So, I’m dredging up an incident that happened several years ago at AwesomeCon DC.
For those who don’t know, AwesomeCon DC is a large scale media con. I’m now a vendor there, but this was before then. In fact, it was almost before AwesomeCon DC was a large scale media con. (The first year was 2,000 people. I’ve been to every year of this con but one, when I was unfortunately cross scheduled).
The Guy in a Dress
I was out on the con floor chatting with somebody who was making an abortive attempt to start a feminist SF fan club in DC (I have no memory of what happened with it) about feminism, fandom, and how sexist Dirk Benedict was being. (I am never, ever going near the man again, yeouch, he doesn’t even hide it).
Somebody came up and, as happens at cons, wormed into the conversation. It’s a con, and we were on the floor.
Said individual was wearing a twirly blue dress, a blonde wig and facial hair. In other words, they were presenting with both masculine and feminine features.
We had a bit of a conversation and then I did what is generally considered polite in such situations. I asked him his pronouns.
He snapped back with “I’m just a cross dresser.”
Yeouch! I extricated myself from the conversation, upset and really not getting why somebody dressing in a gender ambiguous manner would not want me to check.
I Get It Now
It’s taken me until now to finally get it.
He was offended because I was assuming he wasn’t a man because he was wearing a dress.
Which, of course, I wasn’t! I was not assuming gender. But to him that was invalidating his choice as a man who likes wearing dresses.
He had no way of knowing I consider that a perfectly valid and reasonable choice.
Of course, the issue with this is simple:
I’m always going to ask pronouns. (If anyone has any idea on how to ask in a way which makes it clear asking isn’t assuming).
But I’m also thinking that this is why absolutely all of us should be wearing pronoun pins at cons (I found mine! It disappeared, but I found it). All of us. That way the cross dresser can mark his pronouns without looking like he’s trans and everyone gets to be comfortable.
(People who make pronoun pins, side note, please stop putting the trans background on all of them. It’s actually really hard to find them without it. If you aren’t trans…)
I get it now, though. Which probably says I’ve grown up some in these last few years.
Wherever that guy is now…I hope he’s living his best life and has plenty of really cute dresses!