Life on the Other Side

I’m not the most passable guy around. I have a runners build – strong legs, but scrawny as heck arms and practically no shoulders. I don’t have a chubby face or anything, but it definitely doesn’t have the angles that scream “male!” Ninety five percent of the time people treat me and consider me as a female. The other five percent, mostly with strangers or people I haven’t known that well, I get to live on the other side.

Some things I’ve noticed:

  • Holding doors for others (which I usually did already), is non-negotiable. If this is forgotten then I am way more likely to get a dirty or offended look.
  • People, usually women, are more likely to avoid me on the street. It’s not like I’m intimidating or anything, but I think it’s just a general safety issue. I can’t help people anymore, by helping bring them to their destination like I used to because it seems like they feel uncomfortable with me knowing where they are. Again, safety issue.
  • People in customer service are more likely to cross personal space barriers. For example, the other day a man came up behind me and patted me on the back to get my attention, asking how he could help me. He was going to say sir, but when I turned around, it came out more like Sam and he lept back a foot or so.
  • People are more likely to rely on me. This one’s kind of hard to explain, but it seems like I am expected to carry stuff, find information, lead a group, and be more helpful in general.
  • People sometimes avoid pronouns. When I’m out to lunch with my family, they miiight use Sir the first time, but usually they ma’am and sir my family, but just go “and for you?” when they get to me. I’ve also had a customer service person refer to me first as “he” and then after I talked as “they.” It was the first time I’d gotten that pronoun.

Of people I know, some things have also changed.

  • I pass to the older people that my friend lives with. When I was over visiting her, she asked to keep the door to her room open so they wouldn’t assume anything was going on. It was something I hadn’t even thought about.
  • I don’t get invited to certain things anymore, like to hang out with my friend that was nannying.
  • A friend was passing out magazines to read and didn’t offer me one. They were kind of feminine-topic and they did joke about them having women in for the guys to look at, but I wasn’t really included in that either. I seem to fall in between.
  • Many times, I will look at a group that I’m in and I’m not standing/talking with the guys or the girls, just with someone random.
  • I’ve stopped being invited/forced into girl-only things like pictures. Though someone did get me to go to a ice-cream social that I thought would have guys, it was only intended for gals. Which sucked. I wanted to melt into the wall.
  • My guy friend stopped making me go in front of him in line and let me go through the door after him.

Sometimes I think it’s impossible that I need to wait two and a half more years before I can medically transition. Sometimes I think that there’s so much do transition that doesn’t involve hormones that it might be a good thing that it will be so gradual. I’m not one to live by gender stereotypes, but there is still an interesting sort of transition in how people perceive you.

Have you had any interesting experiences with transitioning? Or if you aren’t trans, have you had any encounters with a transperson that left you thinking?

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7 Comments

Filed under trans/lgbt stuff

7 responses to “Life on the Other Side

  1. I found that the more conservative people are, the more likely they are to see me as male. I think some of it is you “dress like a boy so you are a boy” because in their two gender boxes of male and female I was closer to the male side. Even when I had shoulder length hair but dressed in mostly guys/androgynous clothes I passed as male. Also they would rather call a girl a guy than call a guy a girl because they seem to think calling someone a girl is an insult.

    • Definitely! When I’m at an LGBT function I’m almost always assumed to be a butch lesbian, but I pass as a guy much more around conservative peeps. I think if I had a bit deeper voice I’d pass pretty well around people I don’t know. I’ve definitely found the same pattern. Do you ever get taken by surprise when you pass? I’m used to people misgendering me by correcting themselves later (after I talk) and when they don’t and I still am in contact I feel like I have to talk in a lower voice or they’ll find out.

      • Yeah same here. Sometimes I am like -wow you think I’m a guy I’m barely making an effort to pass today. But then I start really making an effort like deepening my voice and changing my stance and then they get confused. Usually once someone genders me they usually don’t go back on it. but sometimes they just stare like “wait i did something wrong should i apologize sorry sorry sorry” and then we’re both uncomfortable and want to leave.

        • Yeah sometimes it can be realy awkward. Someone was trying to find somethig in the grocery store and I pointed her in the igtdirection. She was talking to her kid and said, “she uh, he uh, she was helping mommy out.” I’d never had someone go back and forth so much… Was pretty awkward.

          • Wow that’s pretty awkward. A lot of people just are confused by someone breaking their idea of normal. I think if people knew about gender neutral pronouns or asking pronouns it’d be nicer for a lot of people.

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever considered how some everyday social situations are related to gender and how confusing it may be to someone transitioning to have to unlearn certain behaviors and expectations and learn new ones. Especially when you go into a situation unsure of what people will perceive your gender to be. Very interesting.

  3. urbanmythcafe

    People often jump through linguistic hoops to avoid using any pronouns for me. Other times, I get “Sir … Ma’am … Sir”
    It really depends on the situation. It does tend to be contagious. If one person confidently starts calling me “he” everyone else goes along. If someone confidently calls me “she,” everyone usually goes along with that.

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