To Pass or Not 2 Pass - My 1st time wearing a Dress in Public

Hi y’all, I am 26 (he/they) and enby. I recently moved from the “deep south” to a pretty progressive town out West. Yesterday, I finally had the nerve to do something I’ve wanted to do for nearly a decade; I went furniture shopping downtown with my lovely wife, while wearing one of my dresses! Up until yesterday my visible queerness was mostly concealed for fear of being embarrassed that others would stare me down… We were laying on the couch talking about what we wanted to do with the rest of our afternoon, and she asked me if I would come with her to a second hand furniture/clothing shop. I said of course, then she asked if I would be ready to leave in 5 minutes. So without really thinking about it, I went to my wardrobe and quickly put a button-up on over my tank dress, leaving it unbuttoned, then slipped some shoes on. We were out the door and in her car before I knew what hit me. My heart was beating pretty fast once I realized that the decision had been made; I’m about to be in public for the first time wearing a dresss!

This is not something I could have done without years of support from my wife, she acted as if I was wearing my usual shorts n shirt. I looked down at my somewhat hairy legs and started thinking about what it means to “pass” as a male-bodied enby person. We pulled up to the shop and she got out all normal, I lagged behind for a second then said to myself, “there’s a first time for everything, righhht…” So I jumped out and caught up with her, the last thing I wanted was to feel left behind and panicky. There were some sales racks right outside the entrance that we flipped thru for a minute. I tried to keep my head down as to not notice if there were any people walking by on the street. We moved on and made our way towards the door; I could see quite a few people inside looking at stuff.

It felt like diving into cold water in slow-motion walking through that door, but it was okay - I had my best friend with me. Nothing could pierce us, she’s fucking unstoppable. This shop was much bigger than it looked from outside, which meant there were way more people inside than I could’ve expected. As we made our way passed all the clothes racks, I tried my best not to look at people in the eyes. I couldn’t bare knowing if they were staring at me or not, so I just pretended to look at all the cool stuff in the store. After all, that was what we were there to do. It’s like half of the experience was playing out in my head, because I couldn’t stop telling myself not to worry about being perceived as a “boy-in-a-dress” and that it’s all about being confident.

The furniture was surprisingly upstairs. I followed my wife closely as if we were physically tethered, and never quit making comments about the things we looked at. I love being anywhere with her, especially in public spaces because she’s always being funny and a little awkward when talking to strangers. The sales staff was friendly to both of us; I found myself more vocal with them than I thought I’d be. This place actually had some great near antique free-standing cabinets, all of it was well beyond our budget though. So we left empty handed, but my heart was overflowing with confidence and joy. I had finally done it; I left the house wearing whatever I felt like wearing, without worrying too much about passing or not.

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What are some of your thoughts on the subject of passing, as a non-binary and/or trans person?

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This was heartwarming and beautiful to read! Although I currently have no experience as a non-binary or genderqueer person, I can relate in regards to when I had explored my queerness in my teen years! I’m a cisgender female that goes by she/her and back then I remember being fascinated by dressing in men’s clothing. At some point I even tried displaying my more masculine side because it made me feel very confident, badass, and hot lol. I loved being able to work with both sides of me and figuring myself out along the way. I even took a couple photos trying to appear more boy-ish and still have them to this day. At some point I did decide that I felt much more close and in tune to my female side and haven’t explored masculinity since.

But your story is beautiful because I could read how powerful your experience was. I know you were a bit worried but I loved that by the end of it you loosened up a bit and felt like yourself.

I think that’s the most important thing, to feel confident and happy with how you identify and live in this world with self-expression. So congrats to wearing a dress and having a wonderful time with your wife! She sounds very supportive and kind as well :relaxed:

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Thanks for sharing your perspective and experience with me. I don’t get to talk to very many people about these things, so it’s such a relief when people like yourself take the time to respond online. Being a teenager is an exciting time for all of us, as we are more likely to try new things without being too analytical about every decision we make. I’m happy you felt confident enough to openly explore that side of yourself at a young age; it clearly helped shape who you are today. From the ages of 16-19 I was really protective of letting anybody know how I was feeling about my gender/sexuality. Which of course meant shame and guilt mixed with teenage hormones! It’s interesting how we take a path in life that later leads us in an entirely different direction than the one we started with. You’re right about self-expression, it’s everywhere and comes in so many colors! Thank you, I feel like this experience has solidified now that I’ve written about it and read/replied to your response.

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Soleil! This legit made my heart swell and tear up! I love that you had this experience and it was so positive. I just love this moment for you so much, from it being a spur of the moment decision to having such a supportive partner. Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. I think it’s so important for folks to be reminded how it can feel scary yet exhilarating when you decide to do something like this, and how rewarding and empowering it can feel once you take that plunge and push yourself to do something that isn’t fully in your comfort zone yet. Kudos to you!

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Hey, Soleil! I am also an enby (assigned female at birth, though), and I sometimes stress about passing too. I really related to your story! Whenever I am in public while presenting as masculine, I usually feel like people see me as a girl playing dress up in her father’s clothing. Reading your story really warmed my heart. It made me realize that I am not alone in this, and that it just takes practice to be comfortable presenting however makes you happiest!

For what it’s worth, I’m really proud of you! You were very brave.

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