Today at work a small child asked me: “Are you a boy?”
I’m writing this post because I’m not sure how I feel about what happened. When they asked, I felt the biggest burst of anxiety I think I’ve ever experienced. I answered with a very squeaky “yep” and walked to another section of the store as fast as possible. I started to feel a little teary and I wanted to escape to the stock room. My heart felt like it jumped into my throat. I’m going to use this post to write down all my mixed feelings about being asked this question.
It made me feel very insecure. Why would they have asked me that if I didn’t clearly look like a boy already? I started to feel as though I don’t pass as anything other than female (a common thought of mine, unfortunately); which I don’t want. At all. But then I started to think about the fact that maybe I should be happy about it. At least they didn’t ask me “Are you a girl?” because that would have made me feel worse.
At first I was offended that they asked me; and that their mother didn’t say anything to them. On the other hand, though, if their mother had pulled them away and said “you shouldn’t ask people that, it’s rude” I would have thought that it was fine, that it was necessary. When this child grows up, maybe they’ll have trans friends. Or maybe they will discover that their gender is not was they were previously taught to believe- then, of course, they’ll want to be respectful and ask about their friends’ pronouns. Why would I want to encourage this mother to teach her child that it’s rude to ask someone a question like that?
I don’t understand why it had such a bad impact on me. When people my age ask me what pronouns they should use, I experience some discomfort, sure, but never to the degree that this child caused me. What is it about small children that can knock my confidence levels down so much? I wish I could have taken the time to confidently say “yes, I am. Thank you” or “No, but I’m not a girl either.” I wish it could have happened outside of work, where I could have sat down with them and explained it, because I believe it’s important for children to learn these things.
I’m not sure how I feel about what happened. I don’t know if I should feel good or bad, happy or upset. But I do know that I feel insecure, and that I’m sure I shouldn’t feel this way, but alas.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and listen to me rant about the weird feelings I experienced because of this.