I was out in Ali mode, doing my usual Saturday scouring of the local Salvation Army Thrifts, when I had my first “gendering” incident, which was pleasant. And my second, which was less so.
The first happened as I was navigating my way through the furniture section. An older man was sitting down in an office chair, testing it out (or maybe just taking a load off), and his legs were sticking out of the aisle and right in my way. He saw me coming and moved his legs, saying as he did so, “Whoops, sorry about that, hon’.”
Hey, I said it was a first; I didn’t say it was exciting!
In fact, it was the exact opposite — it was mundane and, on his part, completely reflexive. Which means either he didn’t get a good look at me before speaking or I pass a little better on casual glance than I think I do. And since I hadn’t made a huge effort with the makeup today (see pic), I’ll assume he just didn’t take a second glance.
Later on in the very same store, I was rummaging the clothing racks when I heard someone behind me exclaim. “Wow! It’s amazing how many tall women I run into here! How tall are you?”
It honestly took me a second to realize that she was speaking to me. So I looked over my shoulder and, trying to summon some scrap of a feminine voice (I’ve been working on it a bit), said “six-foot-four” and smiled.
The voice I had managed wasn’t even remotely feminine, just sort of croaky. And … cue the realization on her part that all was not as it seemed from behind. Her smile just kind of froze on her face, and she said, “Wow, I’ll bet!” Then she turned and went into another aisle.
When I’m out I usually try to actually interact with people as little as possible. Clerks, when I’ve had to interact with them, have never openly gendered me at all — no “Sir” or “Ma’am”, just functional communication like “Here’s your change, have a good day.” So to have two moments in one day was kind of jarring for me.
Guess I’d better get used to it!