Tuesday, February 07, 2006

just so you know,

"I'm not a girl."

I'm still struggling with how to correct people's erroneous assumptions about my gender. I want to be firm, but polite- to calmly and kindly point out that they've made an error in assessment, but one that's easily fixed. I don't want to be a jerk about it, but I don't want to let it go. The trouble for me seems to be overcoming my (mild, but definitive) panic and defensiveness when such mistakes occur.

Today when my student worker asked me if Simon's Rock was "a girl's college" I was taken aback, and replied with something else that we were talking about- soccer, I think- before I worked up my nerve and returned back to it with "And I'm not a girl, actually, notwithstanding any evidence to the contrary. I go by 'he'." and waited just long enough for a glimmer of understanding in her eye before carrying on about soccer. I didn't have the guts to get into it more, and I don't always feel that I should have to get into it. Right? Shouldn't I be able to just say "Nope, I'm a boy" and move on?

But I wonder if it's somewhat irresponsible of me to just toss off a statement like that, to someone who may have no experience with trans identity at all. It could leave her floundering or confused or at a loss, and I don't want to do that. The snappish retort to that from the weary/nervous parts of me is that it's not my dog (a la Mistress Matisse http://mistressmatisse.blogspot.com/2004/10/word-whores-now-and-then-ill-coin.html). But really, isn't part of my stated mission in life to use my experience to raise visibility for gender variance?

Such a fine balance between consciousness raising as responsibility or burden.

And I'm determined to stand my ground and say that they are, indeed, mistakes, though really these people are just operating under all of the data they have available to them and drawing a not entirely unreasonable conclusion. I guess that's another one of the missions of the gender revolution: to add data such as "It's entirely possible that masculine presenting individuals with archetypically female secondary sex characteristics do not identify as girls" etc.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

fascinating. do you still feel the same way?