I’ve often said that sex is the first thing you notice about someone and the last thing you forget. A few days ago I met someone who confirmed that assertion, but in an unsettling and disheartening way.
She was dressed neither like a man nor like a woman, in a shirt buttoned up to the throat, punctuated by a small bow tie. Her neck was slender and girlish. Her voice too was slender and girlish, sweet, like a bell. Her face was quite pretty, with the girl’s chin, not square like a man’s, but a sort of rounded triangle. She had thin wrists and slender fingers. Her shoulders were narrow and sloped, and though she was thin, her hips were wider than the shoulders, and she had that smoothness about her that even a skinny and unathletic boy does not have.
She had cut her hair short on the sides, but it was still thick on top and combed over to one side. Did you know that a forensic criminologist can tell a man’s hair from a woman’s hair without recourse to DNA? Hers was a woman’s hair. When she wrote out my receipt, she used a woman’s handwriting, such as I’ve known from more than thirty years of grading college exams. She walked like a woman. She carried herself like a woman.