As a butch lesbian drag king I often find myself pushing gender boundaries. What ends up happening is that I dress in a certain way and forget that it will push people’s personal boundaries. This past weekend I was scheduled for a drag fundraiser in which we wash cars in drag and the money is given to a charity. The charity this year was for breast cancer. I decided to allow my breasts to be unbound for several reasons such as getting wet with the binder on could be very uncomfortable, binding breasts could be bad for breasts, and showing them off seemed ideal since it was all about boobies! Also its summer and wearing a tank top simply makes sense but it also makes cleavage.
Normally I don’t think about what bra I am wearing but this time I was sure to have one that cupped my breasts in a way that would make me a version of the bearded lady. Typically bearded ladies are men, wearing women’s clothes, with a beard. There are also female bodied people that have enough facial hair to be considered a bearded lady but rarely do you meet one willing to leave it on her face, in the fear of being made fun of. Interestingly even its natural, women are typically incredibly embaressed if they grow facial hair and usually go to extremes to remove it. There are tons of services, chemicals and other methods of removing hair.
On the way to the car wash I stopped at the local starbucks for a caffienated boost before headed out to help at the car wash. I didn’t really think about how I would be viewed until my wife mentioned it on the way into the store. I said, “Well maybe no one will even notice.” I was very wrong! Two men sat at a table and as soon as I walked in the door I noticed one of them look at my breasts and then my beard. He got a confused look on his face and then whispered to his friend. As soon as I was in view of his friend they began to laugh, whisper, and point. It was so funny to them that they had to leave the building to compose themselves. I laughed the entire time. Then I noticed others in the Starbucks trying to look at me without being as obvious as the two young men that just left. I appreciate their discretion but at the same time its really not THAT big of a deal. Had I not had a beard, no one would have given me more than two glances. I realize that this area, Central PA, is very conservative but really the beard wasn’t that magnificient and neither is my cleavage. Then I noticed the employees were embaressed by me so much so they wouldn’t look at me. They held their heads down and didn’t greet me even though they KNEW me as a regular customer. At this point I was trying very hard not to laugh, and not doing well to succeed at it. Interestingly, even the transwoman barista was uncomfortable with me and wouldn’t LOOK at me when normally she is happy to greet me. Seriously of all people to treat me that way I was suprised to see her reaction. After being stared at, laughed at, pointed at, whispered about, and got the strangest looks I finally got my drink.
We decided to sit outside because frankly my mere presence had silenced the store and made everyone in it squirm in their own skin. Although It was amusing it was also uuncomfortable for me, but only because my simple presence was making everyone uncomfortable. We sat out front and enjoyed our drinks and again I was disturbing the peaceful movement outside the store. The FedEx driver almost crashed as she stared at me from her truck. A couple of guys that I actually was worried about their demeanor had to drive the wrong way to get a good look at me. I said to my wife as they stared at me, “Those are the kind of guys I would be concerned would rape or attack me under the influence of alcohol.” Shame I have to be concerned for my safety because I simply had a beard and cleavage. Its sad that this is just too much for the average person, at least in Central PA.
In a conversation with my fellow gender benders at the car wash I realized that drag queens also have a similar response in a store and do sometimes worry about their safety as well. They say its best to have at least someone with you if you are traveling “in face” because alone puts you at risk of an attack. AN ATTACK!! REALLY!!?? Why the hell should we be concerned for our safety, simply because we are not following societies gender roles. You cannot expect everyone to do what YOU want to do! I am not hurting anyone by wearing a beard and allowing my breasts to show cleavage, in fact I was simply taking care of myself! I cannot believe that the human race cannot evolve enough to allow for people to express themselves freely!! The reason I laughed while in Starbucks was just how ridiculous it really was. Really their discomfort is uncalled for and frankly rather small thinking. They were showing their own judgement of others and showing just how ridiculous the social construct is. I was dressed normally I just had a little beard. REALLY! Its not that big of a deal it took me about 20 minutes to apply the little goatie. I don’t think I was the ridiculous one, I think THEY were! ASSUMPTIONS, JUDGEMENT, and a lack of thought about the gender construct they were supporting by laughing at me. It was obvious the beard was on purpose, but I guess that didn’t occur to them. I still just don’t understand why MY BEARD and BREASTS make SOMEONE ELSE uncomfortable. Think about that!!