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Gender, Fat, and Aging

I was 10 the first time I really remember being misgendered. I was by myself at the salon assigned to foreigners in Beijing in 1979, to get my hair cut before going home to Canada for the summer vacation. I was in shorts and a tee shirt, a lanky-long slip of a thing not quite at puberty. As the stylist cut my hair shorter and shorter, and more hair fell down on the floor, my Mandarin fled. When she finally pulled the clippers out, I shrieked, “Wo bu shi baba! No, no, I am not a father!” Soon I had a flutter of platitude-murmuring, middle-aged ladies about me, trying to rectify my gender with kiss curls around my ears and as much height as they could possibly put in my now-shorn hair, while I wept hot tears of shame into my Barbapapa t-shirt.