Sometimes I am slow to figure out things that should have otherwise been obvious. For example, I was lying in bed one night trying to fall asleep when I realized that theater is a thing because the actors are in the same room as you. Obviously, right? Everyone knows this. But at the time it seemed like the most important realization I had ever had, suddenly the whole concept of live theater made complete sense to me.
In the same way, it did not occur to me until very recently why I am so obsessed with the whole concept of the "fake geek girls". If you are not familiar, the basic idea is that insecure (mostly) male nerds like to shame women into thinking they are not "real" geeks because they did not suffer the same social stigma or because there is only one true way to be a nerd and these ladies are just pretending to get attention. They ask them esoteric questions and scream when they cannot answer, calling them impostors who are trying to trick the poor nerd boys out of their precious time or money or whatever.
To anyone outside the nerd hivemind this is insanity, you should be happy anyone claims to like the things you like, and moreover there is no test you have to take before you can call yourself a nerd. I might not like it when people call themselves a "nerd" because they know how to change their iPhone wallpaper, but that is just how it goes. There is no such thing as a "fake geek girl".
But this being obvious does not stop a prolonged and useless discussion of the idea from existing, one that I have been obsessed with since I first heard about it. And now I understand why.
I am a fake girl. Or well, I have to put up with getting called a fake girl all the time. I am constantly being tested and I routinely fail.
Being mis-gendered (in my case being called "sir" or the like) is a traumatic experience. At its worst, it is equivalent to the person you are talking to jumping up on the table and screaming into your face "WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO LIE TO ME? STOP LYING!" If it happens enough, you start to fear interactions with strangers because every new conversation is a potential argument where you have to convince the other person you are telling them the truth, when everything in their body says you are lying.
Mostly it has to do with my voice. For most people, something about hearing a masculine voice, regardless of what body it is coming out of, instantly means the person speaking is a man. And if he is insisting that he is really a woman (regardless how he is dressed, acts or any expectations you had of him prior to that moment) then he is lying to you and you must call him out.
This makes me a fake girl lying my way through my day, trying (and failing) to convince people otherwise. Every time someone slips up and casually mis-genders me they are saying that I am not doing a very good job. Every time someone throws it in my face they are saying that are calling me out for it.
This all came to a head a few weeks ago while I was at a concert with some friends. There was a confrontation where some drunk guys started hitting on my friend, and when I tried interjecting something one of them called me "an Asian he/she" and told me to back off. I would like to tell you that I punched him in the face, or hit him in the shin or something, but really my only accomplishment was not running away and bursting into tears.
Whenever I talk about getting mis-gendered with others, the easy response is to say that I should just correct them and move on. The problem is, and I am not sure you are fully aware of this until it happens to you, for me being mis-gendered triggers my fight-or-flight response and that almost always leads to wanting to curl up in a ball and never talk to anyone again. Unfortunately, after nine months of this happening on a daily basis I am not getting much better at reacting.
The jackhole who called me a "he/she" recognized that he crossed the line. Thankfully things cooled down and they made themselves scarce, but the damage was done. He was right: if I were a real girl this never would have happened.
So the idea that we can be what we say we are and nobody has a right to say otherwise is really compelling to me. I can still say that I am a nerd even if I never saw The Princess Bride or played Dungeons and Dragons and you cannot call me a "fake geek" because being a geek means more than just these simple things. It is an inclusive label where everyone is welcome.
But while I can be as self-righteous as I want about nerds yelling at other nerds, I cannot do the same for the people who would call me a fake girl. I am not going to enact sweeping cultural changes that make it acceptable for transgender people to transition without the dumb shit they have to put up with today. I have no idea where to start even.
I may not be a fake geek girl but I am a fake girl. And I want to be real.