I was straightening up the papers on my desk when I found the manilla envelope with my elementary school class pictures. Then I recalled the picture of my brother in his Cub Scout uniform. It sat on the piano in our mother’s apartment, opposite a picture of me in a dress.
Some people seem to have complete recall of their childhood, and can flip it on like a television show on reruns. Not me. I can not put together a linear narrative. It is a disorganized jumble of images and half-obscured scenes.
When I was seven I had to face up to being prohibited from joining the Cub Scouts, being barred from trying out for Little League, and being forbidden to study drumming. I was offered alternatives. I refused to become a Brownie. I refused to go to gymnastics. I refused to study dance. I took piano lessons and music theory.
The reasoning was clear to me, but I did not have the vocabulary to explain that I was butch or transgender. The Brownie uniform included a skirt. Gymnastics required wearing a leotard. Dance required wearing a tutu, tights, and ballet slippers. It would have been impossible to pretend that I was a boy in any of those outfits. I wanted to do exactly what my brother did.