“Don't judge a book by its cover.” We’re told this at a younger age. And it probably sounds cliche by now. It’s recently occurred to me that I’m often finding myself in the situation where people are doing just the opposite.
Right now, I have mid-length hair, it was once up to my ears but now it’s closer to the bottom of my neck. And with this shorter hair I wear baggy clothes. They’re dull, generally athletic, and never revealing. I think you get the idea of where this is going, but if it’s not clear here it is: I’m called a boy, and a lot of the time gay. Sometimes I’m called these words because people think it’s funny, but other times I’m called these words because people just can’t tell. They judge the book by its cover if you will.
I’ve learned not to take it personally. Especially when little kids call me a boy. I don’t get irritated by little children when they call me a boy, because depending on their gender, they grow up in bows and dresses, or shorts with cars on their shirts. So, I get it, I’m not wearing pink, nor bows, neither am I wearing cargo shorts or shirts with cars on them. So, I generally just tell them, “Oh I’m a girl” and then their parents apologize to me. Once they apologize, I say, “don’t worry about it, it’s better to hear it from a toddler than an adult.” And to my surprise, they’re surprised. It gets me every time.
But when adults do it, I just about fall off my rocker. Is it not obvious to them that I have the body features of a girl? Just because I don’t wear makeup and my hair isn’t long, it doesn’t mean I’m a boy, or identify as non-binary. But then I must remember, some people are much less observant than they may come off to be. I always politely correct them, but it never changes that feeling in my stomach.
Just to make it clear, I’m not gay. I’m straighter than uncooked angel hair noodles. I’m a girl, came out this way, and last I checked I still am. I'm what's called a tomboy, which means I may dress and practice “male behavior,” whether by being athletic and not afraid to get down and dirty, or by liking the idea of having unclogged pores and money in my pocket, since I don’t spend my time putting makeup on.
During this day and age, we have (in my opinion) over-welcomed the idea that if you dress a certain way or lack a certain feature you must be part of the LGBTQ+ community. And after a lot of backlashes from not welcoming such community, I understand the feeling of “needing” to be more welcoming.
I guess my advice to you is to maybe be a little more observant in times that it isn’t clear. And it never hurts to just ask, so long you're respectful about it. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Savannah Ashley is a local middle schooler who has an enthusiasm for mountain biking, rock climbing, writing, art, science, sports and animals. One day she hopes to be a forensic scientist. She started writing for the local newspaper to spark an interest in the minds of adolescents. She has taken part in 4-H for a total of five years in the past. She knows what loss feels like and she can accept it. You can expect articles that include news and any other information broken down in a way to make parents more comfortable to let their kids read. She hopes for you, and other readers to enjoy what she has to offer, and that you share her articles with those who may be interested. You can contact her at any time with questions or comments at: email@example.com