Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Virtual Sex Change . . .

Six weeks before moving to California, the same weekend I listed my house, I attended a Writer’s conference on the Oregon Coast. The conference produces a booklet each year with submissions from attendees.

Shortly after arriving in California, I submitted a poem titled Little Black Dress along with a couple others. As requested, I included a short bio. I must have used first person rather than ‘she’ to describe myself.

Sometime in the summer, an email notified me that Little Black Dress had been selected for inclusion in the 2013 booklet. In October, I received a request for my mailing address so they could send a complimentary copy of the booklet.

The booklet arrived while I was away for Thanksgiving. I opened the package with anticipation. There it was, on page 25. Nice! I turned to the bio section. Oops! Sex change! I’m described as ‘he’ four times. It notes that ‘he’ moved to California to be closer to ‘his’ family.

I fumed. Everyone would picture a man, not me, a fairly feminine older woman! How unfair! How rude! How ignorant!

I waited for my heart to stop pounding before sending this to the publisher:

I just received the 2013 Rogue River Echoes. I'm attaching a photo of me to prove that, though my name and former occupation do not 'announce' my gender, I am and always have been female. My poem, Little Black Dress, should have made that clear, but in the biography section I'm described throughout as male. I don't know what can be done to correct that now.

The next morning I woke with a chuckle. The poem laments my lack of cleavage. I would find an artist to do a pen-and-ink drawing of a burly man in my little black dress, send it to the publisher and ask that it be included as a bookmark. That took some of the pain out of my virtual sex change operation!

Meantime, I’m still waiting on a reply.