Outside the Binary: Not Outside of Harassment

I haven’t covered a night shift at the convenience store in over two months, but I’m the kind of person who returns favors. So when one of the guys (who saved my sanity by covering my shifts when I was double booked) needed a favor, I took a night shift. If you’ve ever been up around 2am in a college town, you know the kind of vibe this area can have.

I was relegated to the register, and things were going swimmingly until a group of young adults got upset over being carded for cigarettes (they turned out to be 18 and 19 across the board. So yeah.) They started with claiming I was being picky, then claimed that I should know them as “regulars” and then finally, moved on to other topics. At one point, one of them declared “Do you like girls? I can just tell that about you.” like my shaved head and rainbow bracelet didn’t make my queerness glaring obvious. Now, when customers get upset over being carded, I’ve learned the best way to counteract their rising energy is to meet it with a calm approach. So I answered with a “Sure, dude.” and he proceeded to tell me he could sexually please me and my hypothetical girlfriend.

It was an awkward situation, and up until that point, I hadn’t felt uncomfortable, but this was a little different. He wasn’t threatening me. I would’ve known how to respond to that. He just started assuring me that we could all “have a good time” and it was one of the weirder flirtations I’ve had in my life. Obviously, I shut that down by giving them an ultimatum on the cigarettes (they found their IDs and bought them).

However, it got me to thinking; not identifying as a woman or a lesbian doesn’t exempt me from the same harassment many women face. It’s a weird sense of solidarity that I can completely relate to the experience of being harassed and propositioned, but I don’t identify with the group that this most affects. Is this something other femme-appearing non-binary people feel?

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