Stranger:What do you do?
Me:I’m a professor.
Stranger:You’re way too young to be a professor. You look like a student.
I’m in my 30s and I dress more professionally than my colleagues. But I’m also petite and female. My male partner, who has the same age and occupation, is never told that he doesn’t look like a professor. It sends me the message that I’m an imposter, merely play-acting at being a serious scholar or authority figure. Made me feel like no one will take me seriously despite my accomplishments.

“When are you going to have some kids? You know you’re not getting any younger.”  This is what a co-worker said to me after learning that someone we both know is expecting a child. What if I can’t have children? What if I don’t want children? Why don’t people think about that before speaking?


My mom says she is okay with my sexuality but doesn’t want me to tell anyone else in case I change my mind. Age: 16

Living with your parents always presents a raft of problems, which is not made easier when you’re transgendered.  For example, their refusal to use your (now legal) name or (now legal) sex when talking to or about you.  Despite the fact both have been changed for years.

Thanks for helping with my depression, anxiety, and insecurity!  Nice to know I’m supported in the way that least inconveniences you! I shouldn’t complain, though; my sister believes that I’m ‘too young’ to know my own gender and shouldn’t try to transition until she deems me old enough. Makes me feel isolated, and depressed.

An older white man came into my office to meet with the head publisher and was introduced to me, because I’ll probably be helping to edit his book later on. He said. “My, aren’t you pretty?” and then patted me on the head! I know I look younger than 23, but I don’t look 5. This was in a professional office setting! I felt diminished and not taken seriously as an editor.

Would you like a newspaper, young lady?

Newspaper subscription salesman stationed at a store entrance. I am a 31 year-old female. He appeared to be in his 30s or 40s as well. Made me feel like even as an adult woman, I’m not considered a “real” peer by men of a similar age.

But you’re too YOUNG to have arthritis!

Stranger at restaurant, to me, after seeing my hand braces and asking why I had them.

An undergraduate student introduces me (38-year-old white, female tenured professor) to an older white, male professor from another department. The male professor has a shocked look when he learns I am a faculty colleague, and says, “You look like a sophomore!” When I respond only with a raised eyebrow, he says, “It was meant to be a compliment.” Made me feel diminished and not taken seriously as a colleague. 

Are you a child? Because you look like a child and sound like a child.

A drunk man at a friends 21st birthday party. I am 5 feet tall, petite,and have very small breasts and no butt. All my life I have felt less like a ‘real woman’ because of my body type. Made me feel disgusting and worthless.

I am walking down the sidewalk in NYC with cell phone in hand; I look down at a text, and when I look up, there is a white woman stopped front of me. She says “Excuse me?” like I am not fit to exist and I slink around her, mumbling “sorry.” The entire rest of the sidewalk is empty.

I glance back, thinking, why do I have to apologize for taking up even this small space? Why is she entitled to it?” Age 19, NYC, on the sidewalk. Made me feel worthless.

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