A couple of years ago when I was really concerned with passing as male on a day to day basis I posted on an internet forum asking for some help. I put up a couple pictures of myself and asked for clothing/haircut/glasses/whatever advice.

The first piece of advice I received?

“Don’t smile!”

Wait, what?

Smiling is apparently too feminine for trans guys. Our faces are already rounder than your “average” male and smiling emphasizes that. So, don’t smile.

But… but no! No, I want to smile thankyouverymuch!

For a world that prides itself on being open and accepting sometimes it feels even more rigid and binary than the typical world. You MUST do this and this and not this and that but NEVER that.

  • Stand straight so your shoulders look wider
  • don’t tilt your head
  • don’t wear this cut of shirt
  • don’t cut your hair like this
  • don’t put your hands on your hips
  • don’t carry your books in front of you
  • don’t wear any jewelry
  • don’t wear things that emphasize your neck/arms/hips

And that’s just appearance stuff

  • don’t laugh
  • don’t sing
  • lower your voice on the phone
  • don’t speak as much in public
  • don’t get excited


Recently I’ve been thinking about my trans identity, and what it means for me to identify in the ways that I do. For me to pass and not pass and make the decisions I do.

I laugh a lot, in public, and I don’t try to make it a “masculine” laugh (whatever that means). I smile when I want to. I sing in church. I gave up on lowering my voice. I do quite a bit of public speaking. I get excited.

I. Even. GIGGLE.

I know, I know, forgive me. Forgive me for not living up to your gendered expectations of what you THINK I want to live up to. For you, I offer a poem.

For all of those
by life’s gendered

I offer you my body
in all of its wholeness

my too short hair
or too long hair
my skinny arms
without any hair

my day at the beach
in swim trunks
and a sports bra
and hairy pits

hey, you asked for it
you get it
all of me

my breasts, uneven
high and tattooed
pale and usually
by sunlight
or by you

my stomach
not toned

my face
in laughter
or tears

my legs
hairy but only
if you look closely

my hips
if you ask my gynecologist
I know I didn’t
she offered that
without provocation

My eyes
apparently gorgeous
I don’t see it

So here you go world
here you are life
I present you with me
all of me

Take it or leave it
laugh at it or with it
love it or hate it
mock it like the boys a few yards over
question it like the parents
who won’t let their kids come see
our sand castle
decide it’s just
not for you

It’s not for you
it’s for me
I decided I’ll enjoy it.



2 Comments to “DO. NOT. SMILE.”

  1. **APPLAUDS** Love the poem, too. 🙂

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