19 March 2012


K.D. Lang. For personal reasons,
I don't care for her. Hence the photo
of her I've chosen to show.

Janet Reno. Once thought to be a lesbian,
now revealed to be a straight man.

Occasionally—very occasionally—I get mistaken for a man. I know women who are far more often mistaken for men, and it seems clear that it's because, well, they look like men.

Ellen DeGeneres. Or a singer in a British boys' band.
(Whoa. Check out Portia's leg there.)

I, on the other hand, do not look like a man. I have feminine facial features. I've worn my hair long and in an obviously feminine style. Yet it happens: I once stepped up to a store counter and the clerk had his head down slightly, looking at something. I had long, curly hair and I was wearing a summer dress. The clerk said, "I'll be right with you, sir." Did I mention that I was pregnant? A friend with me at the time suggested, between giggles, that maybe I "present male." It's an interesting idea.

Most of the incidents have been banal, like that one. But on two occasions, the circumstances were hilarious—and coincidentally both occured in Big Sur.

In the first one I was dressed in cargo shorts, boots, and a thin A-shirt. I was walking through the Sequoias in a line of 6–8 women. We passed a woman and man with a little boy who must have been about five. Just after they passed me, his little-boy soprano voice piped up:

That guy was a lady!  I know 'cause I saw his boobies!

Second time, I'm hiking with my college friend, Kevin. We stop at a restroom, him in front of me turning right to go to the men's room, and I turning left into the women's room. Next I hear two elderly ladies, in a palaver, talking and laughing in high voices. It seems they saw me as a man turning one way, and they automatically went the other way to that door. Where they came upon Kevin, already busy at the urinal. I went out to see what all the fuss was about and one of the women exclaimed, 

Oh, my!  We thought this young lady was a fella!

Senior prom. 
Wear this now, and you'll find 
yourself in a CNN headline.

Now, I contend that I do not look like a man even when I'm wearing a full-dress tuxedo with tails and bowtie, as here. Er, I'm on the right. Tell me you knew that.


  1. I was driving down a street in St Joe Mo once and some children in the back of the car ahead of me were looking at me intently. I was sporting a mullet back then that went to my shoulders in the back. From one of the children I could read her lips and from her gestures that I was female because of my earrings, the smallest hoops I could find at the time, about an inch in diameter.

  2. Oh, and I totally got that you were on the right!

    1. Oh, good. The "beard" I went with is not nearly so handsome as me!