One of the questions that’s come up for me as I start to express in a more feminine way—meaning I now unabashedly wear capris, style my long hair a bit differently, shave almost anything a razor can reach, and sometimes wear feminine tops—I’ve wondered how I would be perceived.

I’m not actively looking to date—hi honey!—but from a social perspective, I’m very interested in how people I might find attractive see me. How will women see me?

What didn’t occur to me is how men might see me as well. Wait, that’s not true: my concern has been how men might see me before harassment and assault gets going. I’ve learned to love indifference.

When I went out the other night after commencement, though, a friend of mine there told me that her friend got excited. And that she had to let him down gently, that I’m straight. I hadn’t thought that my expression might also be seen as an expression of sexual orientation. My mind has had it that it’s mostly social conservatives who would fall into that trap, as they think sexual orientation and gender identity are the same thing. But I didn’t figure that someone incompatible with my orientation would be interested in me.

I hate that.

No, not the fact that a man found me attractive. I hate disappointing people. I hate being in the position to dash someone’s hopes. There’s a guilt that comes along with that, one that I don’t like.

Hopefully he finds someone else more compatible in the near future.

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