“I really like your scent,” volunteered the woman standing next to me waiting in line at the ATM machine. “May I ask what it is?”
Before I could answer “L’air du Temps,” my mind churned with possible implications. Was she sincere? Or did she suspect something? Her seemingly innocent question simply bait, to catch me, the pretender, the ersatz female, the alien in society’s midst? And my still masculine voice would unmask me?
I smiled, whispered “thank you,” opened my handbag, lifted out the perfume bottle, and smiled again. Show and tell. Or show and not tell.
It’s hard now to really remember, much less communicate, all the little, terror-inducing episodes like this when I first came out as a woman, trying to “pass” and not get “read.” When I did pass, it was exhilarating, the equivalent of getting straight A’s in school, winning the lottery, coming in first in a talent contest, getting the promotion plus huge salary increase, all rolled into one. But the times I failed were worst than F’s; I remember them still as if a recurring nightmare.
Children and drunks: those were the worst. Those are the ones any new Tgirl has to watch out for. They never mince words, never afraid to report, often loudly, what they see — making even the most casual stroll down the street turn into terror. “Look, it’s a man!”