Gender confusion: It’s not you, it’s me

I ran into Panera’s today to grab a quick takeout lunch for my son, who was home sick from school.

As soon as I got my order, I headed for the front door where an elderly couple was planning an exit and blocking the doorway.  It was raining like crazy, and they were trying to figure out the quickest way to their car.

When the old woman noticed me, she nudged  her husband.

“Come on, honey, we’re holding this –”

That’s when her eyes moved up and landed on my face.

“– person up.”

She had made a perfect “o” with her mouth.

I imagined everything that she knew or thought she did spilling out from the perfectly round hole in that moment of confusion.  Boy or girl?

She went for person.  A quick save for an old lady.

I flashed my best smile and told her not to rush.  I hoped that the light, pleasant tone of my voice would ease her discomfort and let her know that it wasn’t a big deal.

Don’t worry, it happens all the time, I wanted to say.

P.S. It’s not you, it’s me.

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16 responses to “Gender confusion: It’s not you, it’s me

  1. That is so much better than “sir, I mean miss, I’m sorry….” It reminds me of the time I was out walking Gracie and there was a Dad and his daughter rollerskating towards me, and the kid did one of those arm flailing almost but not quite falls, and the Dad turned and said “Great recovery.”

  2. Great call by the old lady. She might be pondering that one all afternoon.

  3. I don’t get this as often as I used to (which is strange to me since I think i look more masculine now than I once did.) but like you, I just take it with a smile and a certain degree of understanding. … It’s not you. It’s me. Perfect.

  4. Quick thinking!

  5. I swear I can remember all the times someone called me sir instead of ma’am. Now that I’m older ma’am is just as bad…

  6. This happens all the time to me – particularly the funny look as you walk into the ladies toilet – ive become quite laid back about it but my wife is like a Rottweiler about it.
    One time she wanted me to accompany her into a changing room to ‘help’ her try on some clothing (probably made worse by the fact that it was for lingerie…) and after looking at me the sales assistant said something like ‘Oh im sorry its ladies only in here’ – before I could even open my mouth my wife was in there ‘ She is a woman! Are you blind?’
    This last point was made with a vague wave at my chest (38FF) – the sales assistant huffed and puffed and kind of apologised – we went into the changing room and I went to sit on one of those seat – bench things that flip down on a spring – except I didn’t realise it would flip up when I let go (being flustered and all…) so I fell on the floor cutting my arm on a piece of metal on the wall in the process… As you can imagine this made quite a bit of noise and I swear the sales assistant thought we were up to no good in that cubicle. The wife never did buy that bra….

    Next time Im gonna try that ‘It not you , its me…’ and see how that goes

    • I’ve never had a problem in a public bathroom, although I usually keep my eyes down, hurry to a stall and exit as quickly as possible.

      I just try to be as kind as possible when someone makes a mistake regarding my gender. They didn’t know and made an honest mistake. Sometimes it’s confusing to me, too, this whole gender thing, so who am I to point fingers?

      • You have a very positive and kind approach – I think you’re just nicer than we are ! some people do make honest mistakes, some people just aren’t looking and paying attention – either way for me it no longer really matters but I have to say I like gender neutral restrooms, starbucks is one my favourites – no odd looks and no issues because its one toilet for all!

      • Hmm, I don’t know that I’m THAT nice. My kids would probably tell you differently. Especially when I’m assigning chores. I guess I’m a believer in a gentle approach whenever possible.

  7. It used to happen to me too, and I still get, “Yes, sir,” and a “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say that…” Good ol’ gender presentation. Good post.

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