This picture belongs to me, I scanned it and e...

I love that my therapist gives me homework. What you’ve been reading so far has been an outgrowth of her first homework assignment to try writing a journal to express my feelings about being transgendered. This week’s assignment includes a worksheet about my feelings at different life stages and the steps I took to express, or I guess repress, my gender identity.

As I look back on it, I am thankful my parents were open minded enough to allow my cross gender behaviors to express themselves. I’m pretty sure there was an underlying message in all of that that made it clear asking for, and subsequently wearing an age appropriate dress, especially in public was strictly off limits. In fact I know it was. My mother at one point made it quite clear that if I wanted to continue to wear female clothes I was to get my own (or something like that). It was a long time ago, and my recollection isn’t what likely happened exactly, but I understood it to mean, make out a wish list and it’s yours. I did. It was the early days of computers, but I was savvy enough to create a spreadsheet including prices and the appropriate pages in the JC Penny catalogue (I think my parents still cringe thinking about my love affair with the girl’s section of the JC Penny catalogue). I don’t remember how much time transpired between creating it and my father finding it on his computer, but I do remember having to explain myself to two rather angry parents.

I should have known that would be the outcome. I mean how else would I know enough not to ask about ballet lessons? Again my timeline is a little sketchy, but as a frame of reference it had to be sometime in mid to late elementary school. It was past the leotard incident and before my female cousin moved out of town which came at the beginning and end of elementary school. As you would assume, she was in fact taking ballet lessons. I desperately wanted to take ballet lessons too. I remember reading a book or rather seeing a book, I guess, seeing as how it was long on pictures and short on words. It made it clear that boys didn’t exactly wear leotards, but rather shorts and t-shirts. How else could I explain I wanted to wear a leotard like my female cousin because I too was a girl? Like I said, I knew well enough not to even try to explain it.

Outside of that moment, I have to admit I was allowed pretty much to do as I pleased when it came to expressing myself. Despite what she may have thought, my mother didn’t seem to care as I insisted on painting my nails, playing with the Easy Bake Oven, or even ask I asked for and got my very own doll (including stroller). Nothing was ever said about the time I convinced my cousin to let me wear one of her nightgowns to sleep in. Looking back as an adult I can only imagine the conversations that must have gone on between her and my aunt (her sister).

My therapist also suggested writing, but not necessarily sending, at letter to my parents expressing my feelings. As much as I am grateful that they didn’t keep me from doing things most other parents of boys would have simply refused to allow, that they didn’t deal with their child’s gender issues by “beating the boy into him”. I can’t blame them for doing the best they could raising a child with gender issues during a time that didn’t have the resources today’s parents have. At the same time, it hurts me deeply that they refused to listen to their child who tried to tell them their body was all wrong not once, but three times.

It makes me nothing short of apprehensive on the now fourth go round of trying to explain how horribly traumatic it is to be trying to live in the wrong body. At the core of the issue, it is probably the root of most, if not all, of my fears about transitioning. I want so much to be angry with their refusal to listen to me trying to express my feelings and instead try to “save me”, instead I’m left feeling hurt. The anger is merely the hurt coming out. The hurt of a girl who hardly understood what was happening to her and could barely explain it to the people who were supposed to love her just the way she was.

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