There are many challenges when it comes to changing one's lived gender in society. Mostly for transsexuals this is about 'passing', or being able to live one's gender without being mistaken for the other (with, unfortunately, potentially disastrous consequences in some settings). There are obvious challenges to this, particularly when people transition after puberty, because many (typically) visible physical attributes are different for males and females and most of these develop during puberty. Afterwards a great number of these changes are either difficult or impossible to reverse while the desired ones are difficult or impossible to achieve. But the perception of gender isn't just physical, it is behavioural as well, and when it comes to communication such things as the voice, one's language (linguistic as well as body-language), mannerisms and so many other things play into this.

 

The issue of "physical passing" is of major importance to a great number of transsexuals. However there are a few things many tend to misunderstand. Most prominently I think that transsexuals, when they start living their gender, in the beginning with little experience, maybe with no medical treatment (facial surgery, HRT) whatsoever, tend to think that when they are being looked at questionably, maybe even stared at, are being recognized as transsexuals (or being 'read'). I am certain that this happens, sometimes, however "clearly visible transsexuals" are so rare that most people who do not live in an environment where transsexuality is common place (and that would be most people out there) will not make this connection. So why do they stare? Well, people in society are used to being presented gender-unambiguous images. We learn this early on, pink for girls, blue for boys. Later this gets reenforced through everything we see and much of what we do ourselves. The media, images in movies, magazines, advertising, does their share - we hardly ever see gender-ambiguous people on billboards, do we? So what really happens is that people look at us because we present gender-ambiguous - THIS IS UNUSUAL! The question on their minds is not "is this person transsexual?", the question really is "JUST WHAT IS THIS PERSON?".
It is obvious that in the beginning we will be gender-ambiguous. Physical changes take time, liberating natural behaviours also take time, and some things just have to be learned - just as every human being during adolescence does. Only we do it at the wrong age, so we may stand out for this. All these changes won't happen overnight, but if we are willing to work at it and take the time we will get better at it. Over time. Before this, while we're still being looked at, the very worst thing we can do is to 'panic' in some way, because socially this sends the message that we have "something to hide". And then we're really being looked at! So stay cool girls and guys, learn to ignore it! The more self-assertive one looks (one doesn't have to feel this, just present it), the more people will look, and then they will look away and go on with their business, having made-up their minds as to who we are, likely never having had a thought about seeing a transsexual at all!

 
These are two of the earliest photographs I generally publish, the time between these two pictures is approximately 4 years. During this time I started public living, pretty much from full-time male to full-time female overnight.
By the time the picture to the right got taken I had lived publicly for a little less than a year, I had hormonal treatment for less than 12 weeks (which means that as of then there were no physical changes), however I did have about 3/4 of my facial electrolysis done which in itself will change the shape of the face.

I don't feel that I ever had much of a problem being taken for who I am, but of course people did look at me critically at times.
 
To compare, this picture was taken another 3 years later and I honestly don't think that too many people mistake me these days.
I never had any facial surgery nor did I ever have any skin-treatment except for facial hair-removal by electrolysis. The difference in these pictures is hormonal treatment and hair-removal only, but in my opinion much more importantly this sequence shows what a difference it makes when a person feels well in her body, likes herself and finally is capable to express what she feels!
 
Another important fact which is often forgotten by transsexuals is that in humans, especially women, come in all sizes and shapes. In fact the visible variations in the female gender is a lot larger than it is in the male gender - this goes for general appearance as well as for specific body-features (including genitals). There are several reasons for this, one being that the genetic and visual variations in humans is greater than in just about any other species right to start with, but also because the female body changes considerably during pregnancy and childbirth.
As long as one falls anywhere within this large spectrum, one will be recognized and treated as a female!

 

There is however one thing that simply beats just about anything else: Believe in yourself! If you are transsexual, you are male or female because you feel that you are. LET OTHERS FEEL THIS ALSO!

Feel good about being yourself and let it show! Nothing whatsoever is as convincing as seeing a person who believes in him/herself and feels good about him/herself! Or very simply: If you believe in yourself then others will too. If you believe who you are then others will too!

If you follow this then you can deviate quite dramatically from "social standards" and people will still not question you - and as a "side effect" it will also make you feel good about yourself, which in turn will make it easier to express just this!

This is a self-reenforcing positive circle: Live yourself! Love doing it! Be proud that you do! AND SHOW IT BY LIVING SOME MORE!