This probably isn't going to be about what you think.

Not about "passing" for female in public, anyway. That's something problematic, and yet a huge social privilege that not all trans women have, especially if they are unable to access or unable to have hormone therapy.

In a perfect world it wouldn't matter, and things are improving, but it's going to remain a factor for a long while.

These days, it can be stressful being in public. Residual concern over someone mis-gendering me persists, despite not being a likely thing any more. But that stress is a new one - it's solely based on concern over awkward social interactions at best, and personal safety at worst.

But what this got me thinking about is how different this anxiety is compared to what I had to deal with before: "passing" for male.

It seems a funny thing to say, but that's what it felt like. Far more uncomfortable than "passing" as female is now. Now I just be myself, and that behaviour mode and the way I like to dress is what people take for female. So it's not "passing" so much as just being myself for the first time ever. As I said - the stress is about social awkwardness if people get it wrong, NOT stress over performance and dress.

But "passing" for male before was a huge, complex and frustrating issue for me.

I wore a beard, acted gruff and picked up a ton of actually-shit behaviours in an attempt to over-emphasise being masculine.

I even artificially deepened my voice, but in such a way I hoped most people wouldn't notice it was an act. When people tell me now, "wow, your voice is so different", no... it's just me. BEFORE was more an exercise in vocal training than now.

It seems, given how much stock we place in physical appearances and bodies, that "passing" for male would have been easy for a bearded guy.

But psychologically, it sucked. I had no idea why for many years, but I lived in constant fear I'd be "found out". Exposed. I'd walk into a men's room and feel this gnawing discomfort that I was in the wrong place, and surely somebody would notice sooner or later.

Like I was wearing a man-suit, no matter how 'good' it looked it was still a facsimile.

So when I think of "passing" now, I increasingly realise that's what I was worried about before.

Passing for a guy, because I was told I had to.