Since I live the majority of my life presenting as a boy most of my experiences with the world are a reflection of that presentation.
In male mode, I am aware of when I say something the person I am speaking to not only listens to what I am saying but they are also considering that a masculine presenting person is saying it to them. If I am describing something to a feminine presenting person I choose my words very carefully so she hopefully doesn’t feel I am manspaining it to them.
Another example. A female colleague can compliment another colleague on her cute dress and if I were to say the exact same words as she used, it may very well come off as, well, creepy.
When I am tempted to compliment a girl on her makeup or her outfit, I am doing it from the perspective of Hannah, even if I am in male mode. As a t-girl, I absolutely appreciate and admire amazing lipstick shades BUT in male mode the girl I am speaking to doesn’t know about my other gender identity. For all she knows I am just a creep staring too long at her winged eyeliner.
I don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable around me… in either of my gender presentations. In male mode I know I can come off as looking unfriendly and intimidating. I am over six feet tall and I look strong. If I haven’t slept well or haven’t shaven in a few days I come off as a little scary looking. When I am out walking my dog (also rather large) and I see a young woman out for a run I am well aware she has looked at both of us and likely registered us a potential threat to her.
And for understandable reasons. I don’t take this personally and the reality is that every woman I know is always aware of where they are and who is nearby. The last thing I would ever do is intentionally harm someone and I regret that I LOOK like a threat. I work for a college and almost every female student I work with asks about campus security and campus safety. Not a single guy asks about this.
Another thing I’ve learned is never, ever tell a woman to smile. That realization came hand-in-hand with learning that presenting as a cis male there are things I should never say to a woman.
And I know there are a lot of guys who defend their comments as compliments or insisting they would be flattered if a girl said they looked handsome. I mean, that’s great that’s how YOU would feel and you might think it’s a double standard but still, keep your thoughts to yourself.
When I am en femme I experience the world through a different set of heavily eyelinered eyes. I am hyper aware of my surroundings and who is in the room or in the store. I look for potential threats.
Interactions on social media are also different. I get a lot of guys hitting on me through comments and emails and messages. This is not humble bragging, mind you. I am not necessarily flattered by this. Most of these comments are… ah, very specific and almost all of them cross a line with me. There’s a difference between “you look really beautiful” and “I would love to be naked with you and caress your face as I gently kiss your lips”.
The smile thing? I totally get it when girls get annoyed when a man tells them to smile. I post (a LOT of) photos and I am not always smiling in them. It’s not a surprise when someone messages me about a specific picture and telling me that it would be a better photo if I smiled. I mean for one, don’t tell me what to do, lol.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately as I looked over the pictures from my most recent photo shoot. I don’t smile in every photo because I am trying to look… seductive? Or trying to convey a certain emotion?
I love this photo and I think it would hit different if I was smiling.
Sometimes the outfit vibes differently with a certain facial expression.
Sometimes I choose a resting facial expression to leave one’s interpretation of what I am thinking or feeling up to someone else. It’s not uncommon in lingerie photos.
I like all three of these photos a lot. And I think they would be very different if I was smiley in them.
But the last photo shoot taught me that yes, some photos look really good with a more neutral expression but almost every one of those pictures are completely entwined with what I am wearing. Lingerie, leather… outfits that convey domination or seduction tend to work without a smile but a pretty floral bodycon dress or a gown? Mmmm… not so much.
Look at these two photos.
Hate the photo on the left. HAAAAAATE it. And if I wasn’t using this photo to prove a point it would never see the light of day. My shoulders looked hunched for one, but the neutral expression just doesn’t work with this dress. The dress is cute, it’s flirty… I love wearing it. My facial expression, my body language should reflect that… similar to how my facial expression and body language reflects leather or lingerie.
I post a LOT of photos and the reality is that I upload just a fraction of what is taken and what I have saved on my hard drive. There are some really great pictures in terms of lighting, composition, outfits… but the picture is spoiled by my face. Er, facial expression.
I am not saying that all the men who tell me that I would look cuter if I smiled are correct. It’s not that simple. What I am realizing is that like a color of a dress or the style of an outfit some things, including facial expressions, work for some girls and not so much for others. Very, very, VERY few pictures (in a relative sense) where I am not smiling WORK compared to photos where I am expressing how happy I really am when I am wearing a cute dress and feeling like a supermodel for a few hours.