Sir? Ma’am?

SeleenaK_8091sFBA recent comment from a friend got me thinking.  I know .. I shouldn’t do that.

She was bewildered about how she’s treated when visiting a particular city.  You know, the “sinful” city in the US desert southwest. I’ll paraphrase her comment.  “I get all dressed up, makeup, hair and they refer to me as “sir”.  Back home, I do much less appearance prep and am most often referred to as “ma’am”.

I’ll separate out the part of her comment that related to “dignity and respect” because I find that particularly troublesome, and will address it later.

But for now, I think most of you would agree that gender perception is a basic human function and doesn’t change when entering a particular city limits.  Yes, some people will “make” us and will address us as the ‘wrong’ gender to be insulting or to show disapproval but, for the most part, I don’t think people put that much effort into a casual, public encounter.

I wanted to tell her to just look in the mirror.  When moving outside our normal circle, it’s not uncommon that we do things differently.  Behavior and appearance often change to suit what we determine are the circumstances.   Look .. in .. the .. mirror.  It’s all there.

But what do I know?  I learn by observation and work hard to be addressed as the gender I appear but have no delusions that I’m fooling anyone, and am okay with being referred to by the wrong pronoun.  And frankly, being “ma’am’d” when I’m in guy mode would just never happen  to me.

And to her comment that being called “sir” failed to treat her with  “dignity and respect”, this attitude, in a nutshell, it’s why we continue to struggle for acceptance.  We need to “get real” if we expect others to take us seriously.

People are visual creatures but their abilities are not so well honed that they can see the gender we feel in our hearts.   For that, we need to provide some solid visual clues.  And accept responsibility when we fail to do that.

3 thoughts on “Sir? Ma’am?”

  1. I think the mirror really is the secret here. We like to feel feminine and most times try to act so but the simple fact is that unless we’ve been genetically gifted with soft, naturally feminine features the chances are that we’ll not be the only one who knows what lies beneath the makeup and stunning BooHoo Macy Off the Shoulder Split Hem Maxi Dress.

    When it comes to being addressed in public I agree that it’s nice to be referred to with a term that relates to our gender presentation but I place more value in how it is said rather than what is said. I’ve been referred to as ma’am a couple of times (even ‘darling’ and ‘love’) but I am under no illusions that the speakers thought I was a genetic woman. They were simply being polite and considerate of my presentation, or in the case of the ‘darling’ and ‘love’ comments, trying to establish a rapport that would entice me to buy things. It was the thought that counted.

    Sometimes just smiling and accepting that we’ve been politely addressed is enough. Why stress over what term was used?

  2. I kind of agree with Jane. In my experience, which is admittedly limited, there are no illusions about what genetic traits I was born with! Although I strive for a wonderful female persona….I know that I appear as a man in a dress….or at best an androgynous being…….
    I guess I am grateful when others are kind to me at all when I am en femme. I realize that may sound as if I am reaching too low in my expectations… but the truth is…if I sometimes refer to an acquaintance as him when I mean her…..couldn’t others be forgiven for their temporary confusion? After all, there are no rule or guide books for meeting a cross dressing person, of any gender. I am inclined to believe that a positive, forgiving approach will do more in the long run for knowing me as a kind person……….en femme or otherwise…..

  3. I agree with you both. And as Jane mentioned, it really is nice to be referred to in the gender which we are presenting. But if we feel the need to analyze the times when it doesn’t happen, an objective look in the mirror is a great place to start.

    Dea, we’ve met in person and I think you present much better than you think you do. And Jane, although we’ve never met in person, I suspect the same is true with you.

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