Monday, 4 January 2010

Large blooming flower indeed

It's been nearly ten years since I came out to my then-girlfriend, now she's my wife so I must be doing something right. We've taken it slowly and had a lot of fun, but I(girl) am still out of sight. Why is this?  Surely in this time and place that should be achievable!

(later edit for clarity's sake, when I originally came out to my girlfriend it was as the cross dresser I thought I was, the realisation that I was transgendered came later. This seems to be a well worn path.)

Here, I come to a shuddering halt. I am a almost a giant. I wouldn't have a hope in hell of passing.

Let me explain. I am 6 foot 8 inches tall. As a girl I wear a UK size 18 dress, but my feet are UK size 15. It's an over-used cliché about transgendered people that they are born in the wrong body, well in my case in a very cruel joke from the creator that's more literally true than for others. A long dress is mid-calf on me, a knee length dress is mid-thigh and a short dress is positively indecent. As it happens I'm in proportion. I may wear a size 18 but my height means I look a lot more slender than most size 18 women and years of walking and cycling mean that my very long legs have a shape most women would kill for. If I could easily buy a set of size 15 heels and I topped off my ensemble with a suitably bouffant wig, I'd be comfortably over 7 feet tall. Cool in a dominatrix-trashy-drag-queen kind of way, but hardly unobtrusive.

If you are of average height, you are fortunate in that you are merely a face in a crowd. You are unlikely to have experienced being significantly different from the rest of that crowd so you will never have been really noticed by that crowd. Try dyeing your hair pink for a week, and see what a difference it makes. The average man in the UK is about five feet 9 inches tall while the average woman is about five feet four inches. I'm a foot taller than most men and sixteen inches taller than most women. As a man in the street, I've had people openly staring at me, I've been the butt of more unfunny height jokes than I'd care to mention and from time to time I attract unwarranted open hostility from people who feel threatened by me. Being tall is not without its advantages, for example violent behaviour rarely comes my way, but a tall transgendered woman of my height would be nothing but a freak in the eyes of the general public and would not be able to pass unseen. It takes a lot of courage for any transgender girl who can pass in a crowd to take her first steps in the open and I admire those who do, I simply do not have what it takes to go out as a girl with very little chance of passing unseen.

I've had a lot of time to think on this subject, and I've concluded that there can be some surprising upsides to this. It is not without regret that I recognise being unable to pass as a woman means I can never consider transitioning, however having that decision made for me by my physical size means that I will never have to face making it myself. 


  1. Hi Jenny, I thought I was tall at 6' 2" and size 10 to 11 feet and I live in a city where the population was well below average height when I first arrive decades ago.

    You are not alone! There is a site you may find interesting, a bit clunky but full of a wide range of transness and open passing of experience and there is someone who has surfaced occasionally who I think was living in Germany but with good English who could look you in the eye.

    Glad you have found something interesting in my blog, I try to show a life and not just a small part of it, we have to live in the real world.

    You do not have a followers widget on your blog yet, that and commenting on others blogs will warm things up for you.

    Caroline xx

  2. Thanks for the comment, your piece ( ) was rather close to home for me.

    I'm still getting used to Blogger's interface so it's taken me a while to get the widgets right. There: how about that?

    I'll check out that link in due course, resist the temptation to run before walking :)

  3. Really good point, Jenny. I have a friend who reads my blog and is also 6' 8". She has the same thoughts. I have also had this thought for years. At 6' 1" I had thought there was just no way I could pass and that was my excuse. It worked for a long time until a good friend, with nearly the same body size and type as mine, transitioned and has turned into a gorgeous woman. I can't use that excuse any more. Nevertheless, I work very hard to fight the neverending thoughts.

    Thanks for linking to this post on your front page. I clearly defines the theme of your blog.

    Calie xxx

  4. Height is only a part of it, my easiest excuse. Transitioning also needs a hell of a lot of courage, the more so the more difficult to pass you are. There's no shame in not having that courage, I certainly don't have it.

    I hope to meet your 6'" friend online sometime.

  5. Damn typos! That's 6'8", not six inches!

  6. I'm 6'6". I probably lost ten years of transition-time because I really didn't believe I could pass. And it wasn't just the was the hair on every inch of my body and my size 15 feet and so much more, but if I had to pick, I'd say my height was definitely my main insecurity.

    But eventually I decided, perhaps out of desperation, that passing wasn't the be-all and end-all of transition...if it was, it excluded far too many people who really needed it. Like myself. And really, that was liberating for me...the real turning point. Having reconciled issues with my appearance, I was able to focus on other things - my inner self, so to speak - and as we all know, that's more a measure of who you are than any external beauty you may possess.

    And so it was that I transitioned, still believing I would never pass, but not needing that security any longer. And you know what? It turns out I do pass. Not all the time, certainly not at first, but more and more all the time. And my height, so often an insecurity for me (and it still is to some degree), became a boon in some ways...a natural conversation starter, especially among other tall women who, like us, feel isolated and just want to feel like they aren't alone out there.

    I don't say any of this to suggest that you should transition. But if you're height is your issue, it shouldn't be. I know you said you wanted to look back on some of my older entries...I recommend these ones:

    They're not all sweet and pretty, but most are. And the good ones are only a fraction of the really good stuff that has happened to me...I just can't blog about it all because after a point, I feel like it's bragging. ;)

  7. Dang, I just noticed I juxtaposed "you're" for "your"! I hate that...really, I do know the difference between "your" and "you're", "then" and "than", and "to and "too" and "two". :p

  8. Don't worry, I grew up in a university town so I've been annoyed by enough grammar pedants not to be one myself.

    Your previous comment. That's quite heavy for me to digest. A lot to think about there, if you don't mind. I've taken my evening picking up my wife from the gym, going for noodles and coming back home to consider it. Do you mind if I take a while and reply in a blog post? Watch this space.

  9. It's your blog, go for it!

    Also, if you ever just feel the need to talk and commiserate with someone who knows what you're going through, my YIM id readily available at my blogger profile. Trust me...I will not push you in one direction or the other, but know I would have loved to have had someone who understood these height issue when I was sorting through my own personal baggage just a few short years ago.

  10. I'm sorry I couldn't have been there for you love.

  11. hi Jenny
    Thank you for writing so openly and honestly, and if it sounds like a clique, it was is a privalidge to read about your day to life and worries.

    I suppose I am lucky in that I can merge into the crowd, although I do stand out now with my alternative look and tattoos!

    What I could say as a slight angle on this is the jealousy and comments I have had from some in the trans and non trans community because of my figure etc.
    We cant seem to please everyone us transwomen!

    But I hope one day the world will be able to treat all transwomen with some dignity, whatever thier height or shoe size.
    keep fighting in there girl


  12. Thank you Lucy,

    It's funny, in the near six months since I wrote this it seems as though at every turn another brick has been removed from this particular wall. I've made a reasonable presentation and I've been out in the real world. Haven't fooled anyone yet but let's face it, I haven't really had to. So I've begun to realise that height alone isn't the barrier I once thought it was and while I may not be the sylph-like beauty I might wish I was I can do better than the stereotye. It's merely a steeper slope than that I'd have if I were 5'4".

    But that said I see how people react to my cousin, a genetic girl who's about 2 inches shorter than me. She never has to worry about people questioning her gender but like me as a bloke she gets unwarranted hostility just for the size she is. People are idiots.