Passing and Testosterone

There’s this myth that every trans guy will magically start passing after six months to a year on T.  It’s bullshit.  Flat out bullshit.

No one can tell you when you’re going to start passing.  I’ve been on T since I was 20 (I’m in my mid-20s now) and I’m still in that gender ambiguous phase.  Based on my genetics that’s likely to last until I’m in my mid to late 30s when I will finally look like a college boy.

I’ve mentioned my cousin in comments a few times, but I don’t think I’ve ever posted about him.  He’s a year older, gay, flaming, and looks almost exactly like me.  He has a Y chromosome (and therefore a penis, the lucky bastard), but other than that we could pass for twins.  Often do, actually.  Both of us get mistaken for girls on occasion, neither of us can grow facial hair worth anything, and I actually have a deeper voice.  We’ve both had our T levels checked (me for dosage, him to see if anything’s wrong) and we’re both easily within the mid range for guys.  Men in our family are just really late bloomers.

Point is, T is never going to override your genetic predispositions.  If you come from a line of really feminine looking women and late blooming men it’s going to take you longer to pass than a guy with handsome women and burly men in the family.  Relax a bit.  Go in, check your levels, see how they’re doing.  If they’re within male range you’re just going to have to sit and let your body go at its own pace.  I know this is a pain in the ass (trust me, I know), but eventually you will start passing.  Remember, the effects of T are cumulative.  Cis guys don’t go from little boy to grown man overnight.  It takes time.  That’s not something we always want to hear, but there it is.

10 Replies to “Passing and Testosterone”

  1. Also, passing often depends on who you are with and who’s looking. In queer/gay spaces, I’ve found that I was more visible and often mistaken for a butch lesbian in the early phases of transition.

    • This. As much as I love visiting home, there is no worse place for an early-T transguy than the San Francisco bay area. Maybe Boston. There are just too damned many lesbians around, everyone’s afraid of accidentally insulting one.

      I once had the pleasure (sort of) of going through SF, LA, Dallas, Philly, NYC, London, and Paris within a two week period. It was hell travel wise, but seeing how different people saw me was interesting. SF, LA, and NYC I was screwed, no one got the pronouns right. Dallas and Philly were about 50/50. London I couldn’t tell you what people thought of me because everyone skipped gendering entirely. In Paris I passed completely. Same me, same time on T (well, two shots difference, but woo), vastly different reactions.

      • It does not astonish me at all that your passing was best in Paris. French guys often tend to be small and to have relatively fine bone structures, and their body language is somewhat more feminine than the average European one (e. g. straight male French are often clocked as “gay” in Germany).

        • Haha, Americans have a similar thing with Englishmen. “Is he gay or just English?” is a fairly common question. I baffled the hell out of all my US friends when I came back from living in London and could tell right away what an English co-worker’s orientation was. Was quite fun.

          • I can imagine that very well.

            US guys tend to have a more butch gender expression than Germans, French or Englishmen.

            Germans seem more butch than Englishmen, and Englishmen more butch than Frenchman (over-generalizing here).

            Seems to be a cultural thing.

  2. From what I’ve seen, in France women and men are posh dressers, french men are small-ish und a bit effeminate, and french women (even the dykes I’ve met) mostly wear make up or femmy clothes. At the same time, genders are more separated than in the Scandinavian countries. Ideal circumstances, but I loathe the French lol.

    • There was a really big androgynous fad going through when I was there, it was perfect. All the guys looked *way* more effete than me and I found the best clothes. The shopping alone was well worth it.

      Aw, I loved all the French people I met. They were so sweet, even if they refused to let me speak French.

  3. I went on a cross country road trip last year, I started out in MA and was read as a lesbian, but in Virginia and Tennessee I was read as male, once I got to Santa Fe I was read as lesbian again, and in California I was suddenly genderless.

    • I’ve had a shit time in VA and TN. Male, sure, but in the “middle school girls are giggling and staring at me” kind of way. That’s just creepy.

  4. Thanks so much for this posting. I have been searching for a while for any conversation on when “passing” that might help me understand when it usually starts consistently happening, and all I could find initially were kind of simplistic posts about how people passed at 3 months, before T, or 100% a year after T. They were more about people saying how excited they were than about sharing information about how/why they passed (which is legitimate but not helpful to me). The only thing less helpful than these stories were the million “passing tips for guys” that peppered my search return. I’m a guy who identifies as more of a mermaid than any gender, and I’m not interested in being told how to look like “a guy.” I am, however, interested in what makes some pass and to whom and in a GENERAL timeframe for when this happens for folks. The topic of genetics and family is un(der)discussed in ftm (and mtf?) forums, and I’m really glad you delved deep into it here. I know now that my answer is “nobody fuckin knows” so I’m just going to relax and keep being me til it does.

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