warning: gender is an odd thing. if you don't think so and you don't like people who think so, please move along now. find something else, because this isn't for you. please leave me a review, even if you don't agree with me. thanks.

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"hi, i'm trevor." i held out my hand.

"lucy." she took it with a smile. "can i ask you a question trevor?" she looked at me inquisitively.

"um sure." i was sure this couldn't be good.

"are you a boy or a girl?" the words dropped innocently enough off her tongue.

the anger caught me by surprise. this was a dinner party! what business was it of her's whether i stood up to pee? i controled my voice and my temper though as i answered. lord knows i had answered this particular question before.

"gee, it sure is nice to meet you too lucy. i'm impressed with your frank attitude, most adults have too much tact to ask such questions. it sure is good to get it out into the open. let me ask you a question. what do women usually wear, to formal dinner parties like this, i mean?"

she appeared, to my pleasure, a bit flustered. "dresses?"

"good, good. and what am i wearing?"

"a suit."

"is it possible that a woman could wear a suit to something like this?"

"uh i guess so?"

"exactly. so, we haven't ruled anything out. we've established that men usually wear suits, but it is acceptable for a woman to wear a suit too? so clothes don't really tell you much about gender, do they?" i waited for her to reply.

"no."

"what would you like to look at next?"

"what do you mean?"

"this is a game lucy. you brought it up, so we'll play, even though i'd rather not. what aspect of my gender presentation would you like to focus on now, since we've established that my wearing a suit is more masculine than feminine, but certainly doesn't rule anything out. we'll keep this easy at first, i know you must be new to this. my name."

"trevor?"

"exactly. quite masculine, wouldn't you say?"

"yes."

"so, i'm wearing masculine clothes, i have a masculine name. yet still, you question my gender. am i a boy or a girl? so there must be something else. and besides, names don't have genders, people do. so we have two masculine indicators. what are some feminine indicators?"

i receive a blank look in reply.

"go on, you won't offend me. this is a game, remember?" i smile coldly at her.

"well, um. you're voice is high."

"very good. ok, so females have higher voices than males. this is biological. what else?" if i wanted to, i could list out for her my feminine qualities. sometimes when i dress, i'm overly conscious of them. my small hands and wrists. my short stature. my not-so-prominent brow. my breasts, bound now. sometimes when i'm nervous i feel myself trying to hard, somehow. exaggerating, trying to make myself larger. my voice, which she said.

"i don't know what else."

"there are more clues. gender clues. you pick them up without even realizing. what's your verdict? am i a boy or a girl?"

"um... i'm sorry." she floundered and i kept silent. "that was a very rude question of me to ask."

i softened my gaze. "i would have chosen a better venue, yes. i would actually never ask a complete or near-complete stranger such an intimate question. i wear my gender in layers, lucy."

"i honestly don't understand, but please don't be offended. i was just trying to make conversation."

"sure. i am sort of offended, but that's all right. you must realize i get this a lot."

"yeah? people ask you whether you're a boy or a girl?"

"sure. don't they ask you?"

"no, never. why would they? they can tell."

"right. long hair, dresses, make-up. all your gender signs match with the presentation you want to make. there isn't any ambiguity. people do ask, but they get their answer so quickly you probably don't even notice them asking. they probably don't even realize they've asked.

with me, it's harder. they have to look. short hair... but look at those feminine hands! he's wearing men's clothes... but he's so short! he's got a man's name... but his voice is so high! and they just can't figure it out. it pisses most of us off, when we don't know the gender of someone, i guess."

"so why don't you make all your... gender signs match?"

"maybe i don't want them to. maybe my gender isn't so simple."

***