A Series of Unfortunate Misgendering Events

From time to time (ok, like, every other week), I get misgendered by somebody. It might be a TSA agent, "Ok, we're going to cut the line at this young man and bring everybody after him over here," or the barista who brings me a drink, "Alright sir, here's your latte. Enjoy!" Sometimes, it's other people's kids, like when 6-yr-old Brendan confessed that, "I thought you were a boy when you first got here because you played with us!"

And in each instance, I get to choose my reaction. I could, for instance, go up to that TSA agent and ask to borrow a tampon. I could say "THANKS!" to the barista in my highest pitched voice and push my boobs up. I could tell little Brendan that, "Look dude, gender is a construct designed to reinforce patriarchal power roles that have kept women oppressed since the dawn of humankind, and you've already been raised to believe that rowdy play is a BOY thing, which is kinda messed up. As a young person, you hold the hope for us to be a society where what's in your pants doesn't matter, so I need you to watch some 'Orange Is the New Black' and stay woke."

But I don't say that. Oftentimes, I don't say anything. Because the truth is, I am still shocked when I get called sir or "him" or any other male pronoun (still waiting to be called bruh, though...still waiting patiently). It took me a long while to walk to my closet and feel the freedom of putting on whatever felt good that day, whether I rocked heels and a skirt or Toms and a button down.

To quote Her Majesty The Queen, Rupaul says, "We're all born naked and the rest is drag."

To quote Her Majesty The Queen, Rupaul says, "We're all born naked and the rest is drag."

The liberation came from knowing deep in my bones that it didn't matter how I wanted to present that day, that my confidence would flow from the renewable resource of Giving Fewer and Fewer F---s About What Other People Think. This internal battle has given me a sense of self and identity that fuel my work, my relationships, and my wellbeing.

And YET, because I have been socialized not to make people feel uncomfortable, if I look at them and they realize their mistake, I'M the one that excuses the moment. I'm all, "Oh, don't worry about it, happens all the time," which sort of implies, "No problem, I can see how my existence was just hard for you."

Tig Notaro has a great bit about being confused for a man while ordering food. The cashier is mortified and making all sorts of apologies, and meanwhile Tig is looking up at the menu, already mid-sentence on, "Yeah, I think I'd like a burger, but hold the oni--..." She doesn't waste her energy getting mad at people. More and more I think I just need to let it go. On the other hand, I count it as a gift to be reminded that every minute of every day for a transperson or someone who is gender nonconforming has the potential for that knee-jerk reaction. But I sure would love to live in a world where the "zany differences between the sexes!!!!" was not simulcast into our brains like a Clockwork Orange.

This one's for my Java nerds:

if (shorthair+tall+notfemale) {
    greeting = "How about those Lions?";
} else {
    greeting = "I see that you've added tremendous value to this company, but a salary increase is based on business need and you're making the industry standard now, sooooo.....";