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,

***

i sat down on my friend's bed and pulled her cat onto my lap. "lisa, when are you going to paint your walls?" i asked, looking around at the chipped old white walls. lisa was on the floor, paging through a magazine.

"what's up with you tonight, lucy, you're so crabby. geez." lisa didn't look up.

was i crabby? maybe. "i met this... person tonight, at that dinner party? you know, the fund-raiser thing? and i think i offended her. i was completely enthralled though, i couldn't stop staring, practically the whole night." i pushed the cat off my lap when he started to knead my thigh with his claws.

"so? she's hot? did you get her number?" page, page, crinkle. julie wasn't looking at me, but i think she was interested.

"i—no. she's a he, i think. he's a he, whatever. his name is trevor." i felt like i was coming out or something. coming out that i liked a guy.

"trevor? trevor trevor? the trevor? the hot one?" lisa finally looked up.

"you know him? he's like, a girl or something? what, a hermaphrodite?"

"no dear, and if we're talking about the same man, watch out. trevor's the handsomest bachelor in town, but he's one bitter motherfucker." lisa seemed to pause before saying something else, and i waited.

"i still haven't figured out if he's a guy or what, but his ex refers to him as one. i guess she would know, right?"

if i had been enthralled before, i was positively smitten now. what in the world was lisa talking about? men who were women but were they really men? can someone just decide one day to be a man? i thought about what trevor had said the other night. gender in layers, dressing to play a part. did i do that?

i thought of something. women loved men, that was traditionally part of being a woman, right? well, what about someone like me, like other lesbians and bi women who loved women? did that make us less womanly? less feminine? was that a layer of gender too, a ... what did she say, gender sign?

i paused and rethought my last sentence. she. i had asked—him—whether he was a boy or a girl, and he had answered me ambiguously. i was frankly fascinated. next time i'll use a better line.