I do actually have a vagina, but no one here in the Territory seems to know that.
Back down south my soft butch identity is well accepted, considered banal even, but here in Darwin practically everyone mistakes me for a 14 year-old boy. Which is fine right up until I have to say something, which is when things get awkward. The daily, humdrum requests I make from “Can I have a flat white please?” to “Could I pay for that on EFTPOS?” is invariably met with the look of mental gears shifting from “Why hasn't this very polite young man's balls dropped yet?” to “wait, what?” and finally,“Oh shit, he's a she!” I know of many theatrical, fabulous people who enjoy shocking others with their appearance, but sadly, I'm not one of them.
So as Emma and I pulled into the Adelaide River Jumping Crocs carpark one Saturday morning, I cursed my tiny bladder for being full again already. We grabbed our tickets for the 11 o'clock cruise, and Emma made for the canteen, on the hunt for something cold.
“I'll meet you over there in a sec. Could you get me a Magnum?” I asked as I slipped off in the direction of the toilets.
I've had a few less than stellar interactions in public toilets around Darwin recently, but mercifully, on this occasion the bathroom was empty. I went to the toilet, experienced a moments sweet relief, and then went to the basin to wash my hands. As I was doing so, a young woman in a flowing batik dress walked in and then right back out again. She returned a couple of seconds later looking confused. She turned to look at the triangular-dress wearing female sign on the door for confirmation that she was the one in the right here.
I pretended not to notice her standing there in the doorway staring at me, and continued to quietly lather. My failure to acknowledge her angered her, and she began to express this by aggressively waggling her hands at me from side to side as if to say,“I don't know what you are or why you're here, but I really wish you weren't.” Since these are some of the very questions that have plagued me over the years, I gave her a wan smile, put my head down, and slipped past her in an attempt to inconvenience her no more.
I met Emma at the canteen and took a seat in an ancient, plastic chair. She passed me a Magnum, and as I unwrapped it, I said “So, there was a bit of an incident in the toilet”
“What happened?” Emma asked.
“Oh, you know, just the usual” I replied as I bit into the ice cream, hoping to find some peace within its soft, cool innards.