Excuse me sir ... or is it madam?

Aasma Day
Aasma Day
Have your say

HAS anyone ever got the sex wrong?

Before you all start blushing, I’m not prying into your personal life, but merely questioning whether you’ve ever mistakenly referred to someone as the wrong gender.

I ask because, this week, I received two letters and three e-mails referring to me as “Mr Aasma Day”.

Now I concede not everyone knows if “Aasma” is a male or female name but why would the natural assumption be that I’m male?

And the emails really were taking the biscuit as they were in response to an enquiry and my email even includes a headshot of me wearing bright red lipstick!

Mistakes do happen and I’m sure most people have put their foot in it by erroneously thinking someone either looks or sounds like a man when they’re a woman or vice versa.

When you realise your blunder, the embarrassment is up there with asking someone when their baby’s due only to discover they’re not pregnant.

Speaking of babies, it’s usually with babies that people make their sex faux pas.

I’m not just talking about during baby scans. Although it’s pretty rare nowadays with advanced technology, but occasionally, couples are told they’re having a girl only to end up with a boy.

Is it just me or does anyone else suppress a snigger when they hear of people who complain they’d already picked a girl’s name, painted the nursery pink and spent a fortune on baby girl’s dresses?

Serves them right for being so organised. And surely the most important thing is that the baby’s healthy?

Even after the baby arrives, there’s still confusion among some who can’t distinguish whether it’s male or female.

I don’t mean the parents but strangers who coo over the baby and trill: “Ohhh, what a cute little boy!” only to have the mum or dad indignantly answer through gritted teeth: “SHE’S a girl!”

When our twins were babies, shopping trips would turn into full-time expeditions as people would stop to shower them with compliments.

As proud parents, it was lovely to have our twosome admired, but it did get sometimes get tiresome when we’d get asked: “Are they two boys?” when one was wearing pink and the other blue.

Or another favourite question – after we’d already pointed out one was a boy and the other a girl – was: “Are they identical?”

“Er, no. One’s a boy and one’s a girl. That’s quite a major difference.”

Although we all think our own babies are the most beautiful beings and cannot fathom how anyone could not tell whether they’re male or female, I admit there are occasions when it is difficult to ascertain.

Let’s face it, a lot of babies are bald or have very little hair and when they’re dressed in neutral colours, plumping for the right sex can be a dilemma.

Even when they’re a bit older and have hair, it can still be a predicament. Just because a child has gorgeous golden curls doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a girl.

I find the safest thing to say in these situations is something vague like: “Aw, what an absolute cutie!” and then ask “How old?” hoping the parent will precede their answer with: “He” or “She”.

Another tip when you’ve forgotten if someone has had a boy or a girl is to ask: “How’s your little one doing?”

Sex mix-ups can happen with animals as well as humans. One friend decided to buy two baby rabbits and despite being assured by the pet shop they were both 
female, she soon discovered this wasn’t the case.

The pair were soon at it – well, like rabbits I suppose – and before long she had a whole new bunch of bunnies.

One of the most mortifying situations is when you confuse an adult man for a woman or vice versa. With people often wearing unisex clothes and men choosing to wear their hair long and women often having short hairstyles, it can be a minefield.

Voices can also be deceptive with some men sounding high pitched and some women gruff.

However, I like to think I look like a woman.

So I was taken aback when recently shopping to have a cashier say on autopilot: “Thank you, Sir. Have a nice day.”

I darted home to check in the mirror that I hadn’t suddenly sprouted a moustache!