"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.