same as your grey trousers.  You can wear these a teeny tiny bit longer than dress trousers, but I prefer to err on the side of dressy just in case I need to wear them somewhere I need to be impressive.  Just make sure they’re not too tight, khakis show off an overly-large bulge much easier than jeans and usually a bit easier than dress trousers.  You don’t want to look like you’ve got an erection at the company picnic.

A good pair of knee-length shorts are essential for most US summers and many US springs.  Hell, I needed these for a few winters in California.  Khaki is a good colour that goes with everything and can be either “dressy” (for those company picnics you don’t have an erection at) or casual.  Just please don’t wear them on your European tour, you make the rest of us look frumpy.

Details: Flat front.  Khaki, olive, or tan.  Knee-length.  The rest is all about personal preference.  I know guys who love these shorts, but I wouldn’t buy them because I like mine to look good even when they’re all crumpled because I left them in the dryer for three days.

Fit: As long as they cover your ass and come to your knees (no lower!) you’re fine.  One of the advantages to shorts is that they’re considered casual wear so there aren’t as many rules to follow.

Yes, that is the dreaded polo shirt.  I want you to notice a few things though.  It’s plain.  It’s worn without an under-shirt.  It’s well fitted.  It’s tucked in.  This is how well-dressed adult men wear their polo shirts.  The only time this rule is not applied is when the shirt is worn with casual shorts (like my rumpled ones).  You don’t wear a polo shirt with jeans therefore you never have to worry about whether or not to tuck it in.

Details: Get a black one and then pick your favourite colours.  I have a baby pink and a turquoise blue.  If you wear polo shirts more often you’ll want to get more, but my job requires dress shirt and slacks so I don’t have need for many.

Fit: Like the picture, generally.  Sleeves shouldn’t go past the elbow, stomach and chest shouldn’t stretch, and it should be long enough to tuck in.  The major exception to this is if you never need to wear one with slacks.  The only time I wear my polo shirts are when I’m also wearing shorts so mine are all fit to rest just below my belt line.

Now we move on to the finishing details: coats, shoes, belts, and one more sweater.  We’ll start with what you’re wearing with your nice grey trousers and suit: black dress shoes.

Details: Black.  Slip on.  Leather (or faux-leather if you’re vegan).  Why black?  They can be both dressy and semi-casual so you don’t have to worry about whether to wear black or brown to that dinner with your boyfriend’s boss.  The slip on is for the same reason.  These are actually a bit more formal than I would recommend for a foundation pair, but they’re just so pretty.

Fit: …You do know how to buy shoes, right?  This is one of those things that doesn’t really change based on sex.  They either fit or they don’t.  Snug enough to stay on, but loose enough that they don’t hurt your feet.  There are charts and weird measuring thingies.

Obviously you need something to keep up your trousers and suspenders/bracers went out in the 50s.  This is why you will own a basic black, leather (or faux-leather), silver buckled belt.

Details: This exact belt.  It’s so classic that you can find one at about every clothing store in the world.  I don’t care what your other belts look like, you should have at least one like this.  Why?  Because it goes with everything from your suit to your khaki shorts.  If you want one with a hidden buckle or braided leather you can get that too, but make sure you have this first.  Otherwise you’ll be trying to find a belt that doesn’t dress down your suit or dress up your jeans and end up having to make a midnight trip to Target.

Fit: It should.

If you live in a warm climate you can ignore this one.  For the rest of us, this is an example of an appropriate coat to go with your suit and/or dress trousers.   It’s warm, it’s classy, it goes with jeans as well as slacks, it won’t be out of style by next winter.

Details: Black.  Wool.  No embellishments, fancy buttons, or anything else that would make it stand out.  You want a coat that’s easy to mistake for someone else’s when you’re grabbing it off the rack.  I always opt for a pea coat because I think they look cool and I have the long arms and legs to pull it off.  Most shorter guys will want to go with a single breasted option, same with wider guys.  If you’re tall and lean you can get away with most anything.

Fit: Large enough to go over a suit coat, but slim enough so you don’t look like you stole it from a 300 pound sailor.  Like everything else, the picture is a great example.

For the times when you want to dress down your jeans and khakis or dress up your shorts you’ll want a pair of brown athletic oxfords.  They’re nicer than sneakers, but more casual than your dress shoes.  And if you need to you can run a heck of a lot faster in them.

Details: Brown.  Versatile.  Lace-up.  You want these to be able to go from a Saturday morning meeting to your niece’s soccer game without looking out of place.  I just bought myself this exact pair, but if you want to go even more versatile you could get something more like these.  Still casual enough for jeans, khakis, and most shorts, but you could also wear them to dress down your grey trousers (but not your suit!) which isn’t something you could easily do with the shoes pictured.

Fit: They’re shoes.  They should fit like shoes.  One special note though: if you’re wearing these with a belt the belt should be brown.  Always match your shoes and belt.  It’s one of those stupid little rules that people notice subconsciously.

Other things you should have, but lack real “rules”:

– Sandals to wear with your shorts.  Not Birkenstocks or the cheap, plastic and foam things you get at the dollar store.  Grown man sandals.  Leather/faux-leather, brown, and dressy enough to wear to company barbeque.  I opt for a more closed style because I always manage to lose them if there’s not a strap in the back, but go with what makes you comfortable.

– Swim trunks.  If you’re pre-top add a rash guard as well.  If you just want a classic type that blends in go with a solid coloured pair that hits near the knee.  If you’re me and you like freaking out the HRC crowd you can get a hot pink, glittery booty short style.

– Casual sweaters.  Note that I said sweaters, not hoodies.  You want something that’ll look appropriate with your dress slacks and khakis.  No, college and/or team sweatshirts do not count.  I prefer military styles in grey and navy, other guys like cable knits and fisherman sweaters.

– Whatever it is you want to wear for lounging around your house on the weekends.  I am a complete and total slob when I don’t have to leave my apartment.  I will spend all weekend in my underwear if I can get away with it.

And the final rule: break the rules.  These are just basics, they should take up a teeny tiny portion of your closet.  I have pinstripe suits, button shirts with graphic designs, belts made from silk ties, and a million other things that wouldn’t be put on here because they’re trendy and artistic instead of timeless and classic.  I rarely wear my polo shirts or shorts and I don’t even own a pair of khakis because my job and home life don’t give me reasons to.  However, I wear black dress shirts with some sort of embellishment almost every day for work.  Use this as a barometer instead of checklist.

Guest Post: Advice to newly out gay trans men

Three gay FTM old-timers have gathered the following tips that might help you to become part of the gay community.

Personality and Dress

  • While you may feel the need to play with your masculinity and put on personas while you figure things out, please use an editing eye. For instance, say you like having a big bulge. Instead of going for the biggest one in the store, take it back a notch and get a medium-sized one to start. Same goes with other things like mannerisms. Perhaps you still sing-song like a typical woman and you’d like to start “speaking like a man”. Well, you could make your voice super monotonous and lacking of any emotion (how boring!), or you could find a balance between expressing yourself and embodying a stereotype of a man. You get to choose, so do it wisely.
  • If you must wear baggy clothes to feel comfortable during the early stages of transition, please do not continue after starting T. Your body shape will change, the hips will disappear (for the most part) and guys pants will start to fit well. This is when you need to update your wardrobe. This ties into learning to feel right in your body after so many years of hating it, so you must unlearn your old habits of dress. Start watching how men wear their clothes – you’ll start to see that looking like a 15 year old boy isn’t really that attractive. Find your own style.
  • Don’t use gay men as something of a guinea pig for your experiments with masculinity. While it is ok to be adventurous and curious about sex, it is not ok to be so while looking down on or being disgusted by the people that you date.
  • Don’t become a caricature of a gay man. You are not required to swish, squeal, giggle and wiggle but if you do, just make it your own and not copy your mannerisms from other people. Be natural and let the gay man inside come out but don’t force it.
  • You will try things on that don’t fit and some that do. If you’ve tried X and you find you don’t like it, then don’t do it, regardless of how many trans men have told you that you must do X in order to pass. If you like Y and every trans man you’ve met has told you to never do Y in order to pass, then keep doing it. Courage of conviction is a must when you are in the early stages – you must stick to your guns and believe you are who you say you are despite many others trying to convince you otherwise. And whenever someone says that you will only pass if you do X, Y, or Z is simplifying the entire process and leaving out the most important part – your happiness.
  • It doesn’t hurt to be creative in dress and hairstyle. Be delicious.

Social Aspects

  • Forget what you learned about gay men from the media and start learning from actual gay men.
  • Recognize the diversity of gay men, because they’re not all the same, just as not all trans men are the same.
  • Don’t throw slurs around until you know which ones are being reclaimed/used in your particular area.
  • Do not mock gay men and/or gay culture.  Most guys don’t mean to do this, but it’s the one that’s likely to piss people off the most — and alienate you from any stealth trans guys who may be watching. Do NOT make fun of anyone until you are close enough that everyone knows it’s friendly. Don’t make gay jokes, don’t whine about Peter Pan syndrome or immature queens, don’t suddenly start acting like Kurt from Glee when really you’re more like Artie. It’s a vastly annoying phase that many guys (cis or trans) go through and the more you can avoid it the better.
  • When you go to a new gay male place, just stay in the background for a while, and learn how people are behaving.  There are lots of rituals, the way people flirt and make contact. Make friends, get to know people.  If you behave well and people know and like you, gay men will approach you easily, often even when you are not passing yet. Men are easy to understand and easy to have, not like with women.
  • Remember that gay men are independent and much less group-oriented than women/lesbians are.  Men don’t control each other the way women do.  They don’t do the telepathy/empathy thing.   When a man says something, it is implied that he says it only about himself.  Never expect that he will check in if he might somehow hurt you with what he says, because he is only speaking about himself.
  • Be entertaining and friendly. Many gay guys make an art of being a good conversationalist, and good manners are certainly something that will endear you to people. Be funny, or if you can’t, be kind.
  • Gay men actually like men. As in, really like them – not just men’s bodies, but men’s culture, men’s ways of relating to each other, the way men smell and taste and sound. A certain amount of misandry is tolerated among lesbians and the genderqueer types, and even among straight women, and it’s easy to soak that up, but gay men can smell it and it turns them off (even as potential friends) before you even open your mouth.
  • Don’t act like you’ve figured out how to be a man that is somehow how better than the versions you see from cis men. You’re not going to earn any friends that way and you certainly won’t get laid if you complain about all the misogyny and sexism you see. Cis gays are real people and they deserve respect, even if that means biting your tongue at times. Pick your battles. If you must call someone out for misogyny or sexism, do it in a funny or polite manner – they are your potential friends and mates, not pawns of the enemy.
  • If you have trouble finding your place, don’t fret, you just haven’t met the right people yet.


  • Know yourself and know what you want/don’t want. When you want something, you have to take care of it yourself.  Don’t expect that your partner will somehow think for you.  You have to be outspoken at all times.  Say no and say yes immediately.  A guy will never sense that something is wrong with you, because he expects that you take responsibility for your boundaries and needs, just as he is taking for his own.  Be outspoken about it without being bitchy.
  • Socialize with cis men as friends before you try to date or sleep with them. If you can’t get along as one of the guys, figure out the problem before you start trying to bring a sexual element into it. Straight women can get laid with guys they don’t like and can’t relate to (usually with guys who similarly don’t like and can’t relate to girls), but gay men expect at least a little bit of common ground, even the ones looking for NSA (no strings attached) stuff.
  • Don’t be too aggressive and not take no for an answer. Shrug the rejection off and move on to the next guy.  There will be guys that don’t feel comfortable sleeping with trans man and you must accept this.
  • Don’t cry transphobia for everything – no one likes to be called a douchebag for no reason. This is especially true when getting turned down for sex, it’s not always because we’re trans. “Not my type” encompasses everything from clothes to hair to height to genitals to sexual interests. I know I’ve turned down trans guys for reasons unrelated to their crotch, cis gay guys should have that option too.
  • Don’t be grossed out by stuff. If it isn’t your piece of cake, just leave. There are other places. Don’t give people the feeling that they are perverted or something.
  • Don’t go into a gay male back room with a group of early transition FTM, (esp. when the guys who are in there have known you as a lesbian for years) and demand that they have sex with you. If the guys feel uneasy about it, don’t call them transphobic – that won’t enhance your chances to fuck them.

Bonus material:

Norah Vincent talks about her experiences with passing in straight male communities:


Written by ShipofFools, Kian and Not Aiden.

Requisite disclaimer: All opinions expressed in guest posts are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NotAiden.  (Except where they do…gotta love group efforts.)