Tomboy & Girly Girl

Tomboy & Girly Girl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I finished the session with my therapist confessing “by any other word I would have been a tomboy”. It was my reaction to her suggesting that letting my hair grow out might help relieve some of the stress while I sort out my feelings about my gender identity. As it is, I do happen to like having my hair short. My hair doesn’t define me as male or female, I’m sure there’s more to it than that and I’ll figure that out later.

My tomboy comment left me wondering, though, “Tomboy? Really? Just how do you know for sure?” Right now, dresses really aren’t my thing. No disrespect to crossdressers, but it’s not about the clothes, for me it’s about having the right body and I’m just not all that excited about dresses. But why? I did do plenty of crossgender things growing up and as I recollect I was allowed to do such things without being told “boys don’t do that”. But did I ever wear a dress and have the external validation of society’s approval for doing it? No.

So can I say with any degree of certainty, had I been allowed to grow up as a girl I would have been a tomboy which is what my reaction to my therapist said? I’d have to say no to that either. Just the same, I don’t think I would have been told “girls don’t do that” when I played with action figures or played “army” with my friends. So I have no real way of gauging what the comments about how pretty I looked in my dress or my friends thinking my new tights were really cute or noticing the reaction of the boys to my new dress, etc. would have done to shape my identity as “not a tomboy”.

As I try to work through my sense of myself, as Regan, I see that being the great unknown. I started out saying it’s not about the clothes, it’s about the body. What about the body, my body? I hate my male body. Don’t get me wrong, I love male bodies, the way they look, the way they feel, all their 2000 parts. I just hate my own body. I am gendered as male, because well I look male, I sound male, and apparently I even act male. I’m not going to get a complex about it because there is nothing about me, at the moment, which suggests anything but male so it’s no one’s fault (maybe my own) that society genders me that way.

It’s not fair to tomboys everywhere to count myself among their ranks. Like I said, I can’t prove or disprove my tomboyness either way. I’ve never been externally validated as anything but a boy. Tomboy isn’t really a label you can apply to yourself, it’s something someone else has to look at you and say “isn’t she just a little tomboy”.

I don’t know any other reason that I’d declared myself a tomboy then the fact that I’d been raised as, well, a boy. There was no alternate pathway for me to follow because it’s not like I had the benefit of being raised as a girl and having my gender conforming (as a girl) behaviors reinforced. I’m not doing myself any favors to hold on to the expectations of an adult tomboy (is there such a thing?) as I work out just who and what Regan is.

I’m not ready to rush right out and let my hair grow to my shoulders and beyond, there are just as many practical reasons for that as anything else. But it does give me something to explore my feelings on as I define who Regan is.