mjj (flemmings) wrote,

On being a eunuch

'I think I look like a guy,' I said to one of my friends when I was twenty, with some vague notion of cosplaying one for Hallowe'en. 'No one would ever take you for a guy,' she scoffed. 'Your features are too delicate.' The proper comeback was 'Then I look like a delicate guy', because in fact people started calling me 'sir' not long after. True, they were mostly little old ladies in France who didn't bother looking at me closely. Tall = male to some people. The police in Japan also thought I was a guy, but I figured that was a combination of my height and size, the bike I rode (red), and the time I rode it (after midnight.)

Actually I had two bikes. No one ever stopped me when I was on the bottle green one, but the iridescent red one set off 'probably stolen' alarms in the minds of honest o-mawari-sans. They'd politely pull me over as I swung off Kannana doori onto the Kawagoe Kaidou, pause for a disconcerted moment when they heard my female and distinctly gaijin voice, doggedly continue with a request for the details of when and where I bought my bicycle, which they'd confirm with HQ by walkie-talkie, and finally wish me a good evening and send me on my way. I have met Carrot Ironfoundersson's brother, and he's a slightly tubby Japanese policeman who comes up to my chin.

Equally if I was wearing my winter coat, a practical dark green oiled cotton affair with a lining but no lines to speak of, and a certain pair of pants, also green but, amusingly, the only women's trousers I owned, I'd get snarled at when I went into the women's washroom, or followed about discreetly by an attendant until she was able to get a glimpse of my face. So fine- my body might present as male to some people but the face was still the tipoff.

No more. I get called sir by Mormon pushers looking sincerely straight into my eyes. I get called sir by waitstaff when I'm wearing a dusty-pink top. I get called sir in summer when I'm in hot pink or orange cargo pants, a singlet that indicates the cleavage of my 38D bosom, and a brightly flowered hapi coat over that. I got called 'brother' by the panhandler I gave a loonie to last night in spite of my pink fringed scarf.

Even in my own culture I now present as a middle-aged gay man, and probably nothing short of a skirt will convince people otherwise. (Actually I know what would do it-- colouring my hair. Large shapeless people with grey hair really do come across as unisex. If it doesn't care enough to dye its hair, it must be male.)
Tags: japan, pratchett, rl
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