Friday, October 08, 2004

Life Experiences

Why do people always think that if you're a woman with short hair, you're a lesbian or a member of the opposite sex (male, for those of you not paying attention)?

I've had a number of incidences where people questioned my gender. The first one I was in a bulk food place with my niece and was wearing an Extra Large black t-shirt, glasses, no make-up and a pair of shorts. I was seeing what candy my niece wanted when an old man came up to me and said directly to my face, "You a girl or a boy?" I was shocked, to say the least, and answered, stammering, "A girl." Then he muttered something derogatory and I was flabbergasted.

The second time I was at a discount place (long gone and replaced with my beloved Merchants Warehouse which carries beers from all over the world) and I heard this old man (old people are the worst I've found) muttering something about men and woman and how you can't tell these days. I wasn't paying that much attention, but the woman near me was and she snapped at him. Apparently he had been questioning my gender, once again, and this woman was mortified enough to tell him. She gave me this very embarrassed look. I thought it was very sweet of her.

Then one day back in 1993, my sister and I were standing looking up at Mount Rushmore when I heard this man say to me, "You look like a supple young man, would you please take our picture?" As I turned to face the man, he said, "Oh, I'm sorry." And indicated that from face on he was aware that I was of the female persuasion. As I was wearing glasses, hiking shorts, tennis shoes, no make-up and small hoop earrings, I was not offended, since he did realise as soon as I turned around. To this day, "you look like a supply young man" is a common saying to me in my family.

The last big episode of gender mistakement (yes, I know it's not a word, but I've had four Guinnesses and no dinner, so deal with it) was back in 1995 or so. I was out to dinner with my brother and sister and I was completely not paying attention to the people around me, until my sister on the opposite side of the table stood up, leaned over the little wall separating the tables and said, "She's a woman!" Apparently, the man and woman had been discussing my possible gender between themselves. "Is it a woman?" "I don't know. I can't tell from the voice." And so on. The couple were so mortified that they had been caught out that they got their food to go and got the hell out.

When I moved to San Francisco, I thought things wouldn't be quite so fractious, but how wrong was it???

One Saturday afternoon I was waiting for the 47 Van Ness bus to take me to the train station. I was going down to San Mateo to visit with my aunt, uncle, cousins and brother. Now since this was family thing and not especially fancy, I was not dressed up for the occasion. I was wearing jeans, tennis shoes, sweatshirt, glasses and no make-up (I know it's a common theme here). As I'm waiting for the bus, I'm reading my book (never take a bus w/o something to read or do) and this Hispanic man says to me, "You have very pretty eyes." Now, I don't get a boatload of compliments, so I thought this was very nice of him. I say, "Thank you." And his reply was "Even if you are a lesbian." *sigh*

I just looked at him and said, "I'm not a lesbian." The bus pulled up at this point and I got. He followed and in front of a busload of passengers, he looked at me and said, "I'm sorry." I said, "It's okay." because I'm a lame-ass.

Another time I was walking home from picking up the cremains of my beloved Zapata, so I was already not very happy as you could imagine, and as I'm crossing the street to my apt. a small white truck with two Hispanic men (not sure why but they were always Hispanic) yelled the lovely Dyke word at me. I just flipped them off. I was too depressed to tell them to fuck off.

So, for the record, not all short-haired women are Lesbians and all Lesbians don't have short hair. Okay? Got it?


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