Gendered Assumptions

When you saw me walk into your restaurant

I doubt that th first thing you thought about

was asking me what my preferred pronuns might be

Instead, what I'm sure came to mind was:

"Shaved underarms bu hairy legs

in a tight tank top and ripped skinny jeans?

But they're wearing an earring -

don't only girls wear earrings?

Is an earring in one ear

some new style I missed out on?

Their jaw is really square

but there are incredibly long eyelashes covering

those unforgiving eyes

And I swear that thee isn't one speck of makeup

anywhere near them but explain then

why theirhips are so out of proportion?"


The default is always "sir."


I see the flash of horror on your face

wonderin how you'll mkeit through

a dinner in gender-bent hell

and I only wish

that I could reach you before

you opened your mouth to speak to me -

I want to tell youthat that cliched metaphor

of never judging worn outand drawn out books

by their covers is realty

and I would give anyhing to take the ten-thousand page,

seventeen-year-old and still-in-the-making

paperback of my reality

and bring it down over your head

until you came to understand that

there isn't anything wrong with being confused

but there is something wrong in making assumptions.

Making assumptions about a person

is like making assumptions abbout pickled eggs

and anyone who has eaten them knows

that there is nothing too repulsive about them

and that if you can't understand that sometimes

you need a little pink to brigten up a plate

then you will never understand why there are so many people

that really do enjoy them

and something you will never grasp is that

an assumption towards anyone is like

ripping out the preface of their own ten-thousand page biography

and rewriting the ending

and changing their words

so that you might understand them better

and if you think that that's fair to them,

then I think you need to reevaluate yourself

before you ever make any new friends

who might have to deal with your unethical editing -

and quite frankly, I think you need to reevaluate your career choice

because assumptions can hurt people

and assumptions are how tragedies occur

and assumptions are how trauma can return

and assumptions are the reason you'vejust now managed to humiliate me

in front of my entire family

and now my cousins are laughing

under their breath next to me

and my mother is sighing because she knows

she's told me only a thousand times to just

let my hair grow out and shave my legs already

and stop making myself look

like I'm trying to cause trouble

because no one could ever love me that way

and certainly not my parents.


So the next time you serve me at a restaurant

don't give me that, "Yes, sir...?" crap.

I heard the shaky break in your voice

before you finished the phrase

and I saw the uneasy look and the double take

and I know that you're going to find a way

to pass it off as good humor and somehow

elicit from me the twenty percent that you needed

because when I raised my eyebrows at you,

you couldn't help but wonder,

"Did I get it wrong?"


Do me a favor next time, and just ask me.

Did you ever even consider

how rude it might be to assume from my

flat chest and my short hair and my v-neck

what I might be?

Don't you think that maybe

if I happen to look like this

right now in front of you

that I don't probably already deal with this every day anyway?

I'm used to this -

this is living for me -

using a male name as an alternative

doesn't even begin to faze me anymore

and I can promise you that

if you happen to be absolutely unsure,

it is not that difficult to ask,

"I'm sorry, but do you prefer ma'am, or sir?"



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