Let me just start by saying this:
That's my brother Eric and me. And our beloved family dog, Bodhi.
And now we can rewind to my junior year in high school when I was gradually switching from nondescript frilly tank tops and long hair in buns to over-sized shorts and (the unfortunately named) wife beaters. I asked my friends if I should cut my hair and they all said No. But I cut it anyways down to my chin and it looked like a poofy triangle. I cut off the bottom parts of the triangle and it became a top-heavy poof sitting on head. Finally I took some clippers and the hair and poof was gone.
My parents saw my aesthetic changes and probably knew what was happening better than I did. But I never really wondered what my younger brother thought until I came home on spring break from my first year in college. My parents showed me an essay my brother had written about me for school. It talked about how I defied socialized gender and sexuality norms and bucked the mainstream ideals in favor of a unique identity -- but in 13 year-old words: "My sister doesn't care what people think about her and I'm proud of her for that." I appreciated his pride, but believed I didn't deserve it. I was just trying to fit in with the queers I knew and was willing to take the shit that went along with that preference.
Despite the fact that he wasn't the one who had made any decisions, my brother has to deal with people's perceptions and reactions to me. Eventually he probably got sick of being made fun of for something he didn't have any control over and developed less pride and more frustration. I don't know if he still does this, but one time he told me that he would carry around a picture of us and show it to his friends and ask them if they could figure out which one was him. I know I should be super offended by this (and I am to some degree), but I'm also just happy that he brings me up to his friends.
Before my parents moved away from my childhood home, I would go visit and run into my old neighbors who would shout to me from across the street: "Hi, Eric!" I would wave back enthusiastically, not wanting them to think my brother was rude.
(HEY. This blog post was kind of a downer, hasn't anyone been mistaken for a dude in a funny way recently? Please submit before I make everyone depressed.)