Tips for the newly out

I know a number of guys who’ve made coming out/starting physical transition parts of their New Year’s resolutions in the past, so I figure I’ll throw out a few things for anyone who’s considering it for 2010.

  1. Breathe.  No, seriously.  Breathe.  If you’re scared, you’ll get through this.  We’re all a bit scared at first.  It gets easier with time.  If you’re too excited to speak, you’re going to get very annoying very quickly.  I know, it’s a big deal and you’re thrilled about getting to be yourself.  It’s still no fun to talk to someone who only ever goes on about one thing.
  2. Continue your old hobbies.  This ties into the not driving everyone insane.  If all of a sudden you start forgoing your weekly scrapbooking and gossip marathon with your best friend in favour of hanging out with your new trans friends then you don’t get to complain when your old friend ditches you.  Why?  Because you ditched them first.  It’s great to have trans friends, particularly early on when everything’s shiny and new.  There’s a balance though, don’t give up everything you used to like just because now you’re transitioning.
  3. Fuck passing.  I’m not kidding.  Fuck those stupid lists of things you “should” do in order to look like a guy.  They don’t work for everyone, they don’t even work for most people.  Passing is a combination of individual genetics, appearing comfortable in whatever you’re wearing, and putting together a cohesive look.  Pick whatever guy clothes you like, even if they’re on the nelly side.  Hell, pick out a few basic things from the women’s section if that’s what you want.  Skinny jeans look about the same no matter where they come from (just remember to pack).  Whatever you wear, make sure it matches (no pink glitter shirts with grunge metal jeans) and be confident.  People are far less likely to question you if you act like you belong.
  4. Keep your style.  This goes in with the above.  Don’t sacrifice your personal style for anything.  For that matter, don’t sacrifice any of yourself.  The entire point of transition is to be yourself, there’s no use in bothering with it if you’re just trading one set of uncomfortable mannerisms for another.  Do you like to watch HGTV?  Then watch HGTV.  No one cares.
  5. Men are not wild animals.  I cannot begin to express just how annoyed I get by all the “don’t smile” and “don’t make eye contact” passing tips.  Honestly?  Most guys are nice enough.  Most guys aren’t going to just randomly start beating you if you do something socially unacceptable (for the most part, I don’t suggest grabbing a stranger’s crotch or anything).  You might get a funny look, but really guys are like any other people.  Just usually taller and hairier.  So smile.  It makes your face look better.

13 Replies to “Tips for the newly out”

  1. I agree with everything you have to say, except “Skinny jeans look about the same no matter where they come from (just remember to pack).” I really doubt that anyone is going to have a conversation about the size of an androgynous looking person’s dick- or lack thereof- unless those jeans are really, really, really tight.
    Everything else you said is really empowering and affirming of individuality and not trying too hard to pass/ be “one of the guys”, but really? If it’s about being comfortable in your skin, and acting like you belong, having a big hunk of rubber in your pants doesn’t do that for a lot of people.
    Also, if you really mean fuck passing, there’s no need to pack.
    That said, all of your other points are great.

    • My only reason for putting that is that there’s this myth that no one looks at your crotch. They do. Studies that track people’s gaze as they meet someone new show that men and women of all sexualities immediately look at a guy’s package. Not for long, likely not even consciously. It’s still done. We’re biologically programmed to do it, social conventions just require that we not say anything.

      • Yes, studies say that we check people’s crotches. Biologically programmed- perhaps.
        However, if the point of you writing #3 was to say fuck passing, fuck trying way too hard to fit in, then fuck packing.
        What your saying is that guys should pack so that they can prove to people’s unconscious wandering eyes that they have a dick, therefore they’re male. If packing makes you more comfortable, fine, pack. Packing so that you pass to others goes against everything else you said in this post.

        • I think you may want to look at who this blog is written for. The target audience is effeminate female to male transsexuals. Not people who want to be considered in between or other or both or any other non-binary identity. The people this was written for want to be seen as male. Problem is, all passing tips are written for your average straight, masculine guy. That is what I’m trying to get away from, the idea that you have to act and dress a particular way in order to be a “real” man.

          I like skirts. I can’t wear shorts to work, but a flowy skirt is a hell of a lot more comfortable in summer than trousers. However, I’m not about to suggest that everyone reading this should wear skirts when it’s hot because they’re comfy. Why? Because it’s counter-productive to the goal most of us have. Not packing while wearing tight trousers is in that same category.

          • then maybe the title of that bullet point shouldn’t be “fuck passing”, but instead “pretend like you don’t care if you’re passing but really secretly care a whole lot”

            I don’t know, the tips and your supposed message don’t exactly equate. Everything else in this article is great, but that particular sentence is just out of line with the whole article because it suggests that you can be yourself – EXCEPT IF you forget your prosthetic because it fits you into a constructed category that you would otherwise not fit into!

            Even if you are an effeminate FTM (whatever that actually means, i’m not quite sure) If you are going to say “fuck passing” you need to accept that by saying that and embracing it as a mantra, you might fall outside the traditional cookie-cutter binary. SO WHAT! The most important thing about transitioning is completing your own ideas about who you are, right? so what does it matter what someone else thinks of you as long as when you look in the mirror you are happy with your physical representation? ( I know it *does* matter in our society what other people perceive your gender to be, but it is easier to go through life when you can, as you suggest, be confident in who you are.)

            Pack if you want to (after all, that’s what defining your own representation is all about), but not packing while wearing skinny jeans won’t make you any less of a man.

          • You said:
            “Even if you are an effeminate FTM (whatever that actually means, i’m not quite sure) If you are going to say “fuck passing” you need to accept that by saying that and embracing it as a mantra, you might fall outside the traditional cookie-cutter binary.”

            I assume the effeminate female-to-male transsexuals who read here do know what Aiden meant. I know I do.
            An effeminate ftm is basically the same as an effeminate man. Lets take Emmet Honeycut from Queer as Folk (bow to Not Aiden). He’s wearing nelly clothes and smiles a lot, he’s not wearing skirts, apart from when he is doing drag, and while people might doubt his masculinity, nobody doubts his biological maleness.
            This is how effeminate ftm identify and how we want to be seen.
            Emmet Honeycut is a very different type of person than, lets say, a gender fucking drag artist like Ocean (I can’t come up with an US example, but I guess you get what I mean http://www.kingsvillage.it/concorrenti_eng.html scroll down)
            Without wanting to start a huge discussion about words, I’d suggest that Emmet has a feminine or effeminate gender role but a male sex. While both Emmet and Ocean are “outside the cooking cutter binary” from a cis point of view, both are outside in very different places.
            Besides, the title of this post is “tips” not “rules”, so why worry? Take what you like and leave the rest.

          • The title of this blog is LIFE of a Non-Standard Gay (trans)Guy, it says nothing about the audience. Assuming that only effeminate, gay, trans guys are going to be reading this is really shortsighted. The title of this post said Tips for the Newly Out, not tips for effeminate, gay trans guys. All of the tips are useful for gay, straight, masculine, effeminate, or otherwise, trans guys. I feel the reference to gay trans guys came up later, and that it’s being used to say that gay trans men should have more of a vested interest in packing because they have a harder time passing.
            I commented on this post because there are implications for making lists like this. Saying “you don’t have to follow the rules, but if you don’t, you have to follow this rule” doesn’t benefit anyone. People who need lists like this are people who are looking for guidance, and making a list about not worrying about people’s perceptions is wonderful, but when there’s a rule to follow thrown in there, it becomes the rule that’s put on a pedestal.

        • Personally, I pack because it feels funny not to have something “down there”; it’s a big part of my dysphoria- I was always confused as a kid about not feeling anything between my legs when I expected it to be there
          So to me, packing isn’t about passing, it’s about how I just don’t feel right without doing it
          I don’t know if that’s just me but ya

  2. This was *so* written by a gay guy 😉 I just love it–

    “# Fuck passing. I’m not kidding. Fuck those stupid lists of things you “should” do in order to look like a guy. They don’t work for everyone, they don’t even work for most people. Passing is a combination of individual genetics, appearing comfortable in whatever you’re wearing, and putting together a cohesive look. ”

    “Skinny jeans look about the same no matter where they come from (just remember to pack).”

    “Whatever you wear, make sure it matches”

    “# Keep your style. This goes in with the above. Don’t sacrifice your personal style for anything. For that matter, don’t sacrifice any of yourself. The entire point of transition is to be yourself, there’s no use in bothering with it if you’re just trading one set of uncomfortable mannerisms for another.”

    I have been preaching this at drag king/passing workshops and trans events for at least 10 years. And this:

    “# Men are not wild animals. I cannot begin to express just how annoyed I get by all the “don’t smile” and “don’t make eye contact” passing tips. Honestly? Most guys are nice enough. “

  3. Wow. Aiden-who-is-actually-Aiden missed the point entirely and dragged on so long in his/her/xyr arguments that even I (a man of excessive words) couldn’t read the whole thing.

    Though of course after seeing [POSESSIVE PRONOUN] initial statement…I kinda tuned out. 😛

    I can vouch for the tendency to look downward, though. Honestly, I didn’t become conscious of how often I did it until I started coming out. Though right now I’m working on solving the chesticle problem before I get to the testicle problem…

    • I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt, but I know others won’t so I have to ask anyway. Are you trying to be an ass and use pronouns in a mocking way or do you honestly just not know which Aiden goes by?

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