Passing as ungendered.

Wells wrote…

I live in the South, where sir and ma’am are used in just about every conversation with strangers – so “correctly” guessing the gender of the person you’re talking to is an integral part of being polite down here. People find it really hard to peg me down, however, and most will switch honorifics at least once when talking to me. I pretty much always get sir first, then ma’am, but today I got ma’am first and then sir. Though I felt bad at how flustered that guy got, I just grinned at him while he tried to work it out. It was just so satisfying to get that kind of external acknowledgment that people see me as more than a woman in men’s clothing – that I am actually passing as ungendered.

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on December 14th, 2009 at 04:00 pm

Category: your voice 4 comments »

4 Responses to “Passing as ungendered.”

  1. pseudonym

    I sort of cringe when people call me sir or ma’am, so it’s cool that you’re in a spot where you can think “yes, I’m right where I should be.”


  2. k

    I like the way you acknowledge the Southern tendency to be polite by using sir or ma’am. I’ve found a lot of people who bristle at it, but it’s part of the culture.

    Though I swear when I’m out with my androgynous lover, ze gets called “sir” (and only sir, never ma’am) more frequently than I get called “ma’am” or my male partner gets called “sir”. I think some people try harder to come up with and use the honorfic when they are less sure.


  3. Zavi

    I totally know what you mean; I think it’s kind of amusing also. I’ve had the same experience in MS (at the most random places, like fast food burger joints), where the conversation starts out “how can I help you, sir” and ends “thank you, ma’am”.


  4. Anonymous

    i think its awesome that you take it all in stride while smiling. i’m from the south as well, and when people have problems gendering me i just go with the flow while being nice. it shows people that just because i do not clearly fit into a strict gender binary (which is the culture down there) it doesn’t mean i am scary or a bad person.


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