It happens all the time… So much that I should be used to it by now. It still surprises me a little though when people call me sir or refer to me as male when I’m wearing a skirt. I understand that it may be confusing when I’m in jeans and a t-shirt, but I would think a skirt should be fairly obvious.
It used to crush me. Hearing someone call me sir was embarrassing to say the least and caused a fair amount of social anxiety and dysphoria. It made me feel like less of a person, worthless, hopeless, helpless. I avoided shopping, using public restrooms, going out to eat.
I was afraid of being called what I was not because I feared that the people I cared about would see through me. I was afraid that if my friends saw or heard someone treat me like a male, they would question my character… as though someone’s perception of my gender would indicate deception or inconsistencies in my life. I was afraid that not being seen as a woman indicated that I was not worthy to be a woman, to go to activities for women, to associate with other women on a girl-to-girl level. I was afraid that people’s perceptions of me created my reality.
I now realize that my thinking was faulty. My friends aren’t going to disown me because someone calls me a guy, and they are not going to question everything they know about me because of a misperception. However, they may stand up for me or comfort me or reassure me that I am okay and that they see me as more than the random stranger that calls me sir.
Still, getting called a man so often makes you question your resolve. It makes me wonder how easy it would be to become a man by society’s standards. How easily could I blend in? How hard would it be to transition? It would likely be incredibly easy and a fairly smooth transition in most areas of my life.
But the truth is, I like being a girl. I don’t like wearing skirts and dresses, and periods are the bane of my existence, but overall I enjoy the quality of my existence. I enjoy “girl talk”, even when I don’t exactly relate to any of it. I actually sort of enjoy shopping, when I don’t have to worry about getting kicked out of dressing rooms or getting strange looks from people. And I love the mother daughter relationship I have with my mom and the sisterhood I share with my only sister.
But, for my sanity, to be okay with being consistently called a male, I classify as genderless. To not get offended or embarrassed, I don’t identify myself by my gender. I am female, but that doesn’t really matter because it’s not how people see me, but who I am that matters.
If I have learned anything from this process of acceptance, it is that it doesn’t matter how people see me, but how I see myself. I am not my inconsistencies. I am not my misperceptions. I am worth just as much when I am called a man as when I am called a woman.