Butch breakfast gaffe

BreakfastWe went out for breakfast on Saturday morning.  Me, W and the kids.

W ordered first.  I was seated next to her.

And then the waitress, who appeared to be 20 or so, asked …

wait for it …

“And, for you, sir?”

That’s when the 15-year-old started to give his order.

“I think she means me,” I said.

AwkwardIt was one of those awkward and uncomfortable butch moments.

The waitress apologized.

I didn’t know what to do.

A year ago, I would have left it at that.

Now, I’m a different person. A different butch.

I feel like I have an obligation to say something.  But what?

I’m not a sir.  I’m a woman.  In the future, you might want to refrain from making assumptions about a person’s gender. It makes us both feel awkward.

I don’t know the right answer.  I just know that I felt annoyed yesterday when I was misgendered. Not embarrassed or apologetic like I have in the past, but offended.

* * *

Thoughts?  Should I have said something or just let that “sir” go?  What would you have done?  What would you have said?

* * *

31 responses to “Butch breakfast gaffe

  1. When this happens to me, I sometimes correct them and sometimes I don’t (when it may be to my advantage). There’s no right or wrong answer….

  2. As one who dresses from the men’s section of Carhartt and LL Bean, I get misgendered a lot. I just ignore it and keep on talking. Sometimes they figure it out and they correct themselves, sometimes they look like they’ve just swallowed a bug and most of the time, they never notice. I don’t make a big deal about it unless they are rude or trying to keep me from the women’s restroom or changing area. I got so pissed at a clerk in Walmart that kept telling me to go to the men’s changing area, I actually grabbed my boobs and said I’m a woman you idiot. Still can’t believe I did that…I was very frustrated. My partner almost died laughing. At the end of the day, I figure it’s the price I have to pay to be me, but I’ll gladly pay it because it means I’m true to myself and that is priceless.

  3. I dunno about “should”. It’s such a personal thing, how we react to someone’s assumptions/actions vis-a-vis our gender. Also, the variables and context of the situation matter so much. If ignoring it or otherwise letting it go feels wrong for you, then no one else’s reaction or habit matters. The real question is why it feels wrong or different and what your instincts tell you is right for you.

    Since your reaction this time was irritation and not guilt or shame (yay for progress), maybe examine what’s different about this encounter vs the others where you’ve feel differently.

    No matter what, though, you have the same right as every person to feel valid in their gender and to have and own your feelings when you are misgendered.

    Sorry that happened. It definitely sucks. But good for you in being able to not feel guilty about someone else’s awkwardness in their own mistake. I’m not quite there yet, so much admiration to you, bro! 😎👍👊

    • Great comment. You’re right. There is no cookie-cutter response. It could be dangerous to “out” oneself in certain situations.

      This encounter felt different than others. So that’s what I need to explore. And yeah, it is progress to not turn 50 shades of red because of someone else’s blunder.

  4. This happens to me ALL the time. In fact, despite being told the contrary, my four year old niece is still convinced that I’m her uncle. I think because of her innocence, I usually give the general public a break. I am MOST def a woman and love being such, but in all situations thus far, people haven’t purposefully or maliciously mislabeled me. I usually point out thru a joke that they are wrong and try to make light of the situation and just move on. Those close to me understand my gender identity and as long as others respect it, even if they don’t get it, I’m okay.

    • Good for you. I like your attitude. And great story about your niece.

      Our 15-year-old is still certain the waitress was addressing him. He sees me as a female. I guess it’s all about perception.

      I go through periods where I’m “sir’d” all the time then not so much. Maybe I was looking particularly butch in my cargos and black tee on the morning in question.

    • My nieces used to call my Femme partner “uncle” because I was introduced as “auntie” and they assumed that aunties and uncles came in pairs, and we were obviously a “pair”…it was ubber cute! And we let it be, kids are so innocent, they don’t assign gender to the rules until someone points it out when they are older. Still, they are 21 and call my ex-wife their “uncle” still….they’re awesome.

      • That’s adorable. You’re right, kids don’t see gender — they don’t know all the rules (yet) and don’t really care. I’ve had kids ask me whether I’m a boy or girl, and it doesn’t bother me at all. They are just curious. I always tell them that I am a girl who likes to wear boys’ clothes. clothes.

  5. I sometimes correct them and sometimes not. A lot of the time it depends on my mood, truthfully. I will say that when the person realizes their mistake and is overly apologetic, it makes it even more awkward. Just apologize, move on and we will all get on with our day.
    I guess there really is no right or wrong way to handle this. I think if it offends you, address it politely My typical response when I do feel the need to correct the person? I look at them, smile and just say, “let’s try again, shall we?”

  6. Last week When that happened I just told the waitress that my preferred pronoun was “they” and rolled with it. I’m masculine and Butch looking, I just wish that people would pick up on it and try something other than sir or ma’am because neither fits.

  7. Difficult one for me who would dearly want to be “sir”-ed and get “mam’-ed all the time. Wish there were an unisex form of address that made all happy.

    • Yep. Guess we have to make due with what we have. I don’t like ma’am either. I’d settle for “handsome” or “sexy beast,” but those might not be appropriate for a breakfast setting.

  8. I personally dislike the sir/ma’m thing, but it happens constantly. I am misgendered all the time, especially since top surgery. I’m fine with being “sir’d” and I don’t bother to correct them unless I think it’s being maliciously said. I love being Butch, it’s always an adventure!

  9. I think if it offends you, then correct her. I just go with whatever they see these days but I prefer sir to ma’am and start feeling depressed if I get too many ma’ams in a day or weekend. I don’t think I was called sir once this weekend and I was out a lot at restaurants and it bummed me out.

  10. The Little Butch That Could (TLBTC)

    I think ‘sir’ might be an improvement in my case. I’ve been mistaken as my partner’s son on more than one occasion, most recently at our Canadian citizenship swearing in ceremony.

    • Yikes. I’ve had that happen to me, and it’s really weird. Especially since I am almost 50 and W is three years younger. I think the whole boy/girl thing jams people’s age detectors.

  11. I think it’s our butchly duty to regularly rearrange reality. 🙂

  12. I’m sorry that her mistake upset you.

    I get called “sir,” “miss,” and “ma’am” all the time. And I don’t really care, because unless I tell someone how to refer to me, they are just not going to get it right automatically. I call queers by the wrong pronoun once in a while, but geez I am not perfect and old habits and patterns die hard. As long as someone is being polite, I refuse to bite their heads off because that is not doing the cause any good at all.

    In addition to being addressed as anything/everything, I have the additional joy of seeing people’s faces when I’m with my little daughter and my husband shows up if he’s meeting us somewhere and seeing people start or “wait what?” because they assumed I was a lesbian and this was my adopted/sperm donor kid and now they are seeing this obvious butch giving some hipster guy a kiss on the cheek and holding his hand! But, honestly, how could they know the truth without being told? We’re such an unconventional family even in this feminist enclave and in this liberal state. I cut everyone so much slack. I have such bigger things to worry about.

    And when folks admire my lovely “granddaughter” I just smile kindly and say, “Why thank you! She is a lovely little girl! And what’s even more delightful is that she is my DAUGHTER, not my granddaughter! I am so very, very lucky!” That accepts the compliment and diffuses possible embarrassment on their part. Everyone wins. I had my daughter at 42, for pete’s sake, and was quite gray by the time I was 35, so of course folks are going to think she’s my granddaughter!

    • I agree that saying something out of anger or in a mean way does not advance the cause. There has to be a nice, educating way to say, hey, you might not want to make assumptions. I’m actually a woman. You might embarrass yourself or a customer when you jump to conclusions.

      But good for you for being out and proud with your very in-stereotypical family.

  13. The thing that gets me is the boldness with which people assert another persons gender. It is very easy to be polite without “sir” or “ma’am.”
    I have to say that I mostly always get non-gendered now. I can see the wheels turning while strangers decide what to call me.

    • You must be in that middle place. I seem to go through phases and right now it’s all sir all the time. W thinks it’s because I’m more confident these days.

      And, yeah, the waitress was very sure with her sir. And she called the boys sir, too. Weird word choice.

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