"You know this is the girls' bathroom, right?" Distrust and correction was in her voice, an icy tension between us. This wasn't a conversation, it was an accusation

"Yes," I said, my hand on the doorknob.

She stared me down, brow furrowed, like she knew something I didn't. She disappeared down the hall, the tense air snapping away like a rubber band. I replayed the event in my head. I wasn't really mad, mostly surprised she would think a fourth grader would walk into the wrong bathroom.

Picture a normal girl. I probably don't look like that. My hair is never brushed, with bangs all over. I wear plain, loose athletic shorts. I wouldn't say I have a "style;" I just want comfortable things that work for sports. I can barely describe myself because I don't know the words to describe hairstyles and clothes.

I know three boys named Elliot but no girls and you can't change the spelling to make it a boy's or girl's name. People question me — even challenge my answers — countless times; at the pool, at career day. Soccer referees make the mistake, even though boys can't play in a girl's league. People act like I am a wrong puzzle piece, like it is my fault that I don't fit their expectations.

Last year, my Dad bought lemonade at a Giants game for me and my brother who has long hair. "Here is one for your son," the vendor said, "and some for your daughter," giving some to my brother. We shared a small smile. My brother doesn't care how people think of him.

The hardest part for me is correcting people, which I rarely do. I know I should correct them more often but I hate seeing their embarrassment. It makes me feel as if I am wrong to make people feel bad. But if I don't it will be a never ending circle of mistakes. The only way to change the stereotype is to break it. I know there's nothing I can do to fix past mistakes, but I think I might be able to change people's views by simply being me.

With a Perspective, I'm Elliot Singer.

Eliot Singer is 11 and attends the San Francisco Day School when she isn't playing soccer and rock climbing.

  • Olivia

    Eliot – you are incredibly articulate and insightful. You continue being you, strong and self confident. I found your story very empowering and moving, I wish you the best in your journey through life. There are many who will learn how to be better people because of you and your story today. You sprinkled that inspirational fairy dust out in the ether. May it land on the shoulders of those most in need. Olivia

    • Herb

      Elliot- Wow… So proud of you ! You are always going to be uniquely you and you are already impacting the world in ways most adults can only dream. Stay well my friend, take chances, climb high, and play hard. Miss ya ! -Mr. Bool

      • Guest

        I know how you feel Elliot, I am a girl named Jeremy. I am over 50 now and people still ask if my parents wanted a boy. Its been a great life being different and you already have a good perspective.

  • Shreyas Ramaswamy

    Eliot- Listening to you this morning provided a much needed motivational kick . Be strong and Inspire on!

  • Coach

    Eliot – your strength and confidence will only get stronger. To know you are at a school that supports all individuals and differences allows you to be who you are. Keep walking strong, when I was young I faced the same “looks’ – it is very hard to correct people, or ask what they are looking at, when you “are who you are” which is strong and confident! Walk on!

  • Corrigan

    Eliot, I’m proud to know you.

  • Ms. G

    Elliot, I’m so proud of you for sharing your story with the city! Imagine what it would have felt like to hear this story from another girl before you wrote yours. You now are that kid who can help others feel comfortable and proud of who they are. Well done, my friend, well done. Ms. G

  • Ms. Adler

    … Simply being you… So proud to know you!

  • Kelly D

    Awesome Elliot! So well spoken – add writing to your passions – you have a gift ๐Ÿ™‚ AND I have seen and felt some expereinces like yours. I’m boy named Kelly – like your brother – with long hair when young I got those gender recognition errors. I’m not sure you willever break the stereotype from others, but you ARE forming your own space inside for that to happen personally – it called knowing you are OK, and then others’ stereotypes do not define you. Your example IS inspirational to EVERYONE who encounters stereotypes. Our best response is to cultivate knowledge that we are OK – however we are… This usually includes correcting the ‘offending’ people since it is personally validating and shares what its like to know you’re OK with others. If you break their sterotype thats good, if you inspire others with your OKness and courage you create a ripple in every aspect of our lives. Your commentary is an example – Nice Ripple!!!
    Kelly

  • Evan S.

    Great writing, great thinking, great heart. You tell it like it is, Elliot.

  • Gabi Moskowitz

    I love it, Eliot! You are amazing.

  • Iain

    HOW ARE YOU 11?

    That was very well said. I’m 34 and I can completely relate. I was a long-haired boy when I was a kid and people still don’t often ‘get’ me.

    Keep writing. You’ll go far.

  • Whitewater

    You may not fit the stereotype and for that you should be proud. I can only hope my daughters are just like you and become themselves above all else.

  • Haight Mom

    I might make the mistake and assume you’re a boy, but I wouldn’t mind being corrected either!

  • Ms. Harris

    ELLIOT. You’re amazing. I am beyond proud of you for sharing a snippet of your perspective with such a large audience. If I had still had my purple trumpet, it would be the gift I’d give you in honor of your awesomeness. – Ms. Harris

  • Kristen

    I heard you on the radio this morning, and I was so impressed with how insightful and eloquent you are. You have a great life ahead of you!

  • Sheika Darby-Luc

    Eliot, what a fantastic piece. I am amazed at your writing, your voice, and poise. It is so good to see how you have grown.

    With admiration,
    Ms. Luc (2nd Grade)

  • wilcam

    And you’re going places – good for you! (BTW, when I saw your picture before I read the article I thought “what a beautiful girl; I wonder what this is about?”). Enjoy your life.

  • Melanie K.

    Elliot, thank you for sharing your Perspective.

  • Claudia Six, PhD

    You go, Elliot! You’re beautiful. And you’re outspoken about being yourSelf!
    If that’s ok, I’d like to post your ‘perspective’ on my website.
    Claudia Six, PhD
    Clinical Sexologist
    http://www.drsix.net

  • Lia Seth

    What a great piece!! Any story about correcting people’s assumptions and making them rethink their (sometimes limited) world views are like gold to me. Thanks for sharing your story, Elliot.

  • Jeff Hirtle

    Eliot- Be yourself. You’re perfect just the way you are.

  • Aurora Theresa

    Someone said to me when I was maybe nine “you look like a boy, you might as well be a boy”…. These words people say echo inside our head, we don’t forget. I like to assume that people dont intend their comments to hurt us, of course some do, but in the end, i have a sense of belonging and home inside myself, that no one can damage. I realize that it’s their own way of making sense of the world. Your individuality and self-confidence are beautiful. If only all of us, children and adults alike, could have the courage to be whoever it is we are, (and let others deal with how uncomfortable it might make them) the world would be more vibrant and genuine. Hats off to you, young lady

  • Ellen

    Great essay. I can’t tell you how many times over my life I’ve walked into a restroom (particularly at airports) and have been told that I’m in the wrong restroom. It’s crazy. When I was a kid I had an affinity for blue jeans and high tops and would get grief all the time from peers….I still wear ’em. :-))

    Stay true to yourself and be who YOU are. That’s the definition of “normal.” Thanks for sharing.

  • Jennifer Phillips

    Elliot: What a great piece! I am so proud of what an amazing writer and human you have become.

    Love, Ms. Phillips (Kindergarten)

  • Kurt

    Elliot- We heard this on the way to school today! We are so proud of you. Keep being who you are.

  • Carla

    Elliot!!!! You are the coolest 11 years old I know by far, and one of the coolest person of all ages!. Youยดve got my admiration! With your fresh, smart and sharp aproach, I bet you got more than one person thinking (you got me at least). Congratulations, you rock!

  • Mike Adamick

    You are an extraordinarily gifted writer. This is amazing.

  • David Orozco

    You keep doing you Elloit, you’re awesome & at a young age you have such great perspective! You go girl!!!

  • Leanne Emm

    Awesome “Perspective,” Eliot. Keep on being you. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Fif Ghobadian

    Elliot
    You are brave, confident and powerful. I am so impressed. I know how you feel and I can only tell you that one day you will be judged not by your clothes, your appearance, your gender but by who you are as a person. Just be YOU!!!

  • DQ

    Elliot, your story was thought provoking and courageous. As a high school teacher, this is something I think about constantly and work hard to be accepting of everyone for who they are and to not make assumptions. Thank you for challenging us to keep resisting what we believe is “normal” and make room for acceptance.

  • Isa

    Elliot you are so incredibly inspiring! This is amazing

  • Megan–> LC Director, Cheley

    Elliot! What wonderful writing, I am so proud of you for this piece and so happy that I am lucky enough to know you. Never change, you are an amazing young lady.

  • Rhian Beutler

    Dear Elliot,
    You are a brave and inspiring human. Too often do adults and children get caught up judging someone off of their experiences. Do not let them hurt you. Make sure you always stand up for yourself- as other’s societal expectations will never change unless someone changes their mind.

    Also- you are an amazing writer. Keep up the good work. Keep being brave!

  • Christine Irsfeld

    What a wonderful article.

  • Tia Leela

    Elle,
    I am remarkably proud of you. Your courage, empathy and perspective ๐Ÿ™‚ You have always been simply you. May you always stay that way.
    Love you,

    Tia Leela

  • The Nyes

    Elliot- we just listened to your piece and we all loved it and think it is so cool you did this.

  • Guest

    Sweet, sweet Elliot. I am BEYOND proud of you. You have talent and maturity beyond your years. The way you write is genuine, skilled, and simply amazing. You have always been an inspiration to me since I met you last year, and words cannot describe how wonderful you truly are. Keep being you, because you are such a positive influence in our world!

  • Haylee – LC counselor

    Sweet, sweet Elliot. I am BEYOND proud of you. You have talent and
    maturity beyond your years. The way you write is genuine, skilled, and
    simply amazing. You have always been an inspiration to me since I met
    you last year, and words cannot describe how wonderful you truly are.
    Keep being you, because you are such a positive influence in our world!

  • Chandra

    Elliot,

    What an amazing piece of writing! What an amazing young person you are! It takes some people their entire lives to feel comfortable in their own skin. Too much is put into how we look and dress to help us look and feel like we think we are supposed to. But the truth is, there is no right way. It’s most important to be uourself and to be comfortable with who you are regardless of what others think. You are ahead of your time. You’re beautiful and perfect just as you are. Just keep having fun and playing sports and hopefully your peers and the rest of the world will catch up and catch on. I think you’re just amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  • Mammain

    Well, Elliot, I applaud your writing but sorry but I’m very confused. What stereotype are you talking about? As far as I’m concerned there’s just two genders. I do blame the lack of parental guidance you’ve had that has led you to believe it’s OK to not claim either gender. Having a name that can be for either boys or girls is one thing, but claiming to look a gender you’re not is your parents’ mistake. You sound as if society is wrong by having a picture of what you should look like, but let’s face it, if you like looking more like a boy (and I don’t see anything wrong with that), girls your age will naturally assume you are a boy. Anyone will be confused. You sound very self-confident and I hope you always remain the same. Sadly, our society is not too open for people like us. Be careful.

  • Dan

    Rock on Elliot! You’re a key part of the Rockers soccer nation! (Hannah’s dad)

  • Corey Holly

    WTG Eliot! People continue to be wrong about many things. Like god. There is no god. LOVE is what matters. Let’s be brave, be honest and love continuously.

    • Corey Holly

      And there I might have been wrong with the spelling of your name. I’m sorry, Elliot, but I wasn’t looking in the article, but at the last line beneath it that states you are 11 and attends the San Francisco Day School when you’re not playing soccer and rock climbing. Have fun, be safe and I hope you remain strong and brave and forgiving as you’ve been. Thank you.

  • Heather Dodge

    Elliot, you are amazing and so well spoken. Always take pride in yourself.

  • BD

    Dear Eliot,
    Your piece gave me hope that my 3 year old daughter can be whomever she wants to be. You are paving the way for her and I am so grateful for you and your words and your beautifully strong perspective.

    BD

  • Wendy B

    Elliot – you are AWESOME! My 9 year old daughter is like you and is mistaken for a boy all the time because of her athleticism and short hair … Go rock your cute short hair and comfy clothes, girl … rip it up on the field … And don’t stop being you … The world needs more of you … Strong, smart, confident, beautiful women …

    • Wendy B

      PS … I shared your piece with her and she thinks you are pretty awesome too!

  • Colleen

    Elliot, we are so proud of you! You are not only an amazing person, but also a compassionate and courageous one. Keep being you!!! love from all the von Eckartsbergs – Zoe, Nico, Chris and Colleen

  • Jerome Joseph Gentes

    Do I feel fortunate to have heard your story, Elliot! You’re an inspiration to this man who was once a boy who was often called a girl. Keep on keeping on!

  • riyad

    Thanks for speaking up! Keep being yourself and the world will be a better place.

  • Selostaja

    Brilliant. I looked up your piece to see what face was behind (or in front) of this confusion and I find myself confused. I would never have confused your gender as you are obviously a beautiful, confident girl. Interestingly, it’s attitude that people ‘see’ first, and you are coming across as healthy, direct and clear headed. Sadly, these traits are not associated with being female. Marketing depends on creating insecurity to sell products and media pushes unrealistic images that shape popular ideals. You aren’t going along with their program! Keep up the good work and welcome to the Secret Society of Statistical Outliers!

  • Terri

    Wow. I could have written this exact story at your age. I played little league on a boys’ team, had short hair, preferred “boy” things and asked my parents to wear “boy” clothes before I was old enough to go to school. And I happened to have a gender-neutral name. I was often mistaken for a boy, and I understood why people thought that so it didn’t bother me too much – I never felt like I was being judged. I corrected them when it made sense to, and let it go when it didn’t seem to matter. But honestly nobody that actually knew me seemed to care. Not my classmates, not my teammates, not my coaches, not my parents. And, most importantly, not me. It’s actually shocking looking back that this was as small of a deal as it was, that I can’t recall a single incident that made me feel bad about it, but I was just me, like you said, and because I never apologized for who I was, nobody ever expected me to. As I got older things changed – I naturally looked more like a female and became a little more “feminine”, but in my own way and on my own terms and because I was changing, not because other people expected me to change.

  • Becca

    You are amazing! Great writing!
    Keep breaking those stereotypes!

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