Appearances can be deceptive

Twice in the last fortnight I’ve been mistaken for a man. This is because I generally wear trousers, trainers and have short hair. Maybe also because I have tattoos, and work as a mechanic in a bike shop. It seems these things in combination make some people of a certain age tick the ‘man’ box in their heads automatically. I laughed it off at the time but I’ve been thinking a lot about it since. It’s not very nice being told you look like a man, especially as that’s very often used as an insult (even though in these two cases it was a genuine mistake), and it’s seen as one of the worst insults you can use to a woman, too. It carries all sorts of unpleasant undertones. You look like a man = no-one will find you attractive. You’re not attractive = you’re rubbish at being a woman because it is a woman’s job to be attractive to men at all times. Being told you look like a man is being told you’ve failed.

I don’t really want this to keep happening. It makes me feel pretty crappy. The obvious solution would be to grow my hair, wear makeup on a daily basis, wear a skirt, wear ‘girly’ shoes. Shout ‘I am female’ visually so that people know which pronoun to use for me. But I like my hair short. It’s easy to look after. When I wear makeup too often I get an allergic reaction and my eyelids hurt. Skirts, ballet pumps or high heels are all really impractical attire for fixing bikes in (or for that matter running around after three kids in). It’s alright for a special occasion, all of that, but it doesn’t fit my daily life. Do I really want to make my life more irritating in all those ways just so some people won’t put their foot in it? Am I only really female if I take on the trappings that society has decided make me female? Do the ovaries and the childbirth and the periods count for nothing? I don’t want to give in to this crap. But not giving in to it’s hard. Even if I did give in to it I’d probably still feel I wasn’t any good at it, because that’s the message we get blared at us from advertising. You need to buy all this stuff, or there’s a danger you won’t look enough like a woman, you know. Make your facial/leg hair disappear convincingly with our razors/cream! No-one will think you’re a man! Make your hair look really female with this conditioner/these straighteners/this hairspray! No-one will think you’re a man! Buy this mascara and it’ll make your eyelashes acceptably feminine, so no-one will think you’re a man!

Well, I’ve spent most of my life not giving a toss for society’s rules for womanhood, so I expect I’ll get over the ignominy of pensioners referring to me as ‘the boy’ by accident. It would still be nice if people thought a bit harder before they opened their mouths sometimes though. If you’re not 100% sure, there’s ways to get round it rather than just taking a stab based on prejudices.


About furcoatnaenicks

Rants. Sporadically.
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5 Responses to Appearances can be deceptive

  1. angelofthenorth says:

    They’re pensioners. They probably can’t see that good.
    I been asked if I’m pregnant – not just fat. Same category!

  2. Not gonna lie, I’m pretty jealous of this, actually. I, myself, am transgender AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) and while I don’t identify specifically as male, I’ve found androgyny is ridiculously difficult for me to achieve, despite not wearing makeup, shaving, keeping short hair and wearing “men’s” clothes >.<' but I can tell you things that could help you to look more female naturally if you're tired of being misgendered.

    Fenugreek is a super awesome medicinal herb that is good for everyone ever, but more than that, it's a "feminine" herb (a phytoestrogen) which can be used in teas. It's good for skin softening and other such things and also good for menstrual pains, breast enlargement, it treats hormonal disorders, lowers blood pressure and all kinds of good stuff. Blue Cohosh might be a good one to look into as well – both are good for menstrual regulation and cramps but neither should be used during pregnancy unless you need something to induce labor or are looking for a natural abortion.

    All that said, I'm not an herbalist or medical professional, this is just research I've done for the benefit of my partner's transition and my own curiosity, but if you're looking for a natural way to be gendered as female without having to give in to society's bullshit, these and a whole bunch of similar herbs are good for the subtle physical things you don't think matter but do in terms of gender presentation.

  3. alisonsye says:

    Great post. I get this sometimes too.

  4. Paprika says:

    They must be half blind, then – you look very feminine to me.

  5. Dale F says:

    One of my friends works as a ranger for the MoD, she drives about the army ranges all day in a land rover, goretex kecks, boots, carrying a chainsaw and gets called a dyke, chick with a dick, slut (??!?), and all kinds of other shit.

    Yet when she changes out of her work gear and into her going out clobber the dyke becomes a babe, a fox, and someone who they’d like to have a ‘go on’.

    Personally I prefer it when she’s covered in clarts and smells of 2 stroke. Far more attractive 😀

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