I've read that a person with enough knowledge of anatomy can tell the difference between a "woman" who is a slim man that is very good with makeup and an actual woman.

They usually claim to be able to tell the difference between the two by certain things like digit ratios and pelvic position. Is there any basis to these claims? The one I'm specifically interested in is the "position of the pelvis", as that is the most recent example of the claim I've seen. This is a direct quote from a novel that I'm reading.

EDIT: it looks like I phrased the question badly. As anongoodnurse stated, I'd like to know if there's any basis for telling if a living person is a man or a woman by looking at them.

An example is if you dress up a slim man with a feminine looking face, get a make up artist to make the face look like a very attractive woman, and put that man in a little black dress, would a person knowledgeable about human anatomy, for example a GP MD, OBGYN, mortician, or Sherlock Holmes (kidding), is there any basis for that person to be able to say: "nope, that's a dude".


1 Answer 1


"Position of the pelvis" is pretty vague, but there are very clear differences in pelvic morphology between females and males. This sexual dimorphism looks like:


Female pelves are wider and flatter, which I think you could tell from surface anatomy. Of course if you could palpate, then you could tell for sure.

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    $\begingroup$ I think the OP is asking about the difference by looking at living people. Can you tell all this by looking? "I think you could tell from surface anatomy." How? If you had a good look at the surface anatomy, you'd see a penis, and wouldn't need to palpate. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2015 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse thank you, that's exactly it. I googled the question and the information i got would be useful for an archaeologist or a pathologist, but not really some random knowledgeable genius to spot some spy cross dressing as a woman to fool the world. $\endgroup$
    – anon
    Aug 10, 2015 at 3:01
  • $\begingroup$ @ton.yeung It's something I think would have to be determined with an experiment designed specifically to answer that question, but I couldn't find any. $\endgroup$
    – jzx
    Aug 10, 2015 at 4:15

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