Saturday, April 04, 2009


I think this is the most intensely I have ever felt my gender and my gender presentation to be at odds. I say this having been mistaken in my youth for a boy, and having gone through a couple of periods (in college and grad school) during which I cut my hair quite short and was often called "sir". The grad school short haircut was a mistake - I had gone in to get a cut and had a disastrous miscommunication with the hairdresser, who cut my hair shorter than it had ever been before. After that haircut, there was a noticeable, confused reaction from people who saw me on the street and couldn't tell whether the close-cropped person in a bulky winter jacket was a man or a woman.

I have been surprised to find that I kind of like my new body, sans breasts. I feel somewhat streamlined. I feel comfortable. I'm still figuring out what clothes to wear - I had finally figured out "what not to wear," and now I need to rethink it all for a new shape - but it's also kind of fun to try on looks I could never wear before.

I've been wearing a lot of earrings and scarves this week, both of which signal my gender to people. The scarves help camouflage the absolute flat plane of my chest - they don't hide it, but I think they make it less obvious. The earrings make my hair look more intentional. Together, they look good, and I've been happy with how I look.

But yesterday, I ran out of clothing options, and I ended up wearing jeans and a fleece hoodie. I forgot to wear earrings. And I realized that I was a walking gender contradiction, at least to some people. I don't pass as a man, and my voice and my movements betray me as a woman, but upon first glance, I am sure that some people would mistake me for a man or would need a second glance to figure me out. Thankfully, I didn't think about this until halfway through the day, so I didn't spend all day worrying about whether or not people were staring at me.

I know that I'm writing about this from a place of privilege. My hair will grow back and it will continue to be a gender indicator that will allow people to easily read me as a woman. Or maybe I will get prosthetics and that will be their cue. Either way, this is a temporary state, but it's one that requires some thought on my part.

(Off-topic: Please welcome David Capogna to the blogroll.)


Lara said...

My situation was remarkably different, because I _chose_ to occasionally pass as a boy when I was in college, and you're not choosing your situation now. I had a very short, boy's haircut and I was less curvy than I am now because I was thinner and more muscular (I was a long-distance swimmer in high school). Still, for drag dances, halloween, and occasional nights on Northampton, I would bind my breasts with an ace bandage, and wear jeans and a polo shirt. I was still very short, which was a problem, and my voice was never all that convincing, but I enjoyed it. I really owned my space and didn't have unwelcome attention from straight guys. The only problem was that my FTM friend would run the other way. He was a little homophobic and didn't like seeing me that way. It was always a costume for me, like putting in vampire fangs, but I had a great time. Anyway, I'm sure anyone who's looking at you is noticing those fantastic blue eyes before they worry about your gender status. :)

Green said...

Does your head get cold? In college when I shaved the back of my head, I remember it made me get the chills quite often.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Yes. I am indoors right now and wearing a fleece hat.

Plain(s)feminist said...

aw (blush)