How To Handle A Read

by Angela Gardner

You've just spent hours shaving, putting on make up and slipping into your nicest conservative daytime outfit. You've primped, plucked and powdered. You top it off with your sexy new lipstick, take a final look in the mirror at the gorgeous, passable woman there and climb into your car. As you drive to your objective for the day, perhaps a trip to a friendly store, a walk through a distant mall or dinner with a friend. You feel confident and feminine. The jangled nerves of getting to the car and out of your neighborhood are beginning to settle down.

Then, as you wait at a red light with your hands on the wheel in your most graceful pose, you hear an ominous sound. A strange cackling and hooting is coming from the car next to your or behind you or across the intersection. Yes... you've just been read.

At this point, most of us are more than a little red at being read. No one likes to feel that she wasted two or three hours of preparation time spent that day, not mention the hours and hours of perfecting her feminine ways in the past years just to be read by the first carload of cretins to drive by. How do you deal with being read? What should you do and what shouldn't you do.

You should try not to hide. Get away from the area certainly, but don't hide. That only draws more attention to yourself. Lying down on the car seat or jumping behind a bush may seem Iike the only thing to do, but it is not something a real woman would do. The act of hiding will only confirm the reader's assessment of your gender. Move away from them with dignity. As for their derision, take it until you can move away.

The words "take it" really sum up what your attitude must be. If a group of immature jerks were laughing and pointing at a woman, she might wonder what they were so excited about, but she would not do anything other than ignore them. There is nothing you can do to convince your tormentors that you are a real woman or that they should pick up a dictionary and learn the meaning of the word "tolerance." If they decide you are a man in drag, all you can do is not react and hope to leave them with some doubts. Try to appear as if you don't know they even exist. Look straight ahead, play with the radio or study your manicure. Don't get aggressive yourself. Don't make obscene gestures or tell them what you think of their manners or parentage. That type of response could make you a candidate for plastic surgery, even if you didn't need it before. Of course, you could adopt a belligerent attitude if you packed a .357 Magnum in your purse, but we get enough bad image stuff from TV-killers in the movies. Besides, it isn't ladylike!

To some, it may sound sexist to insist on your acting passive. Passive worked for Gandhi. Give it a try. Granted, there are women who would not take the kind of harassment you might be subjected to, but one of them is not there to help you out. Violent responses will not help you or change your tormentor's attitude. It's a lot more embarrassing to be in the emergency room of a hospital with a ripped dress, torn stockings and fat lip than it is to take a little abuse while remaining dignified and demure.

What does it mean to be read? Not all reads are as raucous as the example I've just used. Sometimes you will be in a public place and you will see someone's lips move in the "That's a man!" pattern. What do you do about that? Well, you're most likely not facing any physical danger so what's the big deal~ You've just entertained a bored housewife or an accountant whose idea of excitement is a new calculator. Ignore them. Go on about your business and continue to act like a woman. You will stop being a novelty if you just continue to do what you were doing. If they absolutely won't stop staring, try staring back and smiling! Most likely they will turn away and try to ignore you.

If you're going to be read at all, the nicest way is to hear someone whisper, "That's a man?" The question in their voice lets you know that all though they suspect you're not exactly what you appear to be, your beauty and poise have left large doubts in their minds. Of course, any read, even the nicest ones, can be a pain. What should you do afterward? Do you drive home, rip off your wig (if you are wearing one, please check beforehand), wash off your make-up, and vow never to indulge in this humiliating behavior again? Of course not! That impulse, like the urge to hide, will get you nowhere. For every read you detect, there are a few you are not aware of at all. There are also hundreds of people who see you on your public outings and hove no idea that you are anything but what you appear to be. Don't let being read discourage you. No one passes all of the time. As long as we only cross the gender line a few times each month, there will always be something masculine about us that, from the right angle, in the right place, to the wrong person, will give us away.

What's important is your attitude. You have as much right to be where you are, dressed as you choose, as anyone else in the place. Ninety percent of the time, if you look and act relaxed, as- if you belong there, you will pass. don't worry about the other ten percent. As long as people who notice don't think it's their duty to rearrange your body parts, then don't let their attention bother you.

Another component of passing that is hard to gauge is the 'getting away with it' factor. Many members of the general public are perceptive enough to notice that there is something wrong with this picture, but they have manners, breeding, style or they're just too apathetic to care. The point is, don't worry about what they think. Project the image you want to the best of your ability and enjoy yourself. Use discretion about where you go and how you dress. Look appropriate and stay relaxed. It's' up to you to make your outings a fun time that can help you grow personally. Try to remove the anxiety from the experience and enjoy!

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