It is unavoidable. People every now and then use female pronouns when referring to me. "Oh, I'm just getting this for her." "Have a nice day, ma'am." And I know it isn't really their fault-- they looked at my different characteristics, and those read "female". I still have certain feminine facial features and something I guess you couldn't really call stubble. I wear a binder shirt to bind my chest, but it works better some days than others.
Yesterday I woke up and wanted to wear something... nice. So, I put on my Sunday clothes-- button up shirt, tie, slacks. I shaved, gelled my hair up a bit and I didn't pay a lot of attention thinking about it, but I thought I looked rather handsome. When my girlfriend got home, we ran and got a double cheeseburger at Wendy's. When the cashier, obviously new, gave me my food, he got this deer in the headlights look for a second, looked to, where else, my chest, looked up and said, "Have a nice day, ma'am!" I didn't do anything-- turned, and walked away. We got outside, and I don't want to be dramatic or anything, but I cried. Ugh, here I thought I looked masculine, and what did I look like? Did I look like a butch woman, or a woman dressing up as a man? He looked at my chest for an answer, and the painful reality was that my body-- my body that is getting in the way of me living a normal life-- , my body continues to betray me.
What does being misgendered feel like for a trans person? It feels embarrassing, humiliating, and annoying. It feels dangerously naked. Completely vulnerable. It makes you wonder how much you really pass... It felt like I'd made a fool out of myself, and I was absolutely embarrassed. Which we all know is ridiculous. I had nothing to feel embarrassed about, and if anyone had any reason to be embarrassed, it was the cashier. But I went home and changed into a striped polo that's a little bigger on me. Gender dysphoria makes it difficult for me to truly appreciate my wonderful body. There are too many features that are an exquisitely painful reminder that I have to struggle for something that should be simple.
Kellie, my girlfriend, and I went out to eat at a new sushi house last night. A friend of mine works there, and it's open on Sundays, so I thought I'd try it out. It was a pretty routine sushi night. Average waitress, good sushi. This morning, my friend messaged me and we chit chatted, and then she said that she had something awkward to tell me. Our server from last night had kind of freaked out a bit last night because she couldn't tell if I was a guy or a girl, and my "androgyny" had made her uncomfortable. Not that she wasn't sure what to address me by, but this woman thought it was her business to be upset because firstly, she couldn't tell if I was a boy or girl, and so, secondly, she couldn't tell if my relationship was heterosexual or homosexual.
There is a very important difference between what happened at Wendy's, and what happened at the sushi house. Although I think it was inappropriate for the cashier to look at the world's biggest moobs to determine gender, I do think it was a fairly innocent gesture. He's in the service business, and gendered language is often used. "Yes, sir", "Thank you, ma'am". It was very innocent, and I don't really hold him at much fault.
The server at the sushi house, however, completely crossed a boundary. It is none of her business to be annoyed or disgusted because I do not clearly come off to her as male or female, and it is none of her business to be annoyed or disgusted if my relationship is homosexual OR heterosexual. In my opinion, an act like this is ignorant, but not innocent.
If you misgender someone, calmly apologize and repeat the correct, desired pronoun, and then move on. It happens, and it will happen. When I see someone do that, I see that they slipped up, but they're willing to take responsibility and they take effort to treat me with respect. And I appreciate that. It's embarrassing for everyone involved, but I think if you do that, you'll be good most of the time.