"You're a girl!" a guy with a permanently damaged head said to me when I met him at my event yesterday. Yes, I am a girl, despite you having addressed me as Mr neil in all your email correspondences with me previously. I have (in my very correct opinion) a very feminine Chinese name and I'd never thought that my name could ever be gender-ambiguous. However, of late, I'd been addressed as MR and EN (encik) by several people, on several occassions in correspondence. This had never happened before! I had been incorrectly addressed as Prof neil once (ahem! but he was the author of the textbook I was using and was responding to a query of mine, so it's not surprising that he thought I was some big-shot professor) and Mr neil once (he accused me of defaming him just because I told him he cannot use the same MCQs in the final exams for 2 semesters in a row... so we all roughly know his IQ). Maybe it's the different people that I deal with now, but I had never been thought a man by so many different people, so many times! And how am I supposed to respond when they began their emails with "Dear Mr neil..."? Am I to reply "I'm MS neil"? "I'm female"? "I'm not a man"? No matter what the words and how they are arranged, telling someone you're not a man like they assumed, is very awkward.
Someone suggested that I use an English name - one that is unmistakably feminine. This is a very good idea, though I really love my Chinese name, and do want to simply just keep to it. There are many advantages to using an English name of your choice - you can choose a really pretty name that reflects your style or personality, people tend to remember you much more easily, and people will NOT mistaken your gender!
I was seriously contemplating adopting an English name when today, another guy who also had permanently damaged his head, who also had previously addressed me as Mr neil in his emails, whom I also met and spoke to at my event yesterday, sent me an email. It began "Dear Mr neil...". Right. Feminine English name? Forget about it. Don't bother. I probably look like a man anyway.