The summer I was 8 years old my father took me and my sister to the dump near our cabin to learn how to shoot a rifle. It was only a .22 but I remember the thrill of shooting and hitting the targets he set up. It was sunny and I think we were all in shorts; no eye protection, no hearing protection no safety training except what my grandfather had taught my father. This was one of those moments where I had something passed onto me thought I didn't recognize it at the time. I never really considered learning to shoot a gun from the back of a pick-up a redneck activity until someone I work with (from Toronto) pointed it out. Then I thought.....oh my god. He's totally right.

I mention this because it got me thinking about how we see ourselves and how so often how we think others perceive us is completely off the mark. As a kid I never thought about my culture or income level, or race. I never considered things like politics or religion making me different than anyone else. I suppose as kids our upbringing is normal for each of us and until our view of ourselves is challenged by how we see ourselves through the eyes of others, the little bubble of happiness that is our reality stays in tact.

Being transgendered I am conflicted and confused by how I think people see me and how they actually see me. It's like knowing how all the magic tricks are done...people see what they want and are conditioned to look at specific identification markers to understand what something is. For example, the last few months I have been completely paranoid that my breasts have been making people question my male identity. When I finally told a couple friends that I was going for chest surgery they looked confused and said to me: I thought you already had that done?  Oh Lord. How stupid did I feel worrying about it all that time....

Another misconception that has arisen (which is between you and me and the fencepost) is my sexual orientation. If someone asked me what my preference is, right now I probably couldn't say for sure, but that's a post for another day. I was at a party not that long ago and I was hanging out with some queer friends and a handsome gentleman (a very touchy-feely kind of guy) and I kept getting the straight-guy-stink-eye from an obviously homophobic lunkhead. You all know the kind of guy who is so worried a gay guy might hit on him when we can see from a thousand yards that he's straight and really not anyone's type...you know of that guy. Anyhow it was so strange and suddenly I realized that (for the second time) I was being perceived a a gay man.  Personally this doesn't bother me one bit as I amused to being seen as a butch but it is quite another thing to be seen as a gay man. To say the least I was a little afraid for my safety.

I wonder if the real problem is that I still haven't quite wrapped my head around other people finally acknowledging my male identity or if the girl part of me that is still very much alive is rearing her butch head to say don't forget about me or I'll shoot you right in that stink eye.

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