Earlier today I had a strange interaction with a cashier at a farmers' market. The Killers song with the line "you had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend" was playing and the cashier said, "that would freak me out, if I had a boyfriend who looked like a girlfriend haha." I stood there silently for a minute (while they repeated themselves in different words, seemingly wondering why I wasn't laughing), toyed with the idea of walking away without another word, and then decided to just say whatever came out of my mouth.
Me: "Well that's my favorite kind of person, so..." *shrug*
Them: "what? A boyfriend who looks like a girlfriend?" *surprised*
Me: "Yeah, or the other way around. I like to mix it up."
Them: "a girlfriend who looks like a boyfriend?" *half mumbling now* "but what would they even be? A boy or a girl? Now I'm totally confused about gender."
Me: "well, that's my ultimate goal in life, to make people completely confused about gender" *walks off*
Them: *still mumbling confusedly about their confusion*
Not sure if they thought I was joking, but confusion is better than confident ignorance! The main thing that keeps me from talking back when people say transphobic shit is not knowing what to say, not being able to think fast enough. I don't think I said anything very meaningful and certainly I didn't give a clear understanding of my perception of gender, but I pushed back. Maybe that weird little interaction will plant a seed. If I had been able to think faster I could have said something that might have actually taught something, but I couldn't, and that's just going to have to be okay. My instinct at being attacked (however accidentally) is to freeze, and I don't know a way around that.
Who knows, maybe random blathering is more effective.