She/His?

A couple weeks ago Ash Bartlett wrote a blog about gender identity, and while I don’t identify with the grey hairs, I do relate to being misgendered, kind of, sort of, maybe? For as long as I remember having a sense of self, I never identified as a gender. It is generally assumed that I am female, and I am treated as such, but personally, as a human in existence, I never see myself as a gender. I am just me. It doesn’t bother me when people use any of the pronouns with me, she/he/they it’s all fine. However, I always manage to get startled when someone mentions that I’m a woman. Even writing that felt weird.

There is a certain set of expectations that are associated with women that I do not appreciate, and as an immigrant whose sense of self formed in a different country, coming into the US with its gender politics so intrinsically entangled in the everyday was not the greatest part of moving. The question of gender only arose when I started participating in American culture. It is so prevalent, everywhere I turn it is discussed and brought up, sometimes without prompt. It makes me think about my gender a lot, which I don’t care about.

 

Now, I am generally assumed as female, but there are times when people ‘Sir’ me. At checkouts and in passing, I had several run-ins with folks using the he/him pronouns with me. It is done with zero vindictiveness and in the moment. These people genuinely think I’m a dude for the duration of our encounter, so there is no reason for me to be offended. The only thing that surprises me is that they make the mistake at all considering I had long hair for most of these, and even my ‘short’ hair is still a bob, so it isn’t at all masculine. The last time someone said Sir to me was actually last Thursday at my job. I work at a community center once a week teaching creative writing, and so I see the people working out front every week for months now. Last week one of them asked clearly didn’t recognized me, for reasons I’m not entirely clear on (it’s probably the gay slouch), and when I answered that I was here for the class, he seemed to have realized his mistake. We didn’t acknowledge it.

I don’t know if this means I’m nonbinary, but I do know that overall it does not matter to me. I have zero care for my gender and tend to ignore mentions of it whenever they come up. I am, however, really curious how others see themselves. Is your gender an important trait for you?

 

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4 comments

  1. Val,

    Very interesting post. I identify as female and lesbian. I believe I would fit into your grey hairs category as well, no offense taken. I really don’t know the true color of my hair anymore.
    I have been called “Sir” at times. And it does not offend me either. I really feel similar to you that I am a human first and a gender/orientation second. But most of us, like to put those we encounter into some sort of category. To make it easier for them to identify you.
    I believe we are all unique in our own ways and part of something bigger than all of us separately.

    Like

  2. Honestly, unless a comment is made with malice or clear intent to hurt, I don’t mind. I’ve never been mistaken for a man, but if I was it would not concern me. I also am not concerned about being identified as a woman or female. I am almost 60, so the whole idea of asking people what’s their preferred pronoun is foreign to me. I’m not in the habit of doing it. I honestly don’t mean to be offensive when I forget to ask, I just haven’t had enough practice, but I can learn if it is important to others and a sign of respect….all I ask is that you be kind and patient with me while I learn!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Val, I feel this all the way. I don’t really think of myself in terms of gender, and I’ve had the same reaction to the reminder that “oh, I’m a woman.” I still get called “sir” quite a bit but whatever and generally it’s always the people who call me that who freak out about it. I consider myself gender-nonconforming and that seems to be the most comfortable language I have for myself.

    Thanks for this blog and for making us think.

    Like

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