As a Genderqueer, I often wonder just how people are reading me. Sometimes it is clear (e.g. being addressed as sir or miss) while other times I can only guess (based on looks from people and other nonverbal cues.) I have thought that it would be interesting to log how I have been read and see if there is any pattern over time, but it is not very practical on a day-to-day basis.
Somewhat unintentionally, I have been able to gather some long-term data with respect to how people read me. I have been saving my monthly LIRR tickets ever since one was ‘mistakenly’ punched as female and I have accumulated nine years worth tickets. Each ticket indicates for a month how the conductor on the train read me. While not a huge sample set, it is enough to yield some interesting results – allowing me to see, to some small extent, how people’s perception of me has changed over time.
All monthly LIRR tickets have two boxes on them with an ‘M’ and an ‘F’ for male and female. The idea behind it is to help prevent people from sharing tickets. Here is a sample of a monthly ticket:
At the start of the month, the conductor is supposed to punch the ‘M’ or ‘F’ your ticket as appropriate. This is usually a quick, couple second procedure: take the ticket, punch it, hand it back. In my case, however, they are not always sure what to choose, as is evidenced above.
For the first four years, I only saved tickets punched as female (figuring that it was a one off type thing) so I am assuming that any missing tickets were punched as male. There have been a few instances where my ticket was punched one way, only to be changed later on by another conductor. In these cases, I have counted the ticket twice: once as male and once as female as I was read differently each time. There are also several cases where my ticket was never punched at all. I have omitted these from the counts, as I have no way to know how I was read.
Somewhat more interesting are the cases mentioned above where my ticket was punched, but the conductor choose neither ‘M’ nor ‘F’ – choosing instead to bunch it somewhere in the middle. I have categorized these as ‘Not Sure’.
The following table(s) and graph summarize how my tickets have been punched over the past nine years:
The end of 1998 is when my gender issues came to a head. I considered the ‘mispunched’ tickets that year just that. I considered the ‘mispunched’ tickets in 1999 the same as well.
Between the later parts of 1999 through 2001, I started presenting more ‘ambiguously’ at work
During 2002, I was relocated to Manhattan from Jersey City and standard ‘Business attire’ (i.e. a suit and tie) was required.
From 2003 onward, I was back in Jersey City and began presenting as Trans (more androgynous) on a regular (and increasing) basis.
July seems to be the most likely month for me to be read as ‘undecided’.
December seems to be the most likely month for me to be read as ‘female’.
The degree to which I have been read as ‘female’ corresponds to my increasingly Trans presentation since 2003.
None. But I do find it interesting.