Last night (Tuesday, December 12, 2006), I attended the Avon representatives Christmas party en femme. There were approximately 75 in attendance and as I expected, I was the only male Avon representative at the party.
I also guessed correctly that I would be one of the best dressed at the party, but what I did not expect was that it was no contest! I was WAY overdressed for the party. Most of the other reps wore slacks or jeans with tops and a minority wore skirts with tops. I was the only rep wearing a dress (see the accompanying photo).
As I arrived at the hotel, I saw how the other reps on their way to the party were dressed and I had a lot of trepidation attending the party myself the way I was dressed. I actually considered hightailing it out of there. But, as I contemplated my next move in the lobby of the hotel, my district manager greeted me and urged me to go into the party despite expressing my uneasiness about being overdressed.
I signed in at the registration table, received a gift, a raffle ticket, and a name badge. I did not know what name (my real name or my femme name) to put on the badge, so I did not bother wearing it.
After registering, I looked for an empty chair and a friendly face. Everyone looked at me as I walked into the area where everyone was seated. From some of their facial expressions, I felt that they thought I was overdressed, too.
When I found an empty chair, I asked if it was taken and it was not, so I sat down. There were five reps at my table: one older, three about my age, and one younger. They were all very pleasant and included me in their conversation.
Everyone I encountered throughout the evening was very friendly, as if I had known them for years. When I rose to get a drink or go to the powder room, I noticed people checking me out. And when I was in line for the buffet, I could not help noticing all the other folks in line checking me out closely. But I never heard a discouraging word and saw a lot of smiles directed at me.
At the end of the evening, I said goodbye to my district manager and she gave me a big hug. As we separated, I said that we had never met in person and I wanted to introduce myself. I said, "I am (my real name)."
She said, "I know."
I guess she put two and two together sometime during the evening. She knew I was coming, but had never met me. And she seemed to have known most of the other reps in attendance, so by process of elimination, the tall stranger must be me.
Needless to say, I am curious how well I passed last night, but I guess I will never know. No one let on that they knew I was male. They interacted with me as if I was another female. No one in line with me waiting to use the ladies' room wondered why I didn't use the men's room (where there was no line). So, I guess I did pass!
member of the girls' club
According to Wikipedia, "Passing refers to the ability of an individual to be successfully accepted by others as belonging to a gender opposite to that of their biological sex."
Reflecting on my experience at the Avon representatives Christmas party, I have come to the conclusion that I passed.
My district manager knew that I was male, yet she treated me no differently than she treated the other Avon representatives at the party, who were all female.
The other Avon representatives at the party may or may not have known I was male, yet they treated me no differently either.
I also was on the receiving end of some clues that indicate that I was a member of the girls' club:
* Whenever I caught the eye of any woman at the party, the woman always smiled at me and often greeted me with a "hello" or something similar. (I made sure to smile back and return the greeting.)
* Women chatted with me throughout the evening. Naturally, a lot of the chitchat was related to Avon, but there was also non-Avon female-oriented chitchat. I did not speak as much as I would have liked because I feared my voice would give me away. (Note to self: work on your femme voice.) However, I did speak occasionally and I even made a couple of humorous comments that received a lot of laughs from the women seated at my table.
Therefore, I would say that I was "successfully accepted by others as belonging to a gender opposite to that of their biological sex."
For all I know, everyone at the party may have realized I was male, but they all treated me as a lady.
Why? Here are the possibilities:
* Some people believed I was female. (My presentation is very good and I am sure I fooled some people.)
* Some people believed I was a former male that had undergone sex reassignment surgery to become a female. (I am over six feet tall and 200 pounds, which is rare among naturally born females, so some people may have bought into the transsexual scenario. On the other hand, I was Christmas shopping at Borders yesterday and standing in front of me in the check-out line was a young woman wearing flats who was my height, give or take an inch, and she sure looked like a naturally-born woman to me. If she was at the Christmas party, no one would have thought she was a former male because of her height and weight.)
* Some people believed I was a crossdressed male, but they deferred to my gender presentation.
* Some people had no clue, but they were polite.
People were checking me out throughout the evening. Did they suspect
something was amiss or was it because I was dressed to kill? Next time I attend
an Avon representative gathering, I will dress more appropriately and then I
think I will be able to better gauge how I pass.