Passive drinking? Well, you know what passive smoking is, yes? Same kind of thing – it’s when it’s not you doing the drinking, but someone else doing it near you is bad for your health.
Blame chocolate if you like. I went out to get some. I came back home feeling chirpy (I’d had a good day). Home is a flat above a pub.
So I was walking back in (my front door is actually inside the pub) through the beer patio at the front of the pub, when I got accosted by a drunk middle-aged woman, who said to me “Excuse me, but are you a man or a woman?”
I gave her my stock reply, which is “Why are you asking me that?” (because if they can ask, so can I). She gestured vaguely to the crowd on the patio and said “Because everybody’s wondering.” I said “Really?” and then she went on, saying “Well, obviously you’re a man…” in a not very nice tone of voice, which suggested insults were queuing up in her mind – so I smiled and walked away. Got myself back into my flat, and freaked out in safety.
It’s taken me a while to calm down – she set off my PTSD Inner Meerkat – especially when she gave me the impression this whole crowd was behind her (which I doubt). It was like being in the school playground. Brrrr.
I scare very easily around drunk people (and yes, I’m aware now of the daftness of living above a pub, I’m doing something about that soon). Drunk people are unpredictable, often violent or rude (usually thoughtless rather than deliberately cruel), they push my buttons easily. I guess on reflection her “Well, you’re obviously a man” was mostly a response to my voice.
If she’d been sober, I might have tried to have a conversation about my transition, if she’d been polite. If she’d been sober, she might have been polite enough not to ask me in the first place. But I felt under no obligation to answer under her terms. Okay, I’m pretty freaked out and angry still – but I’m also pleased that I stepped away without feeling like I had to play her game.
I’m also perversely pleased if a bunch of drunk people outside a pub are not sure whether I’m male of female – progress!!! 😀
This is only the second time I’ve had to deal with rudeness like this – and both incidents have involved me having to talk to the beer, not the person. I really don’t like what alcohol does to people (me included).
It intrigues me that people “have to know” about my gender. It intrigues me and pisses me off that people feel they have a right to ask questions this personal of a complete stranger. I can probably expect more of this in the future – which is why I have to make sure I spend adequate time around sober, friendly people, to remind me they exist too. I don’t want to feed my fear, and I don’t want to get into the habit of expecting people to be malign when most of them aren’t.
I don’t deserve this hangover from someone else’s drinking, though. My cure of choice is Steve Reich’s Music For 18 Musicians – oh, and the chocolate redeemed itself too :).