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Assumptions

February 4, 2009

During my childhood, everyone thought I was a straight girl. When I turned 15, I started identifying as a lesbian; most people still believed I was straight unless I was out to them. A year later I started dressing more boyishly, and I was pretty visibly gay. People who know as a girl still assume I’m a lesbian.

Now, most people take me for a cisgender boy when we meet. If we meet in an LGBTQ context, they think I’m a gay male; in straight spaces, I don’t know what sexuality I look like. But whenever people learn I’m trans, they immediately assume I’m heterosexual.

I think it’s funny to be percieved as all sorts of things by different people. It can be exasperating at times: if queer men think I’m straight, I won’t have a chance with them. And it’s weird to discover how heterosexist LGBT people can be. But I guess it’s understandable: after all, I did identify proudly as a lesbian in the past.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 6, 2009 10:49 am

    People make all sorts of assumptions about gender and sexuality, and as gender-variant trans people, it’s something that happens often.

    The most common assumption is of course that everyone is straight and cisgender/cissexual. LGB people make the assumption that people are cissexual very often, LG people assume Bi people are not really Bi, and then there’s all those times when LGB people read someone as straight even if they are 100% gay (for example, it happens to some femme lesbians).

    Myself, I’ve gotten different readings from people.

    A fellow trans girl read me as an FTM trans boy. She said it was because I seemed very confident in my queerness which other trans girls she’d met aren’t.

    A lesbian woman I got chatting to at a party thought I was FTM but was confused until I came out to her.

    Two times I’ve been perceived as a cis girl, once by an old man outside a pub (context: It was summer, I was wearing shorts with shaved legs, dressed kinda dykey and there were lots of lesbians around there as it was the Lesbian Arts Festival). The other time was last week in the airport, where a security officer called me ‘madam’ and I was simply wearing very queer clothes, nothing labelled ‘female’.

    In queer places, I tend to be seen as a gay cis man, which is a bit annoying.

    And one time in Berlin, going into a toilet to, well, vomit out some ill-advised amounts of Vodka, a punk came out and said in a thick german accent “ha ha are you a boy or a girl?” and I just gave him the finger.

    …I guess what I’m trying to say with this is that this has taught me that assumptions are very very tricky. Yes, we need a few little assumptions or first-judgements to interact with new people, and I don’t think that’s the big problem. The issue is when people take that first impression and mark you inedibly with it, as if you cannot be something else and they cannot be mistaken.

    The longer someone has known you of course, the more this will grow in your mind into an idea of who you are that may be erroneous, but that’s now going into another topic :)

  2. genderkid permalink*
    February 6, 2009 11:45 am

    Yeah, I guess people do need to make some assumptions… otherwise, gay people wouldn’t know who to hit on! That doesn’t make it any less annoying, though ¬¬

    Thanks for your stories: it’s nice to know that other people are also seen in crazily different ways. People have thought I was an MtF, too! I’d forgotten all about that.

  3. February 7, 2009 7:20 am

    I get read as a dyke all the time. Funny thing is, even though I always liked girls and boys, I never ever identified as a lesbian. Except for maybe like three seconds where I was like “Woah, I’m super butch so maybe I’m a lesbian?” And then I was like “nah…” Now, I see myself in butch dykes all the time, but I don’t identify as one. But people assume I am one all the time, no matter how butch I’m dressing. I just don’t pass, so I’ve stopped trying. I’m just a fag who happens to look like a girl, and if people don’t get it, well, I tell them what’s up, and if they still don’t get it, I tell them in no uncertain terms that they can suck it. That usually gets peeps to shut up. ;D

  4. genderkid permalink*
    February 7, 2009 1:17 pm

    I think most transmen never identify as lesbians, even straight guys. But it worked for me; more on that in a future post.

    Nice reactions, by the way!

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  1. Being visibly queer « genderkid

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