Profile: Bob


You can call me… “Bob.” That’s what my mother called me way back at the start of my life, Bob or Robert. I have tried using the femme name, “Sissy.” That didn’t work very well. I always felt as that I was lying by implying that I was a female when I am, in fact, a male.

I identify as… a man who often wears elements of women’s fashion including, upon occasion, certain items taboo to men, namely, skirt, dress, enhancing bra, and makekup. The popular term for that behavior is “cross-dressing.” I’m not real happy with that term, but it seems as good as any that’s readily available.

As far as third-person pronouns go, … anything works. “Him,” “he,” and “his” work fine. “Her,” “she,” and “hers” I like even better as long as the speaker understands that I am male.

I’m attracted to… I like to think that attraction has everything to do with the person and the situation, but it’s almost always a woman that I am attracted to. When cross-dressed, some men also seem romantically desirable to me.

When people talk about me, I want them to… to say what is on their minds with candor. I’m not real happy that people sometimes gossip about me and the way that I dress. I hear reports about who said what about me. Actually, it doesn’t amount to much. One person asked my dance parter if I had bumped my head. The point is that they get to express their ideas. Ideally, I would hear these ideas first hand so that I could show that I have heard and understood what they have to say.

I want people to understand… [content removed for objectionable material. sorry about that, everbody. -SD]

» Define yourself. «

Posted by on December 14th, 2010 at 04:00 pm

Category: profiles 33 comments »

33 Responses to “Profile: Bob”

  1. Si

    I sure hope I’m not the only person who has a problem with the ‘I want people to understand’ section and it implying that an MtF is just a cross-dressing man who shouldn’t “pretend” to be a woman.


  2. Adrien

    Si: you aren’t the only one, no.


  3. Stephanie

    I had an issue with it, too.


  4. Alex

    Presenting the way you want to present is a lie? How are you on this site??


  5. Peter

    I agree, Si, Adrien and Stephanie. Even though I honor Bob’s experience of herself as male, I found the “I want people to understand” section to be wrong-headed and condescending. And even though I would not censor Bob’s views in general, I do not think that those views belong on this particular site.


  6. Jessica

    I want people to understand that if I did it, it would be a deliberate deception, a lie, and therefore I should not do it. Other people? Some people cross-dress as a pure expression of their identity and it is not meant as a lie. I can’t judge another person’s intent. And anyway it’s not up to me, nor do I want to take responsibility for someone else’s choices.

    But I can still think intentionally deceiving people is a bad thing, a dangerous thing sometimes and that people shouldn’t do it.

    Bob’s OK in my book. He’ll not be everybody’s cup of tea and that’s fine with him and me.


  7. jean c.

    I’m on the same page with the first couple of commenters, I think Bob is wrong in calling out MtF folks as deceiving people if they are “passing”, or, what might be a better way to say it, “presenting as female”. If you are presenting as what you identify as, that is not faking or pretending, no way.

    I’m not sure if I agree that the statement should be taken down from the site — but I think a chorus of comments saying, “passing is not deceiving” could be an antidote to her somewhat judgemental statement, and could make people who might be hurt by her negativity feel like they are not wrong, are not lying, and are not alone.


  8. Dazza

    Not that it happened to Bob, but I myself had feelings of guilt, and accusations of being a “pretender” leveled at me.

    It’s a struggle not to believe that some days. I guess I feel that, in the end, you are what you are, and presenting how you feel is not lying, it’s just more complicated, but it’s not wrong.

    And in the case of Bob’s being a cross dresser, they haven’t the right to judge how transgender people choose to pass; those are two very different situations.

    This is in no way meant to disregard his opinion, but transgender people (including myself, ftm) have enough inner and outer turmoil without members of their own community calling them frauds. If anything we deserve to be treated as male or female more than anyone; we had to work hard for it.


  9. Gil

    I want Bob to understand: There is a fundamental difference between cross-dressing and being MtF or FtM. To put simply (and thereby gloss over many finer details and shades of gray): Cross-dressing- the emphasis is on the clothes and how they make you feel. FtM or MtF-clothes are secondary, and the emphasis is on the body/mind.

    There is no deception on the part of the MtF or FtM- they are presenting as their true gender, whether anyone else outside of that individual’s experience decides to acknowledge it or not. The responsibility for the perception of deception rests solely with the other person, not with the MtF or FtM individual. And my advice for the perceiver in this case is to check your premises.

    As a FtM I can attest that the only time I felt I was cross-dressing was when I was dressing in “feminine” attire in accordance with the conventions of my female birth-assigned sex. It is inaccurate and offensive to suggest that I cross-dress daily simply because my clothes do not match what is traditionally expected to be underneath them. I do not identify as female, therefore as an FtM I cannot logically be cross-dressing by wearing “masculine” clothing. Same goes for MtFs: someone who is MtF would fall into the category of cross-dressing only if she were wearing masculine clothing with the intent of being read as male.


    Jessica replied:

    I agree 110% Cross-dressing is not MtF or FtM. People who are genderqueer and dress as they feel (as I do) are not trying to fool anybody. I never dress to appear as a man, nor do I dress to appear as a woman. I dress to appear as me and if you can’t tell what gender I am today, well, sorry, but that’s your problem.

    But I can understand Bob feeling the way he feels, for himself. If he extends that feeling to others, then he is often wrong.

    Like I said earlier, it comes down to intent, which is pretty difficult and sometimes virtually impossible to discern. Just accept people, don’t judge, lest ye be judged. Pretty good notion, even if it does come from the Bible.


  10. baccha

    Every day, a fresh example of why I love Genderfork.

    At a few other trans/genderqueer forums I’ve frequented, this post would be a cue for someone to start spewing bile Exorcist-style. Instead, insistent but civil disagreement abounds.

    My thoughts are basically in line with the first few commenters – if you’re presenting in line with your self-conception, you shouldn’t feel morally obligated to out your genitals immediately. Dangerous? Oftentimes, but not passing can be equally dangerous in many situations. Does that mean you should yield to transphobia altogether and try to pass as cis? I think it’s better to acknowledge the risks, take pains to protect yourself, but stick as close to your self-conception as is reasonable.


    XylophoneGender replied:



  11. Anonymous

    Yikes, stripes. The “problem” is not passing, the problem is Transphobia. I think it’s a really dangerous thing when we start accepting transphobic violence as an expected result of someone having been “duped.” #1-5 and #7-10… all good points that I don’t need to repeat.


    XylophoneGender replied:



  12. Lane

    Its funny, recently I’ve been thinking that passing isn’t a great word to describe transgendered people presenting as their chosen identity. Passing so often means denying some or all of your identity so as to gain access to a safer, more privileged status, for example biracial people passing for white in the fifties. It feels like I was passing when I accepted the label “female” and now I’m letting go of that by presenting as male. So in that regards Bob is right, passing isn’t such a good goal, although I see how people often feel the need to. As to equating cross-dressing with MtFs… see what everybody else says.


    Dazza replied:

    I’ve always thought of it more as “Activating”

    like my real gender’s been asleep for a long time, and now it’s waking up.


    Lane replied:

    I like it!


    Gil replied:

    Agreed. S.Bear Bergman has a really wonderful essay on “passing” in The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You. Challenges the use of the word and cuts right to the heart of the issue.


    Jamie replied:

    “Passing” is just a more underhanded way of saying “looking cisgender”. Why should that be the ideal? And why should anyone gain social benefit from looking that way?

    I understand that, on a personal level, looking as the gender/sex you identify as can be immensely important to self-esteem and conception of self. But in a social context, it ends up forming a hierarchy of power and “normalcy”.

    I want to look the way I would have if I hadn’t been poisoned by testosterone. This isn’t about the acceptance of others, it’s about feeling right in my body—until I can get closer to that state I feel disconnected. However, I don’t want to lend credence to a prejudiced power structure. This is where the personal and the social intersect to create a total mess.

    The concept of “passing” masks these deeper truths, creating unnecessary wars and throwing people into ill-fitting camps. Many who want to “pass” really want to feel congruent in their own bodies, and don’t have a better word to describe it. Others who want to “pass” are disadvantaged and in pain and want a leg-up, not knowing any other way to achieve it. Some don’t care for “passing” because their sense of self doesn’t require it. Others are politically motivated to be against it. All are suffering in some way. There is no point in claiming the superiority of one perspective over the other. It’s in-fighting about a problem created by those outside the community.


    Jessica replied:

    “Passing” is a concept of oppression. In the US up through the 1980’s there was a billion dollar industry that assisted black people “passing” as white. Hair straightening, skin lightening, feature “softening” and other “beauty aids.” It was a response to exploitation and a recognition of severe life-harming prejudice.

    I wrote earlier about my own feelings about me and “passing” but I was being very simplistic. Hat’s off to Jamie for broadening the discussion away from “right” or “wrong” and bringing up the fact of the human tragedy in our community, the pain and suffering resulting from prejudice and oppression that facilitates the response of passing.

    In a world of tolerance and justice, acceptance and honest diversity, no one would feel the need to pass.


    Jamie replied:

    Very true. Keep in mind I was also pointing out that people often confuse the need for body congruence with “passing”, when the two are not the same. Changing your body to match an internal sense of self is different than trying to get others to read you as cisgender. One is about the body, the other is about society. The former may sometimes lead to “passing”, but that is not the end goal.

    J replied:

    “Many who want to “pass” really want to feel congruent in their own bodies, and don’t have a better word to describe it” very true.


  13. Sarah Dopp

    Woah, I’m so sorry everybody. The last section of that profile was not okay for this community space, and I just removed it.

    We’re going through some internal hiccups as we shift our editing staff around a bit, and this slipped through the cracks in the process. Thank you so much for keeping your responses fair and respectful.



    Elijah replied:

    Wait but – I think it fostered really good discussion and maybe adding a disclaimer would be good but don’t delete! D:


    Sarah Dopp replied:

    Thanks for the pushback. :) Since the content feels offensive, i’m not really comfortable leaving it up on the main post for people to bump into as they’re browsing through the site. But for the sake of preserving context for the discussion above, I’ll repost it here:

    I want people to understand… that the big problem with cross-dressing is PASSING. It’s a lie when a man fools other people into thinking that he is a woman. That’s especially true when the cross-dresser enters into an interaction with another person under this pretense. I think we all know that really bad stuff can happen when a cross-dresser has a sexual encounter with a man he has duped. So please listen up all you MtFs. Passing is a bad idea.


  14. lia

    Of course people here kept replies short, and people did mention “shades of gray” – but I would like to disagree with the idea that crossdressing and MtF/FtM are two completely different things.

    They are two different reactions to the same problem : that gender isn’t binary (or that gender doesn’t exist). Different people are more or less aware of their reaction to this, and it comes out in different ways. When it comes out, people deal with in different ways, and come to term with it in different ways.

    This creates all sort of different reactions, but they are not different things. All we have is different people.

    I disagree with the initial poster (at least as much as I understand – the actual comment had been removed by the time I got here), but splitting out categories like this only helps to create hierarchies amongst transgendered people.


    Jessica replied:

    Imagine a Male/Female binary where adult males and adult females were identical, except that
    1) males had blue hair and females had white hair
    2) males were always taller than 5’5″ and females were always shorter than 5’5

    I am assuming they dress/act alike, too.

    Now there can be two reactions to this:
    a) I can bleach or dye my hair so that it looks blue or white (depending) and I can crouch down or wear lifts in my shoes (assuming this makes you over or under the magic 5’5″) OR
    b) I can follow a medical program to change my body chemistry so I naturally grow blue or white hair and I can have surgery to lengthen or shorten my leg bones to be under or over 5’5″.

    At least casual or occasional cross-dressers would, I think, be in group a, while most MtF or FtM would be in group b. People being confusing critters, there’s going to be some people who belong in both a and b at times.

    But it’s not something about commitment to an idea, it is about the difference between wanting to appear to be something else, at least sometimes, and wanting to BE something else – to change the essence of what you are to not only be accepted as X instead of Y, but to correct the mistake that led you to being misconstrued as X instead of Y.

    I do agree that splitting hairs and over defining people into lots of separate groups and hierarchies within groups of groups is counterproductive.

    1. PEOPLE deserve respect
    2. PEOPLE have the right to self-identify,
    3. PEOPLE should not need to justify their choices and jump through hoops in order to be entitled to 1 & 2


    lia replied:

    ” it is about the difference between wanting to appear to be something else, at least sometimes, and wanting to BE something else ”

    Yes, there are people who want to appear to be something else, and there are people who want to be something else. I understand and do not question these experiences. However, this is far from covering all the possibilities, as is implied by making such a clear cut difference between the two.

    For instance, there are people like me who don’t WANT anything. I started wearing make-up, then dresses, then breastforms (and am now considering HRT) not because I wanted to, but because, through my experiences, these are things I have come across that have felt good/natural/empowering. And this is not only about clothing – I have also been changing my attitudes and the way I relate to people to a more “feminine” way and have discovered a fuller life. Not because I want to, but because that’s where my experiences have led me to, step by step. I am not a man, I don’t identify as such ; I don’t identify as a woman at the moment either. But every step I have made has made me more of a woman.

    From the definitions I have read in this thread, I would be more of a crossdresser, as I don’t WANT to be a woman. But the way I see it, I am BECOMING a woman. In that sense, I would be more likely to identify as MtF, though nowadays I just identify as the more generic transgender.

    These are my experiences, and I don’t fit in this either/or/and paradigm – I am just outside of it – , and I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who don’t fit either for different reasons than mine.

    Love :)


    Jessica replied:

    “People being confusing critters, there’s going to be some people who belong in both a and b at times.” You and “a lot of people out there who don’t fit either for different reasons than min” are some of those folks. Pm reflection, I guess there’s no reason why you couldn’t be neither a or b at times, either.

    That’s the trouble with this kind of thing, when you look deep enough, everything and nothing is true.

    jean c. replied:

    whoa, Lia, I love the way you wrote about this. not “wanting” to become something… but taking the action that feels right… then the next action… etc… and finding yourself in a process of “becoming”. that wasn’t a “desired” thing, but just stepping the way that your experiences were leading you. beautiful.

    Jamie replied:

    Many trans people have genders that fall within the binary and would be offended at being treated as something other than that. Some don’t identify with a gender but with a sex, feeling that their brain is mapped to the other sex. Others identify with their assigned gender and sex, but prefer “non-standard” clothing. Others still don’t strongly identity with a gender or a sex. The list goes on.

    Recognizing our differences is as important as respecting our equal worth as humans. Painting the trans community with broad strokes only serves to erase individual experience, and can be just as oppressive as hierarchies of power.

    Rule of thumb: When it comes to gender, speak for yourself. No one has the power to define others.


    Sarah Dopp replied:

    “When it comes to gender, speak for yourself. No one has the power to define others.”



    Jessica replied:

    Therefore, a sensible person says:
    If I keep from meddling with people, they take care of themselves.
    If I keep from commanding people, they behave themselves.
    If I keep from preaching at people, they improve themselves.
    If I keep from imposing on people, they become themselves.
    Lao Tzu

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