My friend, assigned female at birth, pronouns she/her at least for now, is wearing a packer. She likes the way it feels, how it makes her feel. She’s talking about it more, too. My idea of butch lesbian style had not moved on from denims and DMs, and a particular hair cut: I see the haircuts are more varied, and men’s jackets and ties are in. It is very close to dressing as men. I don’t think they are trying to pass as men, and the voice would make that difficult. You need T, and most people need chest masculinisation, to pass as a man: it grows facial hair, produces male pattern baldness, and alters the voice. Even with T, many would not pass as men before someone attuned to checking them out, as the voice and face shape can be distinctive, as well as physical size and waist to hip ratio. Facial masculinisation…
(pause to Google)
Oh gosh, facial masculinisation is a thing! Augmenting the adam’s apple, altering the nose, producing “a more chiseled and defined chin and jawline”, forehead and cheekbone treatments… “Since 2015”, the website says, and probably for a few intrepid and determined people before then.
Anyway. You can probably but not certainly pass, with extensive surgery and hormone treatment; or you can just put on a jacket and tie. You can change your name if you like.You should be able to decide your own pronouns.
I tend to feel that you will be accepted by others if you accept yourself. People will pick up on your self-consciousness or self-confidence, and often reinforce it; if you think you’re all right, others will too. Some people conform, and some cannot. Those who cannot or will not, if they have sufficient brass neck to face it out, others take them at their own estimation.
Regular readers know what I think about the “Some people are trans, and need surgery and hormones” argument- it’s doubtful. Trans people insist it’s “Dysphoria”- we get shirty when others talk of dysmorphia, which is a matter of dislike of body shape, as in BIID. People undergo surgery for self-acceptance, societal acceptance, and sexual performance. It’s a crutch. You’re not being yourself, you are conforming to an ideal you think people will grudgingly accept.
Surgery for self-acceptance is a blind alley. It will make you a “true transsexual” but being that is no improvement on being a feminine man or a masculine woman. I have the additional thing to accept: not just who I am, but what I have done. I paid to be castrated in a fruitless, foredoomed attempt at Acceptance. Some say they will tolerate a trans woman in women’s changing rooms post-op, and that means they will strongly object to a glimpse of a penis. I found swimming pool changing rooms less threatening after the op, but that is a high price to pay. Some people are more likely to tolerate you if you have surgery, but is that worth it?
As for sexual performance, everyone has to learn how their body works, and changing it won’t necessarily increase pleasure. You can still orgasm post-op, but I find that I do so far less often, and others probably do too.
So, what about just cross-dressing, for trans women? The more you do it, the more going back to presenting male becomes unpleasant, and at last unbearable. It is associated with sex in a way women’s jackets are not: high heels put you in a female courting position, while women put on make-up to please themselves, and to look good to other women, etc, etc, it makes them attractive to men; it is a turn-on, as well as a way of expressing your true self and relaxing. That we may be aroused when dressed female is used by our opponents to falsely suggest we are a danger in women’s space.
Someone I know wears skirts without any attempt to pass as female. Their pronouns are “They/their”. It is brave.
Or you could dress as a fop, or dandy, pushing or transgressing boundaries with a silk scarf.
It is hard being a feminine male. Society denigrates feminine characteristics, though everyone has them and they are necessary. I don’t have an answer here for anyone else, for I have not reached one for myself. Trying to be manly was a painful failure, as was moulding myself to a box marked “transsexual”: to be myself I hardly know how to start. When I say society should be more tolerant, it could be that I am projecting, that I need to tolerate myself better. Whatever, I am delighted that my friend is enjoying packing, and hope it does not mean she will seek surgery.