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Mommy, Is That a Boy or a Girl?

So, I get this question sometimes, like today, as my husband and I were leaving our local diner. A little kid waiting in line with its (I didn’t notice if it was a boy or girl, ironically) mother to use the toilet asked the mom about my gender just as I exited out the back door. I just laughed – I’m never offended by the question when it comes from a child. They’re working out their world and it’s not the first time that I’ve been asked by a child in the 4-8 age range where I fall on the gender spectrum. I almost went back in to have a conversation with the kid, but it is hot and I really wanted to go home. Maybe I should have gone back in because on the way home I started thinking about the incident.

Had the child never seen a woman with short hair? I once asked a friend if I really read that “masculine” and that friend said ‘you’re clipped, to the point, and assertive. In this culture, yes.” And we both agreed that was utterly pathetic because really, what is it teaching women but to be soft, pliant, indecisive, and stupid? I should mention that I purposely tend to reign in my body language when I’m out and about – if I don’t curb it, if I just allow myself to walk and move naturally, I find that women often become frightened. I move with strength and purpose (and find myself incredibly annoyed by those who don’t. figure out what you’re doing and where you’re going and do it or get the fuck out of the way). It really brings home the message of weakness and compliance that young girls are taught in this country. My friend went on to say, “you want to know what most people expect of women look at fox news.” I almost barfed. I am too fucking intelligent to behave that way. Sorry, folks, just can’t dumb myself down enough. How unfeminine of me, I know. *sarcasm*

Another friend of mine came over after breakfast – he is doing a bit of a repair job for me at my house—and when I told him what happened he made an offhand comment that he wondered if I’d start seeing more of this questioning as people get crazier and crazier over bathrooms and gender. I told him I already have. While no one has yet approached or harassed me, I’ve been given the definite stink eye by a couple of older gentlemen when I used the ladies room at a local art exhibit. I find myself more aware of those around me when I’m going to the toilet (and I have OAB – I go to the toilet a lot so I have quite a bit of time to contemplate the bathroom insanity in this country). It’s not lost on me that not only are those bathroom laws transphobic, but they also force feminization on women, a very particular 1950s brand presentation. It’s utter bullshit. (And let me tell you, the first person to accost me for using the ladies room is going to get the crudest, grossest, rudest response I can muster – and they’d better hope I’m not menstruating at the time—such bigotry deserves no less and I can be amazingly crude when the situation calls for it).

I have been accosted in the past because people have assumed I was gay. The most egregious occasion occurred in Europe. I was walking arm in arm with my mother. We both have short hair and apparently that’s all that’s needed for a certain type of small-minded bigot to make assumptions. We were nearly attacked. I stood my ground against the three attackers while my mother went to get the police and fortunately they backed down but it was very close and I never again went out with her without keeping one eye peeled for potential violence. That changed the way that I look at all of this.

These bathroom laws are about forcing a specific gender compliance, nothing more. It’s not only trans folk who are being harassed, but there have also been cases of women with short hair (longer than mine, I might add), and cancer patients having been harassed too. This is about forcing men and women to dress and comport themselves in a certain way, a way that the fundamentalist Christian right finds appropriate. Well, fuck them. THEY are the problem, not trans people who need to pee.

We have radical Islamic terrorists shooting up gay clubs, imams preaching that to kill LGBTQ people is the “compassionate choice” (I wish I could find the podcast where I learned about this…it happened at a mosque 45 mins outside of Orlando), we have Republicans making laws ostensibly to protect the children…unless those children are gay or trans or bi (or poor, or African-American, or, or, or…). We’re no longer the ‘land of the free and home of the brave,” instead we’re the land of ignorant, small-minded, frightened bigots and we should be better than that. Maybe we should grow up as a country and stop using “the children” as an excuse for our bigotry. In the meantime, this heterosexual cis-gendered woman stands gladly with the LGBTQ community.