By the time I turned six I knew I was a boy; I did not want to be a girl. I also thought about it the other way around. I wanted to be a boy, and I knew I wasn’t a girl. I knew what felt right and what felt wrong. No one could convince me otherwise. I was a boy. I wanted to be a boy.
I knew I only felt comfortable in boys clothing. I was ecstatic when people called me young man or son or buddy. I knew that not all boy’s bodies were the same. I knew that some boy’s bodies looked like mine. It was frustrating that no one believed me.
In 1964 I could see that the world was split into two separate spheres; girls and boys. So much of what I wanted was off-limits. I did not understand why I had to look and act like a girl. Why couldn’t I choose between the two? Why couldn’t I be an exception to the rules?
I refused to believe that how you peed or what was in your underpants determined anything other than how you peed and what was in your underpants. I believed in what you wore, and how you acted, and who you said you were. If I wore boys clothing, acted like a boy, and said I was I boy, then that should prove it. It made sense to me but not to anyone else. I wasn’t pretending to be anything.
I fervently believed that I would turn into a boy. Either everyone would realize that I was one, or I would wake up one morning and be one. I could not accept the alternative. I was not going to grow up and be a teenage girl or a woman. I would never, ever, want to get married and have kids, or put-on make-up, or wear pantyhose, or walk in heels. I could not picture the future as female. I would only play house as the Dad.
I knew all this. I knew what it meant. I didn’t know the name for it. Everything I know about being trans I learned before I was six. Somehow it got pushed down below the surface by my parents, by my teachers, and by the kids at school and in the playground. I didn’t talk about it. I stuffed down the disappointment and the hurt. I held out hope. I fantasized that I was a boy. I created an alternative inner life as a boy. I dreamed up cockamamie schemes to turn myself into a boy.
Outwardly, I was the weird quiet chubby tomboy. Later, I discovered there were masculine women. I came out as a butch lesbian. My gender and my sexuality were muddled together. I lived as if I was a boy, but it was not enough. I kept silent. I kept swallowing it down but I kept heaving it back up. I knew it all again.
Where did the truth go between the ages of six and fifty? Why did it take so long for me to return to it? How do I make sense of the intervening years and does it matter?
Notes: This post is a reaction to a Simone Weil quote I received in an e-mail a few weeks ago “Nothing can have a destination which is not its origin.” The quote in context has nothing to do with gender or sexuality, but it captures a childhood spent trying to hold onto the truth only to recapture it after a long journey.