I am bad at doors. I’ve always had some weird issues with doors previous to my transition, but it’s a lot worse now. Let’s be clear, I am a capable human, and can walk through a door, but when you add other humans to the equation, I have literally no idea what the hell I’m supposed to do.
At least here in the US, doors are very gendered in how people behave. This is enough of a conundrum that it’s become a tired trope for straight cis gendered guys to lament about what these infernal feminists want? I mean, they were just trying to hold the door open for a woman, right?
That’s the rub, there is a lot of loaded gendered behavior in regards to how we approach opening doors. Racing to open a door for a woman might seem great, but what if she had it? What if you just look like an ass, racing in front of her to open the door, in a less than chivalrous creeper fest?
Add to that, what do you do when it’s just men? Go through, hold it for the next guy? Can you hold it open for everyone? (Surprise! Some guys get really weird about that, presumably because you only do that for women.)
At what point do you usher a feminine presenting person through, or hold the door for your masculine friends?
So, I am bad at doors. I grew up in the 80s, and there was a leftover of the feminist movement from the 60s and 70s that left enough of a mark on the popular consciousness that I was vaguely aware of the weirdness of some of my male friends racing to hold the door for me, even when it put them at a distinct disadvantage. Despite my being young, healthy, and more than capable.
This led to some weird interactions where some guys would try to enforce the man-holding-door-for-woman dynamic by literally racing ahead of me, or physically preventing me from opening a door. Often quoting anti-feminist rhetoric. I always felt this was a weird hill to plant your flag on. I mean, there is literally everything more important than door opening, and order of entrance, so for me it was a weird dispute.
At least until I realized much later that I was challenging male to female power dynamics. These teenage boys were just enforcing a gender norm they had been indoctrinated in. I was, by my own burgeoning masculinity, threatening the status quo by soundly rejecting that.
As an adult who has transitioned female to male, this puts me in a weird position that I have no real idea what to do with doors because it also gets an additional layer of weirdness. Sometimes folks that know I am transgender will open the door for me 100% of the time as if I am a woman, putting me in a feminine role. A lot of the times it’s subconscious, because some of these folks are super cool with me.
That means every time a group of us, be it coworkers or friends, goes through a series of doors, I generally have no idea what to do. Doors are my kryptonite, where I stall, and hang back if possible.
I’d like to think a reasonably competent person could navigate the door situation, with it’s weird set of gendered rules and expectations, but here we are. Under the obvious simplicity of it all, is an ocean of gendered expectations and complications.