Tomboy (1985 film)

It was almost two years ago when I first wrote “A Tomboy By Any Other Name”. I debated the finer points of whether I was a tomboy and concluded that I needed to explore the issue more. This is my Tomboy Acceptance Speech (and, conveniently, the name of this blog post).

November was, in many ways, life changing for me. I posted earlier how I’d settled on the name Tristen. Deploying for Hurricane Sandy has put a number of transition goals in reach, at least financially. Then, during my trip home over Thanksgiving I met up with a guy I went to paramedic school with. In the run up to our meeting up, he was very upfront about being single. He knows quite well that I had a super mega crush on him when we were in school together. Oh, you do know he’s gay, right? I thought he might be eager to meet up with me again (we haven’t seen each other in 5 years, but stay in touch on Facebook) because he was attracted to me. Do I disclose or not? I decided that I had little to lose if it didn’t go well with him so disclosure it was.

Of course I have this scripted as him expressing an interest in me and me being like “Look I’m about to hit a really gender queer phase, but if you’re cool with that so am I.” or something close to it. It never happened, though he wants to see me again at Christmas so he might just be taking his time. But it was definitely a bold step for me.

The place I’m trying to get to is that we met up at an indoor go kart place I was familiar with from my days of living there. I use the phrase go kart, because it’s commonly understood, but you have to understand these aren’t your father’s go karts. They top out at 35 MPH; you have to wear a full helmet, neck collar and protective jacket. You get the point.

In that moment, the one where I pushed the accelerator as far down as it would go, I remembered how much I loved racing on that track – long before I started down the path to transition. That I’m not the best at it doesn’t matter – though I was doing really well until I took one turn too hard and spun out. Do it right and you feel like you’re going to fall out of the kart in the turns – you get the point. It’s fast, it’s loud and it’s all about adrenaline. I can tell you it was the most aggressive I’ve been, well in as long as I can remember. My tomboy moment of truth!

In the end I didn’t feel any less female, though I certainly affirmed my tomboyishness. In fact, roaring down the straightaway and loving the aggressive/dominant feelings that were flooding over me, I knew I’d found my tomboy moment of truth. Thus, my acceptance speech.

I am a tomboy. I am female, I’m not the most girly girl I know, but then neither are the other tomboys (cis that they are) that I call my friends. But we are female, regardless of how we all ended up here. Its one thing to believe in the path before you, but knowing it is a whole different level. It’s time now to own it.

Confronting my self-acceptance as I have has definitely pushed me along the path. I’d always been open about my love of all things Chris with my partner. Binary biased that he is, he’s always insisted I was gay. I don’t know that he fully believes it, but he’s started connecting the dots as it were. I’ve insisted I’m not gay, that I’ve known what I was since I was 13 and it’s not gay. He insists I’m closeted, I tell him right forest, wrong tree and that “just because I haven’t come out to you, doesn’t mean I haven’t come out”.

Waiting for a patient he finally decided on the cliché, that if I love Chris and I’m not gay, I “must be a woman trapped in a man’s body.” That we argued about a men working sign before that and I kept asking why it needed to be gender based and admitted that reading a bunch of feminist writing may not have been the best thing leading up to the argument may not have helped. He kept asking why do I care so much, why is this important to me? So I think he finally put all the pieces together.

He insisted on calling me Betty (before the letter writing starts, understand we trade insults all the time), so I retaliated by telling a patient my name was Tristen and his was Cletus (it’s not). You can get away with that with Alzheimer’s patients I suppose (don’t judge). I think it was the next patient we had where I introduced myself as Tristen that really tipped the scales. It was a wild moment for me to. It was easy the first time, and it’s not like I don’t go by Tristen with my doctors, but the first time was retaliating against my partner. The next time was a moment of truth, I can only describe the feeling of falling off a cliff when the patient asked me my name and I paused, to be fair I’d been debating using Tristen at work as it was, before saying “My name is Tristen”, what came next was the euphoria of avoiding hitting the rocks at the bottom of the cliff.

Crass that my partner is, somehow we ended up in a discussion of trans* sexuality- why is it always about sex with cis people – before the end of the shift and there seems to be a 50/50 split on whether it’s gay or not (grr) between the couple of co-workers he brought it up with. All I know is my next working day will be at the very least interesting. I will push forward with using Tristen with patients, I admit to nothing else publicly, but I think that the doors of that closet are opening at work. I’m not afraid, but at the same time I have no idea where it’s going to take me.