People Call Me "Sir". Except That I Am a Woman

Auriane Alix
Living the “in-between” life
Photo by Ekaterina Kuznetsova on Unsplash

I cut my hair short when I was 8. Ever since I was a child, I have always been described as a tomboy. I’ve always hated all kinds of girly things, choosing toy cars over dolls, sneakers over sandals, and jeans over dresses.

I had the chance of having rather open-minded and accepting parents. However, when I pointed at this very short haircut worn by a young man on the pages of the hairdresser’s catalog, my mother gasped. After hours spent trying to find a compromise, I opted for something a bit shorter than a bob cut, with little spikes held by hair gel in the back. Very 2000'…

Since then, my clothing tastes evolved, my hair got shorter and shorter, and I slowly started being more and more androgynous. Today, I am 22, and about 3 times out of 5, people call me “Mister”.

Living the “in-between” life

Deep down, I know that I am a woman, and there is no way I want to change that. Nevertheless, I enjoy being exactly on the limit between masculinity and feminity. My hair is short, but my face is soft.

Whenever I meet new people, I immediately see the doubt in their eyes. Honestly, I’m playing with the situation. I enjoy creating the question and observing people trying to find the answer. They set out in search of tiny details that could lead them to the response.

However, it can sometimes become a source of stress. Especially when going to gendered places such as public restrooms, changing rooms, or consenting to strip searches, which has to be led by women for women, and men for men. Several times, someone suspiciously called out: “Excuse me, Mister, but here is the women’s restroom”. I would turn around and stand up for myself.

You might think that it’s ok. But in the long run, it’s embarrassing when everyone in the place turns around to look at you, or when women in the changing room cast aggressive looks at you.

During my first year of high school, as I was still a shy baby tomboy, I entered a new school. During the first 2 weeks, everyone thought that I was a boy. Everyone kept using masculine pronouns, even when I spoke with my kind of feminine voice and told them my first name. The situation was extremely awkward. During the first days, I thought that they would soon realize their mistake, and everything would fall into place without me having to do anything. But the situation took root, and telling the truth became even harder. I thought that people would make fun of me, as they often did at this time. Finally, someone I knew from my previous school talked to me in feminine pronouns, and everyone realized their mistake.

Yet there are advantages

The awkwardness of some situations is certainly a drawback. However, one of the main advantages is being able to go into the men’s restroom when the women’s one is crowded.

All kidding aside, it’s also convenient from a safety perspective. It’s easier to walk alone at night. Just putting on my sweater’s hood, sticking my hands in my pockets, and adopting a masculine gait, and I’m all set.

Regarding clothing, no need to limit yourself to half a store anymore. Both women and men sections are open to you, and mixing clothing pieces from both genders can work very well! Even if I tend to stick to the men’s side, because I feel like women’s clothes don’t fit me.

There is nothing I can (and want to) do about my androgyny. It’s the way I am. The only way that feels like me. What needs to change is the society itself, and the way it perceives everyone who is slightly outside the “norm”. Norms are boring. Everyone is different, and it’s what makes humanity so rich.

Some cities and countries are more open-minded, but in France, as soon as your deep self shows on your physical appearance, people stare at you and make comments.

Stop trying to fit people into boxes. Boxes are for chocolates, nothing more.

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