A glance can be so simple. It can be exciting, promising or connecting. A glance can be the precursor to an introduction, or the casual inspection of a stranger. But for gender diverse people, darting eyes can be an overwhelming source of anxiety.
When living outside societal gender norms, gazes come from everywhere. Curious people want to steal a glimpse to absorb a new experience. For others, gender diversity is seen as controversial or threatening, and a sideways look serves to size up and ward away. Advocates, allies and other inhabitants of the wider gender spectrum use excited eyes to confirm a fellow confidant in their mix. Admirers, chasers and fetishists lust with objectifying leers. And there are those who don’t know what to think; their squints hunt for help in navigating their uneasy confusion.
It’s often impossible to tell these glances and their glancer's motivations apart. The unfortunate gender rebel becomes an exhibit in a zoo of the world’s observations, unable to effect the flow or direction of judgement. When dressing up to go to a party, one usually hopes to look good enough to attract glances, but the fantasy quickly sours when good attention becomes indistinguishable from bad. A simple smile from a stranger might seem sinister to a gender nonconformist if they’ve allowed their perspective be jaded by constant social friction.
How tragic that the things we do to make ourselves feel our best can leave us so vulnerable if society is on the fence about our actions. Someone deciding to outwardly present as their true self may not have realized that they were choosing a road that would require a zenful ability to let unsolicited glares, awkward body language and stilted interactions roll off their back.
However, if one can let go of the baggage that a bombardment of unwanted attention can bring, they might find that the social climate can be changed. Because glances are, in fact, fleeting. They are precursors to first impressions, impermanent. Besides, the right kind of confidence can leave any cynic toothless.