Transgenderal Experience of Paranoia

Related to the natural, and sometimes justified, sense of vulnerability that accompanies the feminine experience, is a uniquely transgenderal experience of paranoia. Paranoia may be defined as a pervasive and unreasoning fear of personal danger. Such paranoia is almost certain to attack you at some time in your life if you choose to leave your home in the persona of the opposite sex. The first several times I went out in a dress, I just knew everybody on the street, in the stores, driving down the roads, or looking out windows six blocks away were saying to themselves, “There goes (Name withheld) dressed up like a girl. What a nut!” (This version has been cleared up. I’m too much of a lady to use the words I was sure they were using.)

As more and more people obviously accepted me as a woman, I became more confident and the paranoia went into remission only to reappear when I hear a high pitched laugh as I walk into a restaurant or I notice a man looking at me with a puzzled look or two two men at the next table turn in unison to look at me then make an unheard comment. There are several dangers connected with giving in to paranoia. Obviously, one’s mental well-being is hampered by an all pervasive fear. Your enjoyment of life as a woman becomes dulled by fears you are not passing. You separate yourself from the companionship of others. You can even become a prisoner of your fears living your female life entirely behind closed doors. For those of us who plan to become a woman physically as well as mentally, we need to overcome this paranoia. After all, we will have no choice but leave our homes in feminine attire when we begin the real life test. So, overcoming this fear of discovery is an important step in the transition process. First, we look for alternative explanations for other people’s behaviors.

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People may be laughing because someone told a joke. If they are not looking at you or pointing in your direction, this is probably the case. The behavior may actually be a typical reaction toward a member of your adopted sex. I remember several years ago becoming paranoid because every time I was standing waiting for a traffic light to change or trying to cross a street on foot, men in the cars would look intently at me. I just knew they saw my beard through the makeup or something. Then one time, in masculine attire, I was waiting at a stop light with a woman and a man in a car looked at her the same way men looked at me. A little more observation confirmed my suspicions: Men look at women who are near their age or younger when stopped at traffic lights.

It’s almost a natural law. What I had perceived as being evidence of my ineptitude in passing as a woman was actually a symbol of my success. From then on I could enjoy the looks. Observe typical reactions in public to people when you are dressed in your male attire. You may find that what your apprehension told you was unique to you was simply part of the way people react to other people regardless of gender identity. Learn to recognize the probable signs of discovery and of acceptance. Usually, if you are read, the person will take a long, sustained look, possibly several. His or her countenance will register either puzzlement, amusement or, sadly, disgust.

If with friends, he or she will confidentially share the discovery with the friends and they will all glance surreptitious back. If you watch carefully, you’ll notice the looks and laughter is different from that of friendly joke telling. There is usually a nervousness connected with it. Clerks, waiters, waitresses and other business people will usually register moderate surprise then become overly businesslike in serving you. They usually won’t say “Come again.” They may be nervous or confused in waiting on you unsure of how to handle the situation. However, this may not be an accurate test. Many people simply act that way on the job. Of more importance to the development of your self confidence is to recognize the signs of acceptance. The most obvious is when a clerk, waiter, waitress, etc. calls you Miss or Ma’am.

If a man acts in deference to you: holds open a door; allows you to go first; smiles flirtatiously or patronizingly; then you probably have passed. I remember the first time a waiter held my chair for me, it was very reassuring. Blank looks on people’s faces or polite smiles and nods tells that the person hasn’t seen anything other than a woman passing by. If someone starts us a casual conversation about the weather or fashion or a popular topic, then you can assume you’ve passed. People aren’t casual when they are confused. If a clerk in a dress shop is anxious to show you the new styles and shows you to the dressing room, you’re in good shape. In other words, if people react to you like they would another woman then you have nothing to worry about.

Incidentally, paranoia will actually hurt your ability to pass in public. If you are nervous, you probably won’t act naturally and thus will draw attention to yourself. This will make it more likely someone will notice something different. In turn this will make you more nervous which will deteriorate your ability to pass. It becomes a cycle which feeds off itself. If you display confidence in yourself, that confidence will transfer itself to other people. In her book Canary, Canary Conn, a transsexual who went full-time before counseling, remembers seeing people looking at her then realizing the reason they were looking at her was because she was looking at them. When she stopped acting paranoid, people stopped looking at her which made her stop feeling paranoid. There is an important truth to be learned here: You have to act first and feel later. The more confident you act, the more effective you will become. The more effective you become, the more confident you will feel. Finally, be realistic. You are not the center of everybody’s universe. How many people do you watch intently enough to determine if they are a GG or a TS/TV? If you don’t, being an involved person, how likely is it that noninvolved people will? Unless you’re doing a really bad job, nobody will notice from across the street that you aren’t a woman.

What’s more, once accepted the odds are the person will not question his or her first impression. In fact, people tend to accept what they expect to see. A person comes in with long hair, wearing a dress, some eye shadow and lipstick they will probably assume you are a woman unless something is very much out of place. This is even more true when you are in a place where a woman should be found or is expected to be found such as a dress shop. True, we must be careful, especially those of us who do not yet have the benefit of hormones or completed electrolysis. However, we must not be unrealistically fearful. Yes, we take risks when we leave the house dressed as a woman, but we also take a risk when we turn the ignition on in our cars or cross a street no matter what our attire. If you allowed the fear of what MIGHT happen stop you from driving or crossing a street, you would be hopelessly housebound. The true art of prudent living is not to be found in living a risk-free life, but, rather, in balancing the risks against the benefits. Paranoia simply leads to the consistent failure of this balancing act.


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Transgenderal Experience of Paranoia. (2018, Jul 08). Retrieved from