Flu Shot

The other day, I  had my flu shot. As a health worker I’m required to have one, and they are administered in the clinic at the org that I work for. Nurses and trainees were brought in for a two hour block of shots for staff.

As I waited my turn in the hall, a white woman with an English accent came out to fill in my form with me. I spelt my last and first name clearly and she carefully printed SHEILA, and then circled the M with a great flourish and asked me my birthday.

“I’m not an M. I’m an F,” I told her.

“Oh, sorry,” said she, crossing out the circled M with a very forceful dash, and circling the F.

We move along so there’s always a person in the “shot” chair and always a person in the “on deck” position.

As I slipped into the “shot” chair, a man took my spot on deck.

A different nurse picked up one of the two waiting forms, then returned it to the table and picked up the other, and said, turning to me, “Okay, Darryl, are you ready for your flu shot?”

“I’m Sheila,” I said.

More apologies, and I got my flu shot.

What interests me is: What are the things about me that seem to trump all other clues?

Besides my name, which can be tricky cross culturally. I don’t always know which are women’s and men’s names in other languages either. Though this wasn’t the case the day of the flu shot.

As to the washroom dramas, the biggest “clue” should be that I have chosen
that washroom. And I’m not left in surprise when I realize I am in the “ladies.”

When I speak, the reaction is almost comical if only for its exaggerated double-take, but it’s also the part that screams “freak” the loudest…that look of “What do I look like? Some sort of idiot to you ?” Ironically, the tension that generates lowers my already deep voice.

Even if it’s in the change room and I’m in my swimsuit by now, the incredulous wariness often persists, even when they come up with a reluctant apology–which is maybe half the time.

They are often rude in ways very at odds with our polite Canadian society.


3 thoughts on “Flu Shot

  1. Sheila Gilhooly Post author

    Hey dykeconfessions ..great to see you thanks for writing, I was mostly bemused by the whole thing though it had a certain irony coming right after this book was launched. I agree that it is largely inattention and i am quite androgynous looking and have a deep voice…and don’t mind sir at the grocery store. But when it does matter because it’s a washroom or change room or involves my name matching, then I am offended when I say I’m not a man and they are disbelieving or nasty, The reaction of the person making the mistake makes a huge difference ..they can be so stung and gob-smacked that they could have made such an error, THEY are angry, and humiliated and really looking for someone (else) to blame…

  2. dykeconfessions

    While I’ve never had this sort of thing happen to me, I’ve had lots of surprised looks and glares in the washroom. I would imagine that these folks weren’t really paying attention. Were you offended by it? Find it amusing?

  3. BK

    great to see that you’re continuing with more stories. Not that I’m glad that mistaken identity rears its head so often, but the wider these stories get circulated, the more chance of change.


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