…ue to fear; I wasn’t afraid of the girls. I was afraid of behaving inappropriately in front of them. I saw them as different and was scared of treating them differently. I overcompensated by planting a dopey smile on my face.
I think this is a current problem facing many today. Some people outright ignore a person's a identity and don't treat them different, which results in insensitivity. At the other extreme, some people choose to praise other's identity, which becomes weird and uncomfortable. Take for example, the emphasis by the news media because a person of color, or a woman, or a person who's LGBT is the first person of their kind to enter that government position. However, in certain cases, those people don't have a good history, or have a history of questionable morals. Yet, some media flat out ignores that in favor of praising their identity.
It's a matter of finding the middle ground. Acknowledge their identity but don't see them or treat them as different. We're all human.