Assumed Identities: 10/13

What have other people assumed they knew about you?

We all know the old adage about what happens when we assume, and yet people just love to make assumptions every day about other people’s identity. Most people don’t think about the comments they say to other people because they imagine they have their whole life figured out: they know what race, sexuality, class, and religion you are. But when they’re wrong, it makes for some awkward times.

Has there been a time you have had your identity wrongly assumed? How did it make you feel?

Has someone ever assumed you speak a certain language because of the way you look?

Have you ever been mistaken for a couple when out with your sister?

What did you do when someone thought you were of a different class because of the way you were dressed or the event you were attending?

How did you respond to the person who assumed your sexuality or religion?

Do you say something when someone spouts insults about the political party you side with?

What happens when someone assumes that because of a handicap you are incapable of functioning fully?



But then there is also a flip side to this: when other people assume aspects of our lives, sometimes it provides an easy escape. Other times, we get worried we may sound offensive if we are not what we have been identified as. Have you ever purposely assumed an alternate identity for some reason? Was it ever advantageous or simply easier to just roll with the punches?

When someone assumed you were married, did you neglect to inform them you were actually single?

Even though you’re a lowly employee in your company, did you just glaze over that fact when your date assumed you were the boss?

The last time you were in a place of worship, did you give a true account of your spiritual journey (or lack thereof) to the person who greeted you with some small talk?

Have you ever led someone to believe you are a different sexuality than you in reality are just for the attention it brought your way?


We want to hear your stories—humorous, saddening or sobering—about times when someone identified you as something other than what you are. We want to hear about the secrets, the disappointments, and the jokes that have come out of these times of confusion. If you have something you’d like to submit, send it to Daniel Jones at Media of all kinds will be considered. The deadline for submissions for this call is Saturday, October 13.


Read more Calls For Submissions.

Three quarter view of a man image courtesy of Shutterstock

About Daniel Jones

Daniel Jones is a rising senior at Emerson College in Boston where he is double-majoring in Writing, Literature, & Publishing and Theatre Studies. He began writing in high school for his local newspaper and has since been published or held editing positions in various college publications. He has interned with the Boston Book Festival and Samuel French, Inc., based in New York City. He hopes to find a career combining his interests in theatre, literature, and gender. If you have any ideas concerning this or have a particularly amusing comment, feel free to get in touch with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.


  1. I’m an American Indian male, but have usually been mistaken for female by non-Native people. When I was 16 I felt traumatized when I was out with a group of friends, and the female student sitting next to me got into an argument with the waitress about my gender. Frustrated, she turned to me and ripped open my shirt to expose my chest and “win” her argument. But one of my funniest moments of gender assumption was when I was with one of my closest female friends, and an adult asked her, “Are you two sisters?” And she replied, “Sisters? We’re not even Catholic!”

  2. I once was assumed to be conservative, which was actually a sort-of-compliment (from an enlightened moderate) because I see myself as a conservative from a future, more civilized age.

  3. I wouldn’t know where to start addressing this topic!

    Where do you start as an ethnically diverse, gay, crippled, agnostic Buddhist male, who does not give two hoots for social class boundaries and economic barriers?

    What happens when someone assumes that because of a handicap you are incapable of functioning fully?

    They get re-educated – if necessary with walking aids inserted in orifices at supersonic speeds! P^) It’s been seen to act as quite a deterrent!

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