Gender affirmation at an unfortunate time

In recent weeks, I have been trying to get out more. Due to coronavirus and my gender transition, I spent most of the last year isolated in my apartment. Now that things are starting to return to normal and I am vaccinated, I am slowly trying to get more comfortable going out into the world again. This has been stressful and has occasionally led to some interesting interactions, mostly revolving around ambiguity about my gender. I am still presenting as a man 100%, but I don’t pass as a man very well and do male-fail on occasion. While I am quite happy when this happens, sometimes it doesn’t occur at a good time. This was the case yesterday.

I was at a local park to play disc golf with two of my new coworkers. They play pretty regularly and had invited me to join them on their next game (they are both men). At the first tee, we were waved ahead by a family with two small children so that we didn’t have to wait for them. The father waves us ahead and I hear him say something to the effect of “let these guys go ahead of us” to his kids as they step back. One of my coworkers goes to tee off when I hear a little voice from beside me say “excuse me”. I turn to see who said that and a little girl, probably about 5, walks up to me and asks “hi, are you a girl?”. When I didn’t answer immediately, she repeats the question louder which gets the attention of my coworkers. Before I can answer, her father runs up and starts apologizing to me profusely. According to him, his two kids had gotten upset at him for referring to me as a guy and decided to prove that I was a girl by asking. I tried to downplay it but the father was uncomfortably apologetic and his wife, a distance away, decided to join in by yelling why her daughter thought I was a girl. This led to an incredibly uncomfortable situation. A small child yelling that I was a girl, her father apologizing profusely while trying to drag the kid away, the mother trying to justify her daughter’s actions by yelling reasons that I could be mistaken for a girl at me, and all in the middle of a crowded park while my coworkers stood beside me awkwardly watching the whole affair. At that moment, all I wanted was to disappear.

At the moment this all happened I was mortified, but I started to feel better about it as the day went on. The whole situation was incredibly uncomfortable, made more so by the fact that my coworkers were watching the whole thing. I could feel their eyes on me during the entire interaction and I was incredibly worried that this event might out me. But, by the time I left the park, I actually felt really good about the whole encounter. My coworkers never really questioned the situation, the most I got was a “that was weird” followed by a shrug. And even if it was in a really unusual interaction, two strangers (even if they were kids) had gendered me correctly from sight alone. That alone made me feel elated. Being gendered correctly makes me incredibly euphoric and it happens very rarely. In many ways, this short interaction was a sign that my ability to stay in the closet may be running out. Events like this only seem to be getting more common and eventually, one will out me.

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