The past week I have been traveling again. First to Switzerland and then to Rome in Italy, both were business trips. Last year I had some bad experiences were I obviously was not passing and got some really bad comments from people. For some reasons these things seem to be more common during spring and summer time so I really hope the experiences over the past week is a precursor of that this year as well.
There were two different kind of situations. The first one was when I together with three older male collegues were visiting Switzerland and one of them several time addressed the Swedish team with expressions like “Hey, boys lets have something to eat” (Grabbar, nu ska vi…). The hard part is that it is from a person that I have worked with for some time and really respects me for my knowledge and experience. So it is not at all meant to disrespect me but said spontaneuosly and almost without even noticing his error himself. I guess it has something to do with the English expressions “Hey, guys…” which can be used for both males and females in some occasions. What really sucks is that when collegues such as him has spent sometime with me there is obviously something about my appearance or voice that makes them not clearly see me as a female. At least not completely. Sure, these kind of comments can happen to genetic females as well but during the trip one of the Swiss officers even said “Let’s have the woman in the middle in the photo…” and he was referring to the other woman in the group. Again clearly spontaneously not thinking of me as a woman. Again not meant to be disrespectful because this was a high-level visit between two countries. Still it happens.
When I think about this I realise that this “Hey, boys…” happens to me at least every months or so at work. Or some other situations were someone starts by saying that, than pauses for quite a while and adds “…and girls…”. It happens in emails were they can start with “Gents, lets have a teleconference….”. It does not hurt the same way as when someone says “he…” maybe because it is an effect of a male-dominated workplace but somehow it adds to put a dent in my self-confidence.
The second situation was the Ergife Palace Hotel in Rome when I went to my room during lunch time and found the cleaning staff working in my room. I was wearing my pink shirt, jeans, Coach sneakers and Coach handbag. I met the young women working there for maybe 10 seconds before they went into the room again. Inside the room I heard them whispering in Italian and I understood that they were discussion whether or not I was a transvestite. I became cold and it felt so unfair. What did I do so wrong that they read my so fast? It is of course an impolite and unprofessional behaviour from hotel staff but that is not the thing. The thing is that it put another dent in the self-esteem saying I am not seen as real woman. Again.
All of this puts my recent issues of feeling very uncomfortable at bars and my feeling of not being able to believe in myself as being attractive in the eyes of lesbian women. I mean what is the chance that I am passing at all? And if I am not, what is the chances that she thinks it is ok even though she reads me as woman with transsexual background.