“Excuse me. Is your baby a boy or a girl?”
Despite having prepared for this for nine months, it came as a shock. My child was being gendered–and by a cis-hetero white male.
I collected myself, realizing we could be in danger. Cradling ____ protectively in my arms I turned away from the assailant’s penetrating gaze.
“Ze hasn’t assigned zirself a gender.”
He stared, confused. So confident in his privilege that he’d never been challenged before when engaging in gender-aggression; he didn’t even know how to recognize it.
“Well,” he said after a pause, “ze sure is cute.”
Rage and terror vied in my breast.
“That’s look-ist.” I could barely get out the words. Again, the look of confusion, again the confident privilege unable to navigate a world in which white cis-hetero normativity is not centralized. And again the pause, as he formulated a new line of assault.
“What bright eyes! Looks like a smart little critter!”
The elevator doors opened, finally. He looked at me, expectantly, concealing his privileged aggression under that smug mask of goodwill. I stepped out and turned, not knowing what I would say but knowing I had to say something.
“Well, ze has shown signs of giftedness…”