Disapproving Looks

Top – Patty Boutik
Leggings – GuessSimilar
Boots – Nine WestSimilar
Sweater – 69th & MadisonSimilar
Belt – ?? – Similar

The other day while wearing this outfit I experienced something very new.  So new that I don’t know if I have ever experienced it.  On occasion people will look me in the face and give me an obviously disapproving look.  It is quite clear with some people that they do not approve of transgender people and it is obvious that is what they are reacting to.  On the Internet some people tell me that if they saw me in public they would never know that I was not born a woman.  While I know that there is a wide range of possibilities for how humans look, I also know that I have figured out how to take a halfway decent picture, and that in real life, if you interact with me long enough, you will eventually know without a doubt that I was born as a male.  Thus when people look me in the face and give a disappointing look, it is obvious to me why.

The other day though, I got a very new disapproving look.  This look was difficult for me to interpret properly in the moment and it took me some time to correctly identify it.  It was still a disapproving look, but it did not come from me being transgender.  It came from me showing some decolletage.  But I am getting ahead of myself as usual; let me rewind for a moment.  My wife and I had gone away for the weekend to do some wine tasting and on the morning I wore this outfit we were checking out of the hotel.  We walked together to the elevator and there were a couple of older women already waiting.  We could hear them speaking in a language that neither of us could identify.  They were dressed very conservatively, wearing very muted colors.  Upon walking up to them, they both turned to the sound of my wife and I approaching.

Most of the time people will look me in the face and go from there.  But these two women were different.  Maybe it was their age.  Maybe it was the norm in the culture they were from.  I really don’t know, but when they turned to look at my wife and I, they started by looking at our feet.  They both looked at my boots, slowly working their way up my body until they got up to my chest.  Upon seeing how much I was showing, they both turned away and I got the clear impression from them that they did not approve.  It was really weird and something I had never experienced before, but in hindsight I clearly felt as though they were shaming me for the revealing clothes I was wearing.

How awful. I mean, I suppose there are those that might tell me to not be bothered and in fact that I should be flattered.  Flattered because someone took me to be a born woman.  They didn’t dismiss me because I am transgender and so, I must have passed.  I achieved the holy grail for transgender people.  But, no, that is really not important for me.  What is important?  People treating people with respect and dignity as fellow human beings.  I really do not think people should be shamed for being transgender, or from showing a little bit of skin.

Love you!  Love yourselves!  Love your fellow humans!  Boo, hiss on body shaming!!

Oh and yeah, if you are curious on how someone who was born male and has had no hormone treatments can achieve this look, that my friend said looked better than $9,000 was able to buy her, then check out my page on how I create it.
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Hi, I’m Nadine Spirit and I have been a lifelong gender non-conformer. I have always understood that I am a bit different than most but it was not until sometime in my thirties that I came to understand that I am transgender. While I spend most of my time presenting as a male I am always presenting in a gender non-conforming manner.

I started my blog, Unordinary Style, with the idea of being able to show a stylish side to those who identify as transgender. Since that time my blog has evolved into showing my personal style, discussing a wide variety of transgender topics, as well as posts about my personal life. My personal style continues to evolve as I attempt to continually push myself to pick stuff off of the racks, take it into the dressing room, and try on as much as I can. I am a firm believer in ignoring tag sizes, never paying retail prices, and due to a terrific allergy – that nickel should never be in any jewelry!

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10 Responses to “Disapproving Looks”

  1. Maria

    Nadine, I may take flack for my comment, but I am hopeful that the tolerance expected is equal to the tolerance afforded.

    Your description of the two women reads to me as having an underlayer of bias about them that perhaps affected what you think they thought of you. But let’s assume that you correctly perceived disapproval. Why would that offend you? I believe we all must ACT decently, but are we advocating for thought control? Do they not have the same right to feel what they feel, whatever it is, as much as you do? Must we all conform to a standard (set by whom?) about which feelings are OK and which are not? What would have been an “appropriate” reaction? Smiles? A clear reaffirmation of your conviction that we should all show as much skin as we want?

    Had these women disrespected you, bullied you, insulted you, I would be in your corner fighting the good fight. But this is just a NO for me. I am a fat 56 year old who gets many disapproving glances over my spiky red hair and disgracefully undignified fashion sense. So what?

    Because (and this is probably the ultimate will-get-flack statement): People have a right to hate and disapprove. And we do. You, me, everyone. Yes, a kinder, gentler world is possible if we do not let these feelings guide us and of course, discrimination and violence are off the table, always. But a glance, a thought, a sigh, an eyeroll, a facial expression of disgust, disapproval or hate? In my book, not nice, not polite, not gentle or kind, but within our rights. I for one, can -and do- take it without it making even a tiny dent in my day. Perhpas rather than expecting love and approval and reaffirmation, a more realistic goal for all of us would be to strengthen our core so when someone frowns at our boobs, our our violently violet lipstick, we will fail to notice.

    • Nadine Spirit

      Thanks for your thoughts. Seriously. I so appreciate people who are willing to speak their mind. And you are totally right that these women had every right to think whatever they wanted to think. That is completely within their own free will to do.

      It’s interesting that you would note smiles as something that I might think to be a more appropriate reaction. I am in the midst of writing a post about smiling and it’s vast benefits for all of us as human beings. Do I think that everyone is going to smile, all the time, about everything? No, clearly that is nonsense. But a smile is a powerful thing between us human beings and it is a gift we give all to infrequently. And thus I try to smile pretty much all the time, and to pretty much everybody.

      I have never expected love and affirmation from anyone in the general public, actually quite the opposite. What I have seen instead is a kinder, more gentle side of humanity that I never pictured. It is not an expectation of anything about others, it is instead a hope. A hope that people can treat others with love and affirmation, not for us, but for themselves.

      I love comments that make me think, and yours has certainly done that, so again, thank you.

      • janejetson

        Interesting points. From another point of view. We have a friend with a teen trans daughter. If anyone gave her disapproving looks I would be very angry. Maybe I am just an over-protective mom but people who are “outside the binary/norm” deserve to be treated with respect in public.

        We were at the mall and MIL put her hands on her hips and glared at an African American family. That’s not OK. I cringed so hard!

        I know everyone judges but keep it to yourself.

      • Maria

        Nadine, I am so with you on the smiles and smiling! It is a powerful and often underused tool for difficult/painful interactions. Keeping it authentic was a major challenge at first, not so much now. A genuine smile disarms, opens possibilities and hopefully sends the message that kindness trumps just about anything.

  2. Rebekah Jaunty

    Boo, hiss is right! I’m sorry they were so rude.

    I read your article on creating cleavage, and it’s impressive! Your results speak for themselves.

  3. janejetson

    Hmmm – still thinking about the body shaming. I would say it’s not their
    business but they obviously made it their business. As for the great outfit, I am so glad we are mixing brown and black now. It really works. Maybe the rule for not mixing was based on separates, brown skirt, black jacket. That could look off I suppose. But it could also be pulled together with the right top or accessories. Anyway – I love mixing neutrals and glad to see it becoming a thing.

  4. crtfly


    As I have said on your blog, you provide all of us who would like more/better cleavage a great service with your tutorial.


  5. Qamar Shehzad

    The Outfits of Disapproving looks are outstanding. Good combination of shirt and pant. i disagree the views of people who disapprove transgender. Your blog is unique and I appreciate your thinking about transgender. You are also looking graceful in this attractive Dress.
    Regard: Qamar

  6. Monica H

    Nadine, thank you so much for your contributions here and also for your tutorial on creating cleavage. As a member of the itty bitty titty committee I found it useful and appreciated it!

    I also wanted to thank you for sharing your experience here. For those like yourself who have transitioned in gender presentation during their adult lives, there is an interesting opportunity to view sexism from “the other side,” and to have that first experience of this type of judgement when you are not already used to it. Many cis women have experienced this type of judgement for so long that it just seems “normal and expected,” and we do it to each other as well. I have also read stories from trans men talking about what it was like to find themselves in the “boys club” after a long time in a female presenting body, and to note how differently they were treated. This is a unique perspective that can never be viewed by those of us who have spent all of our lives on one side of the divide or the other, and I think it is incredibly valuable to share. It helps make sure that we continue to call out everyday sexism of the type that has just become “background noise” for many of us.