Dear Miss Erisis,
I am stuck between two conflicting approaches, schools of thought, with regard to the idea of “passing.”
I know that I am currently not happy with the way I am perceived based on the way I look. Even more basically, I am unhappy just looking at my Homer Simpson dark ring around mouth (no matter how hard I shave) and other parts of my body. If the voice counts, then count that in: it makes me really uneasy to hear the low croaking of me.
One part of me, the iron feminist, says: “Screw it. We don’t shave our legs because we don’t need to pass to anyone else. We don’t go by their standards; we go by our own.”
The other part of me is telling me that “In order to be really you, and happy with you, there are some changes that could help.”
So it’s basically “be yourself as you are now, screw what other people think” versus “be yourself and change,” as paradoxical as it sounds.
Sincerely, Conflicted T
Ah, dear Connie T. I don’t think it’s that paradoxical at all really! I have these same conflicts. The way I resolve them, as far as that’s even possible, is to simply try to be the best woman I can be. And really, that’s all any woman, trans or cis can do anyway.
I try to accept myself as I am and strive to make myself better. I work with what I have and work toward correcting the things that bother me personally. My experience also is that change in itself is inevitable. We all change. And I would sort of join together the statements you made above to be instead: “Be yourself as you want to be, as you are happy being, screw what other people think.” Because ultimately it’s your life and your journey. So if you’re changing anyway, do it for you.
That said; allow me to address one of your more specific difficulties. I fully sympathize with your “beard blue” problem (black beard shows as blue through skin). I hate, hate, hate that I still have to shave every day. It’s painful and it reminds me that I have spent part of my life being perceived as the wrong gender. I hope one day, rather sooner than later, to be able to afford electrolysis or laser clearance. Until then, though, I cope. Some days, I just say, “Screw it, this is me, and stubble or not, I know I am a woman.” And I do the best I can.
I’m happy to share a simple makeup trick I’ve learned. Most days I don’t wear the stuff, if I’m being honest it’s probably more to do with laziness and a busy life than any moral stance. My friend Sky likes to remind me often of my teenage tirades about the importance of wearing makeup. But some days, I do find it useful, like if I’m doing a public appearance or attending something for which I’m also dressing up a bit more, or if I’m just going out and want to feel pretty.
Even then, I don’t like to wear too much. My constant makeup mantra is, “keep it simple, and use less.” However, “less” means the beard blue still often shows. What I do is use a combination of colored powders and concealers to counteract it. Inexpensive, easy-to-find stuff, I might add.
Typically, I use a light layer from a green concealer stick of the sort used to cover blemishes, to cover any red razor rash on my face. Blend. Then I use a skin-tone concealer stick (find one that matches your complexion; I’m very Irish with fairly pinkish tones) to cover the whole beard lightly. Blend again. Follow with some red blush powder over the still-showing bluish parts of the beard. And some green powder to blend out the still-red parts, including non-beard reddish parts like my nose and, in summer, my forehead.
I cover all this with a neutral skin-tone loose mineral powder. Then I do my eyes, lips, etc., as I see fit. It sounds like a lot, but it’s a pretty light base that avoids a heavy foundation and it looks pretty natural. Basically, the green neutralizes red and red neutralizes blue. Yay for color theory!
Also, if I have a long day, I find that the slightly waxy concealer tends to keep the beard from growing through or at least hides any stubble pretty effectively until I get home. It lets me worry a little less about turning into a pumpkin at midnight!
And regarding your voice, as someone who speaks professionally, I would say to think of it as an instrument. Practice using it and changing it. There are all sorts of options out there, from videos on YouTube to professional voice coaches.
Try not to worry so much about how deep your voice is. Concentrate on learning how it works, on how to play with it. Listen to women speak. Concentrate on their inflection and tone rather than their pitch. You will find that many women actually have fairly deep voices.
Practice singing. It will help you understand how to fine-tune your instrument. Basically, all any of us can do is try to deal with the present and strive toward the future. Slainte!
* Lorelei Erisis, former Miss Trans New England, can be contacted at: loreleierisis@