Passing ... passing ... and then she speaks.
The first big problem I encountered was how to include "voice" in the quiz.
The brutal reality is that a masculine voice is often a
show-stopper for passing,
Many transwomen of
a very feminine appearance have a huge problem with their voice,
e.g. when answering the phone.
Vocal training helps, but rarely enough. Surgery on the voice box (laryngoplasty)
is a drastic, expensive and not always successful option.
The vast majority
of transgender women with a voice that's identified by
strangers as being "female" began taking hormones or puberty
blockers at an early age (13 or less), and so their voice never
Given all the problems, I soon removed "voice" from the quiz, and
left it as an external potential show-stopper.
easier to pass if you are (left) a petite 115lbs:
"being only 5'4" really made my transition much easier...".
But if you are 6' tall and wear size 10
shoes (right), then youth, hormones and surgery seem to be
vital to pass consistently.
Age, Height and Hormones
In the early (c.2001) versions of the quiz I gave a large weighting
to three criteria: age, height, and time on
hormones. I.e. a young and short transwoman who had been
on hormones for several years was given a huge advantage over an older
taller women who had just started hormones. This caused a
lot of feedback, a typical (paraphrased) email being:
"I'm age 54 and 6' 1" tall, according
to your quiz I have no realistic chance of passing. However I
transitioned last year and know for a fact that I pass convincingly
as an attractive woman. Your quiz is clearly wrong.
I thus tweaked the scores, whilst also trying to allow for the situation where a
6 feet tall
transwoman with little or no bust can potentially
be the 'next
top model' if she is 20 and had been taking female hormones since 17
- like Tula or Lea T.
Nevertheless, the negative feedback continued and
with some reluctance I removed
all scores directly related to age and hormone usage.
But very different in terms of height, facial appearance, voice,
bust, shoe size, build, ... - and public familiarity.
In recent years a vastly increased
public awareness of
gender identity conditions has - for good and bad - made people far more
aware of transsexual indicators, and thus successfully passing
has become harder than ever. Further, the rapid growth in
the number of transgender people means that almost everyone now knows
someone who is transgender.
these models was born 'male' and is a transsexual.
In the 1990's a rather masculine
looking woman would be given the benefit of the doubt, twenty years
later people are much quicker to leap to the conclusion that she might
be transgender. The signs that are being subconsciously being examined have
gradually moved on from major indicators such as voice, height and shoe size, to
more subtle indicators such as jaw line, hands and hair .
transwoman from the Philippines scored "good luck"
when she completed an early version of the quiz.
As result, with each iteration of the quiz I had to include yet
more attributes. These were often interlinked or even
contradictory, for example short blond hair can emphasise the
femininity of some faces, whilst long dark hair works much
better for other women.
From the beginning the quiz had subjective element, but it also had
a core of hard facts such as age, stature, weight and years on
Carmen Carrera and Haley Videckis.
Trying to compare and rank them for passability via a quiz is
After feedback (often harshly worded) I downgraded
or removed these criteria but despite years of effort I have since
found it impossible devise a revised quiz that when tested I
consider to have a reasonable degree of accuracy and fairness. I've arrived at the conclusion that it is
impossible to incorporate all the complications in to a static quiz
have deleted the quiz from this page.
What is required is a
with many complex rules, linkages and dependencies built-in,
including the use of Artificial Intelligence to assess photos,
videos and voice clips. Sadly that
is beyond my skills, although I would be happy to
and make constructive suggestions to anyone who wants to take on
such a project.
A Final Thank You
Below is a
montage of fifteen wonderful transsexual women from their 20s to
their 60's who I used to test the quiz. Many thanks to