` Gender and shopping — imaginary family values

Last update on .

The second part of the Boston Globe’s series on a Somerville doctor who got a male-to-female sex change begins thusly:

At age 52, Deborah Bershel made her first trip to the mall. It lasted nine hours. It was July 2006, and there was barely a rack of clothes in the Burlington Mall that she didn’t comb through. The next day she headed to the Natick Mall and logged another five hours shopping. She was making up for lost time. In each store, her approach was usually the same. She’d march up to a salesclerk and explain, “I’m a transsexual, so I’m new to this.” Then she’d ask her particular question, whether it be which cut of jeans would cover the top of her panties or which type of fabrics wouldn’t cling to her arms. “I have questions that no 50-year-old woman should have,” she said.

My wife inferred from this anecdote that Bershel had no female friends, because otherwise, she would be asking those friends for advice, not sales clerks. Women, she said, shop in groups as a social activity; men shop for the purpose of getting something. (The standard “all generalizations are false” disclaimer applies.)

I suggested that she put that observation in her LJ, but she asked me to put it here, since it connects with my previous comments regarding transwomen and platonic female friendship.

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