The woman didn’t know who anyone was and the name “Emerald” is pretty gender neutral which, again, didn’t help. Remember in elementary school when there was a girls’ line and a boys’ line?
She made me stand in the boys’ line. It was mortifying. I was so humiliated I couldn’t speak up and say, “I’m a girl!” Every time we changed classes, from period to period, I would get in the boy’s line and everyone would look at me like I was pathetic.
It felt so crappy. Imagine no one being able to recognize what gender you are and not having the courage to say so? Awful.
After recess, I discretely got into the girls’ line. The substitute teacher said, “Boy, what are you doing?” I mumbled, frightened and embarrassed, “I’m a girl.” The teacher’s face completely fell, she looked as humiliated as I was. She just said, “Oh,” while the class grumbled with laughter.
When I was 10, my mom finally stopped shaving my head. The weird thing was that in high school I couldn’t wait to cut my hair short and have been doing it ever since, but that’s probably because it’s pretty clear I am a chick these days.
What I learned more than anything is not only just how much we assume about people’s gender from what they look like, but how important it is to be recognized and accepted for who you are. We’d like girls to have long hair and wear dresses and boys to have short hair and wear pants–but that’s just not everyone’s true nature.
Imagine what it’s like for someone who is transgender? If we stopped trying to put everyone’s identity into a tidy, little box and ask them who they are and who they’d like to be, instead of deciding for ourselves, we might save each other a whole lot discomfort, alienation, and embarrassment.
Has anyone ever thought you were someone you weren’t? Let us know in the comments!