Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Don't ask. Just don't.

I've been a member of a "men with breasts" list for a while.  I joined when I was thinking that it might be nice to join those ranks.  I'm still uncertain, but that's another post altogether.  Many members talk about how large their breasts are, and how they got them that way.  They also talk about comfort levels at showing them off, wearing bras to hide or expose them as they prefer.

They also mention that "no-one notices."

Yes They Do.

What they don't do is mention it to you.

From an early age, we're told not to stare at the man in the wheelchair/goth girl/guy with colourful tattoos/woman in burqa/man with mohawk/woman with mohawk/etc.  "It's rude," we're told.  And we're certainly discouraged from asking about any differences we notice.

Frankly, I believe that discussing differences is a way of understanding those differences.  But I still Don't Ask.

Everybody's different, everyone reacts differently.  People notice people who don't fit the norm, except when they don't notice.  Many people don't expect to see breasts on a man (for example) but some notice everything.  They look at you, they shake your hand, they make eye contact, they greet you, and say nothing.  To you.  Later, they say to their friend/coworker "did you see the boobs on Fred?"  Their friend may not have noticed.  But they'll notice next time.

And they'll say nothing.

We learned not to talk about differences.
This never happens:

A man is drinking at a bar, and he strikes up a conversation with the guy next to him, who happens to be a pirate.

He says "I hope you don't mind my asking, but I notice you have a peg leg.  May I ask how you lost your leg?"

The pirate says "During a raging storm I was thrown overboard and a shark took off my leg.  I was lucky to be alive."

The man says "wow.  So, what's the story behind the hook?"

The pirate says "we had a fierce battle on deck.  While I was engaged with one man another came up behind me with a scimitar and took my hand clean off."
The man is amazed and says "how about the eye patch?  How did you lose your eye?"
The pirate says "a bird pooped in it."
The man looks surprised and says "how did you lose an eye from bird poop?"
The pirate says "well, it was my first day with the hook."
We don't ask the pirate on the next stool what happened, even if he'd love to talk about it.  Look at it from a child's point of view.  Many people would be happy to enlighten a child as to why they're wearing a turban or sari.  Maybe there's a wondrous story behind the tattoo or a war story behind the wheelchair.

I had a friend who had hair she could sit on.  When I commented on her beautiful hair, she told me that her brother, who died in a car accident a few years earlier, loved her long hair and she promised him she wouldn't cut it.  But a third party would think me rude, even if I said to her "your hair is magnificent!  Why do you let it grow so long?"

I'm not sure I'd like someone to ask me about my tights or ring or bracelet or flowery socks.  I'm on the "don't care" cusp, I think.  But without a story (and I have one for the bracelet that's not really a story), it's hard to get around.  And I think right now I'm comfortable with "I like femme things and I wear them when I have the chance."


  1. Meg -

    At Fantasia Fair, I had a little boy ask me: "Are you a boy or a girl?"

    It's not the adults who will ask the questions, but it will be the children. And in my case, I responded: "What do you think?"

    Life is strange, isn't it?


  2. Sometimes I wonder how much brighter and accepting the world and everyone in it could be if asking others about the things that make them unique was not only acceptable, but expected.

    In that world we wouldn't have to make up a story. We would tell the truth.
    "I like femme things and wear them when I have the chance." is simple and true and perfectly you.

  3. I like the story about the pirate. But yes, you are right, some folks do notice.

    We are lucky at work in that our few female co-workers are lovely people and do their best to be nice to everyone. A little while ago one reappeared from a trip home to Italy with a wonderful haircut - very chic. I have known her for years but always been careful not to creep her out. She is married and nearly as old as me after all! But I was lucky and another lady was in the kitchen at the same time so I grabbed to moment and told her how I loved her new hair, how it really suited her and where did she get it done?
    And she was so pleased - I know her well enough to tell - we had a short conversation about hair and the other lady joined in.
    Take-home: if you can find a moment that is right you can talk about taboo subjects. Sometimes it's the personal touch that really makes a difference.

  4. I present as a guy and do water aerobics at the "Y". I also have 44B boobs. I don't wear a shirt. Most of the women are over 50 and more than a few are overweight.

    I am made to feel welcome and don't feel at all strange there. I guess they notice my boobs at first, but they soon forget about it.

  5. ironically after opening up at a party awhile ago and mentioning that i am transgendered a few of the gals mentioned that they did notice the nail and eyeliner.
    actually it gave me an excuse to open up about being transgendered. but i really have to be in the compelled to dress somewhat mood to chance it.

  6. I am SO going to direct folks to this post who think they are passing because nobody seems to notice or care.

    The other day during a conference call my boss and a colleague for some bizarre reason filled in some idle moments talking about seeing a crossdresser at the store. My boss commented that it's a good thing he's able to control his reactions because it was SO obvious that the person in a dress was a guy. So as far as the CD knew, he passed and my boss didn't know simply because he didn't laugh or make rude remarks.

    I got "ma'am"ed the other day when I was standing in a long line. I was wearing men's clothes (jeans and a sweater and cheap loafers and a heavy winter coat, although I was underdressed as usual with a leotard and tights under the jeans and sweater. As usual, I also had a full beard, no wig, and no makeup either.

    BUT -- it was a gathering for military service people and their families, so I was one of about 2 men in a crowd of 600 with hair long enough to hang in a ponytail. The person coming up behind said "Excuse me, ma'am" and turned six shades of red when I turned around and she saw my beard. Heh.

  7. Tonight, I was out in Annie mode, and stopped at a grocery store for a few items. On the paper goods aisle, I encountered a thirtyish woman and her (est) 7 year old daughter, who walked up, looked up at me, and asked "Are you a guy or a girl?" I was in front of the feminine products section, so I tossed a 4-pack of Kotex in the cart, exhaled, and said "Tonight, I wish I was a guy!" The mom apologized, gave me what I'd best describe as an "I feel your cramps and pain" smile, and dragged her daughter off. The rest of the way home, I kept looking in the mirror to see if my nose was growing longer.


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