Passing: Dressing the FtM Body

Updated on January 2, 2017

More often than not, I see young trans* people desperately searching how to pass as the gender they really are. From what I've seen, most of the transgender resources are meant for trans women. On Tumblr, when you search for clothing exchanges, most of the posts you find are males looking to swap their feminine clothing for more masculine clothes.

As an androgynous transmasculine genderqueer, I decided to share my knowledge on how to pass. The things that I know are thanks mostly to vast amounts of research that are now being pulled together into one place.

The basics:

In order to look the part, you have to understand the differences between male and female bodies. Look closely at this picture. These are the body tyles of male and female physical bodies.

If you look closely, you'll notice two things:

1. Male bodies are more angular and box-like whereas female bodies are curvier.

2. Males typically have broad shoulders and little to no difference between their hip-to-waist ratio, while females usually carry their weight in their hips rather than their shoulders. Their bodies are curvier, and their hip-to-waist ratio is significantly larger than the males.

That's what we need to get around.

The male silhouette is the most important part. People make unconscious connections as to the sex of a person. As seen above, if someone were to see a curvy body with more weight in the hips, they will automatically assume female.

Think of it this way. A woman's body looks similar to a triangle. Wider at the bottom, smaller at the top. Men's body looks like an inverted triangle. Wider at the top, smaller at the bottom. If you are one of the few trans men with an already inverted triangle body type, good for you. You're one step closer to passing.

Note: DO NOT wear shoulder pads to make your shoulders broader. For one thing, only women's clothing uses them, and they don't look natural! People will be able to tell if you are using them.

Body language: Girls tend to talk with their hands more than men. You don't have to stop completely, but limit how much you do it. If you can't help it, try shoving your hands in your pockets with your thumbs sticking out. Keep your shoulders squared.

Avoid waving your hips when you walk. Don't cross your feet when you walk. Men tend to just pick their foot up and set it down in front of where it was rather than one foot in front of the other. From doing this myself, I've noticed that men have to sort of waddle when they walk because they keep their hips steady rather than moving them. I believe this is what's known as "Swagger."

When you sit, don't cross your legs. If you do, angle your leg more. men tend to keep their legs open when they sit. Something I've noticed cis men doing is crossing their arms on the table. Remember to keep your back straight and your shoulders squared.

Now on to the part everyone wants; clothes.

DO NOT buy clothing too big for you. I know it's tempting, but all it does is make you look tiny. It's a lot like when someone tries to look smaller by wearing one size too small of everything.

Shirts: If you are a part of the smaller body types, T-shirts are your enemy. Female arms are typically a lot smaller than male's. The arm holes are open so they really make your arms look tiny and risk getting misgendered or make you look like a 14-year-old boy. So if you're 14, no worries.

Exercise shirts are the way to go. They hug your arms and give them the illusion of looking bigger and more toned.

As you've probably discovered, dress shirts are your best friend. They hide your waist, the size of your arms, and when you roll the sleeves up, they do the same thing as exercise shirts; they make your arms look bigger. You want to make sure it fits you right, though. Most men's clothes aren't meant to accommodate the wider hips of a girl. You want it to fit your arms, chest, and hips (without scrunching up), but hide your waist. Most women's dress shirts are made to slightly come in around the waist. Tucking in your shirt can help. If you get one of those dress shirts with the extra bit of fabric on the shoulders, those are good. They make your shoulders look bigger and broader.

Waistcoats are a nice touch too.

Try to avoid wearing plaid. Plaid is sometimes associated with lesbian or butch. There's nothing wrong with either of those things, but as a trans person, you probably don't want to look like that. (That being said, I wear plaid anyway. It's all about taste).

Avoid patterns. The human eye is really good at picking up displacement. so if you don't have a binder, or have a bigger chest, it's going to show. Unpredictable patterns are good, because the eye can't tell if it's supposed to be like that or not.

Pants: Remember the don't wear clothes too big for you rule? This doesn't apply for the most part. While you don't want fitted jeans, you also don't want super baggy jeans that flop around when you walk. A good rule of thumb is if you were to pinch the fabric behind your thigh, you should get about an inch of loose fabric.

Don't try to wear your pants lower. Nobody is going to be checking if you are packing. The seam on the jeans or pants is really important. Especially if you are shorter. The longer your seam is, the taller you look. It's similar to the rule with skirts. If it reaches half way down your calf, it's gonna make you look short and stocky.

Hair: Men's hairlines go back farther than women's. This can easily be hidden with bangs. Don't get a fohawk. Unless you can pull it off like Rain Dove, it's going to make you look either butch or lesbian. Again, nothing wrong with those. But trans guys don't want to look like lesbians. But again, if that's the cut you want, go for it.

A medium haircut has more room to play.

If you want sideburns, don't just use stray hairs and arrange them there, That is something stereotypically found in pixy cuts. Instead, cut it so that it is straight and square at the ends.

Accessories: I've personally noted that wearing thick bracelets or watches make my wrists look bigger. But they should be fitted. Again, bigger stuff makes you look smaller.

That's all I have for you today. Best of Luck.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers


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        9 months ago

        Men in general past teenage years wear pretty conservative haircuts.

        Males in general to "blend in" more. Less or no jewelry, minimal accessories, less fuss overall.

        For example, men's suits have been more or less the same for over 100 years, while womens fashion radically changes each decade or even faster.

        If you are going for a male look, you want to avoid anything that is too trendy or super eyecatching.

        You want a conventional haircut that fits your face, but nothing super eyecatching like a mohawk/fohawk, or anything like that.

        Those are all more fem styles.

      • profile image


        11 months ago

        if i got an actual mohawk, would that have the same butch lesbian effect as a faux-hawk would? or does it depend on face shape?

      • profile image


        11 months ago

        RIP my jeans

      • profile image


        22 months ago

        "Avoid whereing t-shirts. They make you look like a 14 year old boy"

        Well, I am 14 so I don't got no problems!


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