Very strange. I was on the train to London. Across the aisle, a bunch of less than couth northerners quite blntly discussing Thailand, ladyboys and sex change. And it had nothing whatosever to do with me.
At least, not as far as i could tell.
I read body language well. Its one reason i never wear a watch: because however careully, cautiously someone – interviewer, partner or even prospective partner – tries not to, there will come a point when they sneak a peek at their watch. Sometimes its a head turn: somtimes subtler…no more than a downward flick of the eyes. At which point you feel (I feel) ever so slightly put down.
That single glance tells, even if they didn’t quite mean to, that you are no longer interesting enough to hold their attention. Its time for them to move on.
And its much the same with “being read”. Sure, there are the gross giveaways: the not-so-subtle whispered comment to a friend; the out-and-out misgendering. But there are other ways: the hello, eyes lock, look away, then flick back again as they think you haven’t noticed. Or – yes again! – the raised eyebrow, literally or otherwise, to a friend.
(Did i also mention, that long ago, during my misbegotten self-employed youth, living in Bath, that i used to supplement my income by playing cards wih unwary tourists? Poker, brag, mostly. But honestly: what did they expect, walking in on an established card school in one of that city’s dingier drinking holes, and imagining that they could outsmart a bunch of locals who played for serious money on a daily basis?)
But back to my train journey and not being read. It is, of course, always possible that i was. Ultimately, arrogant to imagine i can know with perfect precision.
Stll, taking everything together: the overall lack of artifice; the absence of a single “tell”. Not a glance or a comment in my direction.
No. The conversation arose because the woman sat opposite me was watching the latest episode of the “Hangover” franchise on her pc, and that film includes a fairly clichéd bit of business with a Thai “ladyboy”.
No hostility. My inadvertent companions were first amused by the scene – and then diverged off into a short conversation about not getting it, but it being everyone’s right to be themselves. Wow! How wonderful.
And definitely strange. Though daily less so. Because more and more i am having to get used to the idea that I pass. Not always. Not everywhere. But often.
So much so that i can now sit next to a conversation about trans
and have nothing to do with it. I can’t be lone in this: for an instant the impulse to stick my hand up and say “hey…i know about this stuff”.
We pulled into KX. My fellow travellers vanished on their way without a backward glance.
I shrugged – and got on with my life.