Curiosity. Is that person normal? Have they noticed me staring? What are they thinking?
Superiority. Why are they dressed that way? Do they realize that they’re making a fool of themselves? That people aren't supposed to be androgynous? No freak like that can survive in society.
Laughter. Poking fun at me. As if I can't hear or see or understand. But why would I understand? I'm no longer human; I'm merely an it. Their question echoed in my head; "Is it a boy or a girl?" It? Am I an it? Am I a boy or a girl?
"What can I get for you, sir?" the waiter asked. I could feel trouble coming. I ordered. I listened to my voice- my female voice. It is a betrayal to me, a contradiction to my appearance. One word, and people's perceptions of me entirely change. As I spoke, I watched the waiter's response. He looked confused, and then embarrassed. "I'm sorry ma’am...I just... I didn't realize" he spurted out.
I sat there, helpless. "What did you not realize?” I wanted to ask. “Does my feminine voice change completely who I am?" I am now a woman in the waiter's eyes. But, am I a boy or a girl?
It's right before class, and I need to use the restroom. I walk into an empty bathroom, take care of business, and proceed to wash my hands. A girl walks in. Her face makes her emotions entirely visible- she is embarrassed for going into the bathroom with a male. She immediately turns around, opens the door, and looks at the sign.
She looks back and forth between me and the door, baffled. It is as if her looking long enough will change the sign on the door or turn me into a woman. She is convinced there is a man in the women's bathroom. Am I too much of a man to be in a women's space? Am I unwelcome? Am I a boy or a girl?
I am stuck in a society where I am supposed to choose one or the other. But what do I choose? How the couple perceived me? Or the waiter? Or the girl in the bathroom? Or how I was born? Or how I felt yesterday, or feel today, or will feel tomorrow? Am I a man? Am I a woman? Why does it matter?
I am a woman. I am a man. I am both. I am neither.
Jordan Rubenstein is Digital Marketing Executive at UJA-Federation of New York. A nonprofit advocate and freelance writer, Jordan is passionate about social justice and equality. Jordan identifies as queer and genderqueer, and strongly believes in the fluidity of gender and sexuality.