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Alex Dang: Times I've been mistaken for a girl. One, ever since I was tall enough to reach the phone, perched and mounted against my wall, I was old enough to answer it. And every time I did, I was always greeted by someone on the other end calling me ma'am. And, for the longest time, I thought they were saying 'man,' because I was cool and hip, man.

Two, when entering high school, I found a correlation between girls finding I was cute and long swishy hair, so I grew my hair out like an optimist never cut their dreams down or how dreamers never trim their hopes short. But this lion's mane became and remained a gender mystery to some store owners asking my girlfriend and I, "So, how are you ladies doing tonight?" 

Three, I was always a crier. And, with three older brothers, manlier and tougher than I, it wouldn't be strange to hear "shut up" or "buck up." Uncomfortably familiar like loneliness. Hearing "stop being a girl" was a terrible mantra that I just got used to like "I will never amount to anything" or "I will die alone." 

Four Though very far from the truth, my mom in her traditional ways, believes 'gay' to be synonymous with 'effeminate,' so it wouldn't be odd for her to question my sexuality due to the clothing I wore or how much I spent on appearances. "Why don't you go do boy things?" "How are you going to take care of your wife?" 

Five, When my father found out that sometimes I like looking at boys, he told my mother that he lost a son, and I can't help but think about my sister, who is six. My mother used to complain about having four boys and no daughters. 

Seven, my sister was born in 1991, but, eight. died three days after her birth due to complications. Nine, my mother didn't want to have any children after that, but, 10, my father said he had a feeling, but I think it was 11 that he wanted to have another daughter. 

Twelve, I didn't come out the way they expected. Thirteen. I think I was a failure before I was even conceived. Three. I was always a crier. Fourteen, I was always so mad at myself for being so sensitive. Fifteen, why wasn't it okay to play house with the girls? Sixteen, I was never good at cops and robbers. Seventeen, they called roll and said "Alexandria." 

Zero, I was a disappointment before I even existed. Twelve, I didn't come out the way they expected. Twelve, I didn't come out the way they expected. Twelve, I didn't come out the way they expected.

And now, I'm at some variable of a number wondering if it still makes a difference. My hair is shorter, my voice is a little deeper, and I still may not do things a boy does. Instead, I do things a person does. 


Announcer: That was Alex Dang.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

This poem, "Times I've Been Mistaken for a Girl," is brought to you by the incredible Alex Dang. Go ahead and follow him on Facebook.

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