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.