As far as I am concerned, the term "passing" as a woman has gone the route of so many terms describing cross dressers or transgender women such as transvestite. However for this post, passing fits due to the times I was referring to in my past. Also, while I am on the subject of terminology, the "You make a beautiful or at the least convincing woman" always used to set me off too. After all I didn't set out to "make" anything. Especially a woman. I was just trying to express my true self.
As I was doing it, lessons were hard to learn and I have often written about the times I went home crying after being laughed at, or worse. Each lesson though taught me to survive and/or pass as my true feminine self. I could also refer to the process as aligning my interior with my exterior self. When I was able to balance the two was when I felt the most natural.
Perhaps you remember also the post I wrote about the little girl who taught me a huge lesson when she told her Mom "Look at the big mean woman." It turned out I had the hardest part down, she saw me as a woman but I lost the passing battle with the male scowl on my face. From then on, softening my facial muscles became a part of my makeup.
Later on I met and became friends with another transgender woman who ended up giving me passing lane advice. Once a week we used to meet in a friendly tavern in a downtown Dayton, Ohio restoration district. Every now and then, a local lesbian group would meet there for a mixer. As luck would have it, I had a couple of friends in the group. Thanks to them or any number of reasons I was always accepted at the mixer. Even to the point of being asked to help one on my friends "pick up" another woman. Yes I was a "wing person" for the evening.
Normally, my trans friend didn't participate much in the mixer and I had the opinion she was more into men than I was. I loved any attention from a lesbian which came my way. Which it did on occasion. I discovered a kissing spot upstairs in the tavern by the rest rooms and was able to take advantage of a stray "smooch" on occasion. After one of them, my friend said I passed out of sheer will power.
I knew at the time, I didn't have her natural feminine looks but I did know I had the personality to overcome whatever I lacked. Ironically, as I learned to establish myself with lesbians, they gave me the confidence to move forward. Years later though I learned the hard way my acceptance wasn't permanent when my partner Liz (who identifies as a cis-lesbian) and I went to a Valentines Dance here in Cincinnati. When Liz went to get us some refreshments, a person went out of her way to make my life miserable with gender slurs. It took awhile for me to hitch up my big girl panties and get over it. But I did.
Overall I have been fortunate to have been able to straddle the gender frontier for as long as I could. Entering the "passing lane" wasn't easy for me since I had very few feminine characteristics. I got it done though. I made a path for my feminine self.