The world is not easy

Liz wrote…

I don’t really know what to do now that I’ve come to this revelation.

I’ve been sitting in my room all day, drinking hot chocolate, and cataloging old memories…

I remember the first time my mother let me pick out my clothes at the store. I was eight years old, and my little nimble fingers with their pink nails quickly latched on to the brown t-shirt with the little skateboards on it. I went home with a pleated skirt and a lace covered top.

I remember when I was nine, and before a shower I would spend hours in the bathroom contorting my hair to short boy cut lengths so that I could feel better about myself. When I was eleven and early on set puberty made my chest begin to swell, I would wear tight undershirts to flatten myself out. When I was twelve and the boys I played with at recess told me that I was no longer one of their own…

I realized that the world was not easy.

I began wearing tight sports bras to flatten out my chest and hide my feminine curves. I lowered my voice. I entered into sports and spent most of my time alone because no one in my small southern town understood why this preacher’s daughter acted the way she did.

My mother and I fought at every turn. The most vivid memory I have of this time in my life was when I was ten, and cast as a male god in a greek play for my advanced elementary class. I hadn’t even requested the part; the role was complex and my teacher knew I was the only one who would be able to memorize it in time for the performance. My mother was furious, and tried to get me to wear a crown and necklace combo of flowers that she had made her self.

When I refused and declared that “manly gods do not wear flowers in this play”, she slapped me, called me a defamatory name for lesbian, and ran out of the room. I overheard her screaming at my father in the hallway that something was wrong with me, and that if I wanted to be a man, then she could not be my mother.

I fought her until I was fifteen. On the day that I gave up, I’d come home from the mall with new shorts, the long and baggy kind. She burned them in the backyard. While I was crying, she gave me an ultimatum: if I didn’t stop this “pretending to be a boy crap” I’d be shipped off to a christian boarding school the next semester. So, I decided to bury whatever I felt that made me not want to be like the girls around me, and be as feminine as my mother wanted me to be.

I let my mother buy me dresses. I wore pink. I quit a few of my sports team. I made my voice a little higher. I started dating guys. I painted my nails glittery colors. I learned the art of makeup and how to sculpt my face into whatever my mood of the day required. Some days, I even enjoyed the feminine thrill of lace and flowers, and others, it just felt.. wrong. But I still did it for the sake of peace and safety.

These memories are not ones that I visit often. They’ve only been brought to the surface by the words of one of my dear friends. They came by my room last week to talk to me about what they called a, “gender crisis.” They started to tell me their story, and they didn’t get very far into it until I realized how my own story mirrored their own.

I didn’t mention my own struggles, but I did hug and love and cry with them. They left with a smile and quick kiss on my cheek and a, “thank you for accepting and respecting me,” and then I was left with my own thoughts.

I realized, that even though I’m in college and far away from the home that repressed me, I still don’t express myself in the ways that I always naturally wanted to do. I feel as if I’ve conditioned myself in order to survive, and now I struggle to be true to who I am. I’d say that most days I feel comfortable with the way I outwardly express myself. However, there are some days, many times when I’m forced to “dress up” for a formal event, that I feel… wrong, having to slip into a dress that on some days I think is wonderful, but on some days looks odd, awkward, and wrong hanging off of my shoulders.

I feel as if I should do something, but I’m not sure what. I feel as if I should say something to the world around me, but I’m not sure how. I feel as if I want to be something else, but I’m not even sure I understand why.

It’s times like these I understand once again that the world is not easy.

What’s your experience?

And what are you thinking about gender right now?

Posted by on December 17th, 2014 at 08:00 am

Category: your voice 4 comments »

4 Responses to “The world is not easy”

  1. white lines

    <3 if I had all the love in the world, I'd send it to you <3


  2. Liz

    Thank you so very much for your kindness and love <3 since I submitted this I've talked to a few of my closest friends and my partner about my feelings, and they are all very supportive. I feel as if I'm finally coming into who I am and am able to express myself in positive ways. Healing and self acceptance is a process, and I'm on the way <3


  3. A Wise Old Trans

    In 1st grade I became friends with a boy across the alley from us. We would do typical kid things, from playing in the sandbox, seeing who could swing higher, finding shiny stones in the yard, rubbing dandelions on our chins to see if we liked butter, climbing trees. One day, he climbed the tree in our yard but it was too high and was scary to me. I felt so mortified and refused to do it, so he made fun of me and went home, but learned shortly of something called a “tomboy”. I knew right then that I wanted to grow up to be a tomboy and not be afraid of trees or cars or other things! But at some point, I don’t know when, I learned that I couldn’t be a tomboy, because tomboys were girls and I was a boy.

    I don’t know the details of what happened, but in the years afterwards I spent uncountable time making sure that none of my behaviour was girly. I didn’t want to be feminine and risk being called “gay” or “queer” by my classmates. When I noticed that I was making friends with the girls and not the boys, I changed my friends. When I noticed that I sat in a way that the girls did, I changed how I sat. When I didn’t understand why I couldn’t go to the girl’s health class in 4th grade, I internalized it to mean that there was a hard separation between genders that could never be breached. When I realized that I felt most comfortable with the girls, when I would find alone spaces to cry because I couldn’t use the girl’s changing rooms, when I realized that I was the only boy who would stand up to the girl bullies because I felt no “male chivalry” towards them, it scared me. When we would have gym class and I would see the girls play ball or lift weights or climb rope and all I could do was to wish that I could be them, I buried that down in myself.

    I spent years of effort and built myself up as a man. Sure, I’m the man who can’t fix any appliance, who asks his wife to cook meat for him, who stays inside with the women to talk and bake when the men go outside to grill or throw things around, who does the dishes & cleaning, who was looking forward to staying at home with the kids, who wasn’t comfortable having sex when I had to thrust inside of somebody, but I was still the man. I built a life, a family, and I’ve loved it, despite the repeated gnawing doubts that something deep inside me was off. It’s now much later, and I’ve run out of ability to lie to myself. I don’t dare go any further than admitting the truth to myself because I care more about my wife and my family than I do about my own happiness. My life was built on a lie that I didn’t realize that I was a lie until far too late, and now I have to live with the consequences. It could all come crashing down around me with one misplaced statement, one errant mistake, one accidental pronoun slip, one ill-timed bout of body hatred. Even the fact that I’ve started thinking about gender differently in the last few years has been enough of a difference in my life that several people in my family have commented negative on it. At my age, it would be easier for one of us to die. I don’t want the love of my life, who loves all of my “quirks” as we call them, who doesn’t agree with much of what is in the trans* community thinks, to have the impression of me that would come with admitting to everybody what I now admit to myself.

    You’re young. Don’t build your life up on a lie. Be who you are, find those who love that about you, and build a life on truth.


  4. Raven

    It is very hard to be yourself, to love yourself after many years of being held back. If you learn to love yourself again your pain will decrease and you will be able to tell yourself the truth. I am in a very similar situation, I have lied to myself for years and am just starting to love myself.
    Trust me, with love all things are possible.
    ‘Loveability’ by Robert Holden really helped me if you are looking for a place to start.


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