I attended the Norwich Pride celebrations yesterday, which were fab. I did, however, wish I had worn a T-shirt saying “Not A Lesbian”. Being at a very “in-betweeny” stage, most people are very unlikely to identify me as a transguy, let alone simply male.

We all rely on context to tell us more about people we don’t know, and in the context of a Pride Parade, holding the hand of my partner, most people will have read me as a lesbian. Not that that’s a bad thing, really, as that was how I identified for a long time, but it did get me thinking about the signals I put out.

At work, dressed in a man’s shirt, smart trousers, dress shoes and, weather depending, a tie, I am much more likely to be read as “Not Female”, though male still might be pushing it. Out and about, I wear men’s clothes, but let’s face it, loads of women wear T-shirts and jeans, so how do I need to dress to be read as my true gender?

T-shirts are easy – fitted is a no-no, and I try to avoid perceived girly colours. That does seem ridiculous when so many men happily wear light, bright pastels, but I have to be wary of giving out confusing signals, where a 6 foot guy with a five o’clock shadow probably doesn’t need to worry. Like I said, it’s all about context and signals – if someone looks at another person, and is a little unsure of their gender, they will look at context (is that person having drinks with a crowd of women in a lesbian bar…) or signals (is that person wearing baby pink socks and a fitted T…). Please don’t jump down my throat here – I know that sock colour isn’t the key to someone’s gender or sexuality – but in my situation, it’s easier to try to give out what other people should read as masculine signals, to avoid being misread, especially in male spaces, such as bathrooms.

I’m going to have to wait until I am physically more obviously masculine until people simply start working out my gender from my face and body, rather than the colour or cut of my clothing. I bumped into an old acquaintance yesterday, who I haven’t seen for four years. Last time we met, he was transitioning, at about the stage I am now. Yesterday he was unrecognisable – handsome, hairy and undeniably a man. I bet he can get away with baby pink socks…

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