Awkward Conversation

So, after I finished lunch, I had half an hour or so to kill before my next class. Instead of pulling out a book to read as I usually do, I ended up just staring off into space and daydreaming.

Anyway, a guy approached me while I appeared to not be doing anything I would mind having interrupted (I would have minded, actually, except that I’ve been thinking that I really ought to try to make some friends who are nerds–none of my friends here are nerds, and I’ve never had this much trouble getting people to play video games with me). He mentioned something about having talked to me before. I didn’t remember him in the least, but apparently I told him my major, and given how much effort I devote to remembering people after chance encounters (that is to say, none), I’m sure he must have been right about us having met before.

It occurred to me that he might be hitting on me, except that I pass as a guy most of the time now, and oh shit, did he just call me a beautiful woman and ask me if I have a boyfriend? Apparently I didn’t pass that well whenever it was we met before. Anyway, I told him straight up that I was not looking for a boyfriend. He asked something about whether I might be looking for a boyfriend in the future, so I decided to tell him I was asexual, which he seemed to understand with very little explanation on my part, saying things like “so that means you aren’t physically attracted to anyone?”. Right in one.

I was also trying to figure out how to deal with the awkwardness of him thinking I am female. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little afraid. Telling someone you just met who has just indicated that they are attracted to you that you are trans, and not the gender they think you are is a bit different than telling casual acquaintances that you prefer a different set of pronouns than they have been using. One has a much greater potential to offend homophobic straight people than the other. Although, a homophobic and/or transphobic straight person would also be fairly likely to decide that I am “really female” and hence their attraction to me does not call their sexual orientation into question. Still. Awkward.

Anyway. I did tell him I might be interested in being friends, and we talked about nerdy stuff like comic books. I’m still not entirely certain that it’s not one of those things where a guy thinks “let’s be friends” means “while my lips are saying no, you might have a chance if you play your cards right”. I was about as straight forward as I could figure out how to be about not wanting a boyfriend, though. If he is interested only in a romantic and/or sexual relationship, then I would be wasting his time if I were not straightforward about my complete lack of interest in such things. Conversely, I am only interested in friendship, and if he is not interested in friendship and does not say so, then he is wasting my time.

But… if we are possibly going to be friends, there is the whole question of how he is going to react when he finds out I am a trans guy. If he reacts badly, then I’ll know he’s not the sort of person I’d want to be friends with, anyway. But there is that extra weirdness of him being attracted to me while being mistaken about my gender. And by extra weirdness, I mostly mean extra risk, if he turns out to be a homophobic and/or transphobic asshole. I’m not entirely sure how to quantify this sort of risk. I don’t think it’s likely he’d do anything more harmful than, say, verbal harassment in a public place with many witnesses. I know that a homophobic/transphobic guy freaking out when finding out that a woman he is attracted to is trans is a common theme in violence against trans women, but I really don’t know much of anything about typical circumstances in cases of violence against trans men (which is less common). I’m not really sure if I should even be afraid of anything worse than him not being interested in being friends anymore (which, if he weren’t, I wouldn’t be either, so no real loss there).

It would probably help if I had any clue how to detect when a person is flirting with me or not. Or, you know, if I wasn’t so clueless about social interaction in general. Or if I knew anything about this guy other than that he finds me visually appealing and that he likes comic books.

I guess if he talks to me again, it would probably be smart to start off with making sure we’re crystal clear on the complete lack of any chance of us dating. Then perhaps I could test the waters a bit to try to find out if he is homophobic and/or transphobic, possibly starting with a conversation about asexuality, since I have a feeling that he already knew what that was, and, if so, he might also know more than most about other LGBT+ topics.

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