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Average Body Size
and Feminizing Hormone Therapy

 [This article should be read in conjunction with the article on Male and Female Skeleton]

This page relates and compares the average sizes of American (USA) men and women, there also are some notes relating to transsexual women at the end.
 

Measurements of height and weight have little overlap between male and females, and thus can be used to correctly distinguish between men and women 9 out of 10 times.

Several sets of tables of anthropometrical measurements are provided here.  The first set is derived from MIL-STD-1472D that relates and compares the typical sizes of American men and women for Human Engineering uses, more than 1000 students were measured to collect the data.  The second set is derived from a 1997 study for the US Defense Logistics Agency, a group of 127 U.S. Army recruits (60 males and 67 females) were measured for some two dozen dimensions relevant to military dress clothing.   For interest, standard garment sizes are listed in a table 3.  The fourth set is from the book "Body Composition and Physical Appearance: Applications for the Military Services, (1992)" which compares the size and body composition of 30 to 39 year old males and females in Michigan. Finally, some interesting percentile graphs from Halls are provided, unfortunately the data source is not stated.

There are a few strange anomalies (possibly errors) in the results, but it's not possible to resolve these without access to the original data. 

Only table set 1 is considered for the findings because of the larger sample and the far more comprehensive data.  However it is interesting to compare the tables 1 and 2, generally the measurements in table set 2 are slightly less than those in set 1. 
 

Notes to Tables:

  • All measurements are in inches

  • Clothing sizes are USA standards, not UK

  • A small number of the figures would appear strange and probably erroneous, but lacking access to the original source material it is impossible to correct these.

  • Adding and subtracting the standard deviation sigma will give a range that includes about 68.3% of the male or female population

  • Adding or subtracting (2 x sigma) will include about 95.4% of the population

  • Adding or subtracting (3 x sigma) will include about 99.7% of the population

E.g. About 68.3 % of women are between 61.67 and 66.83 inches in height, and 99.7% are between 56.51 and 71.99 inches in height. 

Table Set 1

IN HEIGHT FROM THE GROUND

ITEM

Male sigma Female sigma Male Female
(inch) +/- (inch) +/- Normalised to height
Top of Head 68.60 2.74 64.25 2.58 1.000 1.000
Shoulder 56.65 2.46 52.50 2.49 .826 .817
Nipple 50.05 2.22 46.65 2.22 .730 .726
Elbow 43.10 2.01 40.50 1.88 .628 .630
Waist 41.65 2.22 40.00 2.07 .607 .623
Crotch 33.05 1.85 29.90 1.89 .482 .465
Knee (top) 20.90 1.34 18.95 1.06 .305 .295

 

DIFFERENCE MEASUREMENTS:

ITEM

Male sigma Female sigma Male Female
(inch) +/- (inch) +/- Normalised to height
Shoulder-Crotch/Torso Length 23.60 2.16 22.60 2.19 .344 .352
Shoulder-Knee 35.75 1.90 33.55 1.78 .521 .522

 

HEAD / HAND / FOOT SIZES

ITEM

Male sigma Female sigma Male Female
(inch) +/- (inch) +/- Normalised to height
Head Circumference 22.05 .68 21.65 .66 .321 .337
Head Breadth 6.00 .25 5.73 .24 .087 .089
Ear Length (Height) 2.45 .17 2.06 .17 .036 .032
Neck Circ./Size 14.80 .79 13.10 .79 .216 .204
Palm Length 4.19 .26 3.90 .21 .061 .061
Hand Length 7.49 .39 7.10 .48 .109 .111
Finger Length 3.30 .32 3.20 .35 .048 .050
Hand Breadth 3.52 .19 3.03 .19 .051 .047
Hand Circumference 8.48 .49 7.22 .36 .124 .112
Glove Size XLarge Medium    
Heel/Ankle Circumference 13.45 .68 12.16 .58 .196 .189
Foot Circ. at ball 9.83 .59 8.91 .45 .143 .139
Foot Breadth 3.91 .23 3.50 .21 .057 .054
Foot Length 10.53 .53 9.58 .51 .153 .149
Shoe Size Size 10.5 Size 8    

 

MISCELLANEOUS

ITEM

Male sigma Female sigma Male Female
  (inch) +/- (inch) +/- Normalised to height
Bust Size 37.35 2.64 35.15 2.64 .544 .547
      Size 10    
Waist Size 32.35 3.31

28.15

2.89 .472 .438
  Size 16W

Size 14/12W

   
Hip Size 37.80 2.61 37.75 2.46 .551 .588
  Size 12W Size 12    
Trunk Circumference

64.80

3.34

60.75

2.89 .945 .946
  Size 17 Size 11    

 

Table Set 2

 
ITEM

 

Male (n=60)

Female (n=67)

Mean

sigma

Mean sigma
(inch) +/- (inch) +/-

Bicep Circumference, Flexed

   

11.16

0.91

Buttock Circumference

37.85

2.98

38.34

2.26

Chest Circumference

38.11

2.98

36.21

2.59

Chest Circumference, Scye

   

35.77

2.16

Coat Length¬

27.36

1.41

25.77

1.09

Crotch Height

32.68

2.18

30.81

1.75

Inside Sleeve Length, Right¬

18.73

1.28

17.50

1.19

Interscye II

   

14.93

0.91

Rise, NI¬

11.15

0.84

10.20

0.77

Shoulder Circumference

45.81

3.00

   

Shoulder Slope, Right¬

2.20

0.50

1.73

0.28

Bust Position¬

   

13.27

0.99

Waist Circumference, NI 

31.86

3.08

28.97

2.42

Waist Circumference, O

32.76

3.50

   

Waist Height, O

41.32

2.39

 

 

Waist Height, NI

   

41.01

2.07

Front Waist Length, O¬

   

21.23

1.21

Skirt Length, NI¬ 

   

23.24

1.23

Stature 

68.37

3.07

63.76

2.25

Weight (pounds)

160.43

29.90

138.20

19.12

Key:
 NI = natural indentation
 O = Omphalion
 ¬ = Calculated dimensions

Table Set 3

For reference, standard measurements for garment sizes are:

SIZE

FEMALE

MALE

Hips Waist Waist

X-Small

32"-34"

22"-24"

 

Small

35"-36"

25"-26"

28"-30"

Medium

37"-39"

27"-29"

32"-34"

Large

40"-41"

30"-31"

36"-38"

X-Large

42"-43"

32"-33"

40"-42"

 

Table Set 4

Correspondence between Male and Female Percentiles for Size and Body Composition:
 

MEASURE

Male Centiles Corresponding to:
Women's 50th Percentile Women's 85th Percentile
Height 2.0 13.1

Weight

7.0 40.6

Fat Weight

34.0 88.5

Lean body Weight

2.3 18.1
Bone Area 3.4 10.4
Cortical Area 2.0 14.0
Medullary Area 34.4 48.0

Skeletal Weight

0.8 8.4

An example of how to read the table: the fiftieth percentile for height in women corresponds to the second percentile in men, i.e. half of all women are shorter than the shortest 2% of all men.  Also 85% of women are shorter than the shortest 13.1% of men. 

Graph's

The following two tables show weight and height percentiles for American Caucasian women:


As an example of how to read the tables, a 40 year old woman who is about 174cm tall (5ft 8 inches) is on the 95 percentile, i.e. only 5% of all women are shorter.  The tables for men are not shown, but a 40 year old man at the 50 percentile (i.e. average) is about 179 cm (5ft 10 inches) tall.

Some Findings:
The numbers confirm some things we know instinctively, but disprove others:

  • Men are taller than women, by 4.34 inches on average

  • Women have proportionally longer torso's (35.2% of height vs. 34.4%)

  • Men are leggier, if looked at from the crotch (48.3% vs. 46.5%) ....

  • .... although women are leggier if looked at from the waist (62.3% vs. 60.7%)

  • Men have longer thigh's (17.7% vs. 17.0%) and longer calves (30.5% vs. 29.5%)

  • Women have bigger heads then men, relative to height

  • Stature, bone area, cortical area and skeletal weight all offer an excellent means of differentiating between men and women

The average man is taller than more than 97% of women from the same ethnic group - a surprisingly high  number until high heels are discounted.  The widespread assumption that women have relatively longer legs than men also seems to be based more on high heels and short skirts than fact.

Only Table Set 1 is considered further

Effects of Female Hormones - Started Before Puberty

Based primarily on studies of AIS women and a small number of male babies re-assigned female at birth, it does seems that the early hormone treatment of a transsexual boy-to-girl has a significant effect on the physique.  The limited evidence suggests that typically a transsexual woman who started hormones before the on-set of male puberty will as an adult be statistically of normal female size and proportions for a woman of her height and weight, excepting some primarily skeletal related items such as hands and feet.


Pre-SRS Michelle shows off her body.

It's thought that the male "Y" chromosome is mainly responsible for growth so as the girl is genetically "XY" there will inevitably be some degree of skeletal masculinisation.  However early female hormone treatment (perhaps combined with surgical removal of the testes) will reduce levels of "male" androgen hormones such as testosterone, and this seems to have some slight benefits, for example slightly broadening the pelvis and reducing the girls adult height (by perhaps an inch) compared with if she had experienced a male puberty.

In general, physical characteristics primarily determined by the body skeleton (e.g. height, size and shape of hands and feet) will lie between the male and female norms post-puberty - although tending more towards the former than the later.  This not necessarily bad as the western idea of feminine beauty is for tall and leggy women.  As an adult, compared to the average woman, the girl will typically be tall (67.5" vs. 64.25") and have long legs - both absolutely (32.4" vs. 29.9") and relative (48.3% vs. 46.5%) to her height.

Body shape is primarily controlled by oestrogen so its early use allows a normal female body shape to develop, particularly if taken while the body is at its most receptive age - the critical puberty years between about 11 and 15 (depending on the individual).  In this case the girl's final post-puberty body shape and "figure" will be obviously female, far closer to genetic female than genetic male in its characteristics.  During this key period it is also quite possible (although still rarely done with transsexual boy-to-girls) for an endocrinologist to adjust (slightly increase) the oestrogen dosage of a girl who seems likely to be undesirably tall so as to slow and prematurely stop her bone growth, thereby reducing her final adult height to within female norms.


An interesting graphic comparing the ideal female (as drawn by Andrew Loomis)
with two genetic women and an intersex woman in their 20's


A painter with a transsexual model who has extraordinary mix of strongly male and strongly female physical characteristics.

Effects of Female Hormones - Started After Puberty
Medical studies indicate that a male-to-female transsexual who starts hormone and gender reassignment treatment as an adult will usually be beginning with a male physique normal for his age.  There is absolutely no evidence that his/her body is likely to be more "feminine" in its size, proportions and characteristics than any other man.

Male-to-female transsexuals undergoing sex reassignment after puberty have the major disadvantage in that a normal and average degree of hormonal masculinisation has already taken place.  Unfortunately, the complete elimination of all the hormonally induced sex characteristics of the male sex is not possible.  In particular, the previous effects of androgens on the skeleton (the average greater height, the size and shape of hand, feet, jaws, and of the male type pelvis) cannot be reversed by female hormone treatment.  Only major and dangerous surgery can feminize the appearance of [some] of these masculinised bones, otherwise the physical characteristics of the transsexual determined primarily by the body skeleton will remain constant and probably typically "male" in their absolute size. 


Barbie has the ideal body
size and proportions for many TS women!

However, skeletal size does show a considerable overlap between the sexes, so in some transsexual women the residual male physical characteristics will be far less visible than in others.  For example, about 25% of MTF transsexuals are lucky enough to be of normal female height (between about 61½" and 67" in the USA), although conversely about 35% will be exceptionally tall (over 69½") for a woman.  One study of 74 post-SRS women found that their average height was 70 inches with a sigma of ± 2 inches; this is rather tall even compared with men.  Indeed, while genetic women over 6 feet tall are rare (just 2% of the population), nearly 15% of transsexual women reach this height - handy if they have the age and looks to be a model (aka Tula) but probably rather too noticeable otherwise.


Even in the late starter, a combination of long-term hormone use and a willingness to resort to surgery can result an extremely feminine overall body shape.

Hormones will of course affect and feminise many secondary sexual characteristics such as fat distribution, musculature and breast development, thereby altering some physical characteristics (e.g. breast size and waist) more towards female norms in proportions, although they're very unlikely to ever actually reach these.  Typically, the MTF transsexual will lose about 9 lbs (4 kg) of lean body mass (muscle), but will more than replace this with female type fat and other tissue (e.g. breast) deposits, indeed an overall weight gain of up to 11 lbs (5 kg) is quite normal if there is no change in life style.

Examples

For examples of the effects of early female hormone treatment (i.e. begun during normal puberty) on the genetic XY male body, see this article and the galleries of Roberta Close, Eva Robin's and Jenny HiloudakiKim Novak also offers an excellent example of the effect of oestrogen on the body when unopposed by androgen.  For exceptionally favourable examples of the effect of hormones started soon after male puberty see the galleries of Amanda Lear, Dana International and Bibiana Fernandez.  The article Female Physical Beauty is also worth studying as a baseline for comparison.

Surgical Feminisation of the Male Skeleton

You may now want to read the article on this site about feminisation surgery on the genetic male, which includes some interesting examples.

    


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Copyright (c) 2003, Annie Richards

Last updated: 15 August 2004