Now of course, my gender non-conformity isn't news to anyone who sees me on a regular basis, but there are a lot of people on Facebook that I haven't seen in quite a while. Most of these are friends from the conservative Christian community I was a part of in my "previous life," before I moved to Edmonton. I can't help but think that many among that group might be close-minded about all this gendery stuff.
Wintersun, the band I mentioned, is a heavy metal group from Finland. I listen to fairly wide variety of music genres, but metal is what first got me into music as a teenager, and it will probably always hold a special place in my heart. Lately I've come to appreciate a certain defiant attitude that pervades a lot of metal music: it's the same kind of defiant attitude it takes to go out into the world as a boy with a kick-ass shade of red on your nails.
When I had to pee I opted for the men's room. I figure that if I'm presenting somewhat ambiguously, the fact that I'm standing at a urinal should tip the scale toward male for anyone present who might be confused. It's always stressful though. I was glad there were lots of people around so I didn't have to worry about getting beat up. When I washed my hands the guy at the sink next to me stared at me the whole time. I was very, very glad to finish up and get out of that gendered space.
Immediately after this I went to buy some souvlaki at the food court. The cashier called me "ma'am." Like three times.
Holy shit, are you serious?
I remembered many years ago, when I was doing a very good job of suppressing my gender, that I used to get taken for female now and then because of my long hippie hair. At the time this bothered me (because, like I said, suppressing my gender), so as soon as I could I grew a hippie beard to go with it. That seemed to convince everyone I was a man. Heck, I nearly convinced myself.
Nowadays, of course, I am generally very happy to be seen as female, because I'm beginning to accept that that's who I am. But in this case it kind of freaked me out. It's stressful when you don't know whether the next person to look at you will see a man or a woman. Or at least it is to me.
What I gained today is an even deeper respect for genderqueer and other non-binary people who present androgynously on a regular basis. Navigating a binary world that doesn't have a category for you is just plain hard sometimes.
(And in case you're wondering, I spent like five minutes taking pictures of my fist and another ten messing around in GIMP to produce the illustration for this post. I am far too easily side-tracked, it seems.)