I think gender stereotyping is the word I’m looking for. I went out en-femme again to my favorite restaurant and then to the market for my shopping. Dinner was amazing this week as I didn’t have even the slightest twinge of nervousness. I walked in, sat down at the bar and J and C started chatting with me, and telling me how good I looked. I had a lovely dinner, feeling very confident and sexy! J even said she felt my mannerisms were much more feminine last night than the previous week and she could see the confidence I put forth. I even went on to strike up a conversation with a patron who came in for take-out. It was all comfortable and natural. Then on to the market…
And here, my gentle readers, I must digress to earlier in the day to make my point. I had gone to the market with my wife near her apartment much earlier in the afternoon. I was dressed in my regular male clothes at the time as my wife is still a bit uncomfortable doing “normal things” while en-femme. As we neared the register, my wife excused herself to the ladies room leaving me to fend through the check-out process. I finished paying, the bagger handed me the cart, and off I went. So how is this different from my experience later that night while shopping as Denise?
It started off fine. I made my way to the deli early enough that I was able to get what I needed, And, similar to last week, the deli person addressed me as ma’am. Even the assistant was chatting with me asking if I had tried one of the flavored turkey offerings. They were both lovely and wished me a good evening. And the rest of the shopping trip was uneventful up until the register process. Last week, still feeling a bit nervous being out at the store for the first time, I opted for the self checkout lane. This time, I went through the lane with an attendant. He was pleasant enough, asking if I found everything ok. He finished my order, bagged it, and placed the items in the cart and here is where things changed. I was asked “Would like some assistance to your car with that”?
I politely declined and said I could manage, but as I walked to the car several thoughts raced through my head. The foremost being: As a man earlier, I wasn’t offered assistance, but en-femme, I was. I was both flattered and taken aback. Flattered that I passed well enough to be thought of as a woman, but then floored to be on the receiving end of a chauvinistic, misogynistic, view that “women need help with bags”. And, I’m a big girl to boot. With heels I’m 6’4″ and close to 250 pounds. Do I even look like I need assistance?
So now I’m very curious how I would be treated in other situations, like at work? Are people’s attitudes so ingrained that if I transitioned fully, would my co-workers begin to defer decisions to male co-workers? I am in a middle management position, I manage several developers, and I’m in a decision-making role at director level but without the title. Would my recommendations then be taken with a grain of salt? Would I become limited by the glass ceiling? Would my male co-workers discount my opinions and recommendations because they see me a female despite 20 years experience in my technical field? It has given me a lot to think about and empathize with women who have been under this mindset for ages.
Ciao my lovelies,