Friday, August 6, 2010

My Generation

The other day my Mom and I were talking about computers and how when she was in high school she actually had to "look stuff up in books."

To me, that's strange. I was born in the 90's. Encyclopedias have taken a back seat to Wikipedia, and being told to "google it" is the new "look in your textbook." I've noticed that I hardly even use my textbooks for information unless I'm in class. At home, I'll look up what I need to know online. Clicking a mouse is a lot easier than flipping pages and searching through indexes.

While I ponder on this, I feel lucky. I think about all of the older transgender adults out there who felt the same way I do right now, but thought they were alone. There were no message boards or online communities full of people to identify with. They didn't flip on the T.V. one day and see an episode of Tyra that featured transgender kids, and then google "transgender" like I did.

People are also more tolerant now. There are gay and transgender kids at my school. No one really looks twice at them. There are still hate crimes against those who are different, but people aren't as afraid to come out.

I fee lucky for all of those before me who paved the way. I'm even happier for the future kids who feel like I do right now. There is more advocacy, programs, and websites about being trans and gender identity than I remember hearing about when I was younger. I hope these kids aren't afraid to come out, I hope the world becomes more tolerant of those who are different than society's norm. My generation will be the parents of these kids, and we're more open minded than the last. And the next will be even more so.

I always wonder what it would be like if I knew about gender identity and being transgender when I was younger. If I knew about puberty blockers. If I knew I wasn't alone and there was a thriving community full of those in my situation. Would I be different? Would I be transitioning right now? No one knows.

But I certainly hope future trans kids are blessed with the knowledge I now possess, and are able to use the offered resources to transition.

So here's to the future. Here's to advocacy.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Little Bit About Me...

I've decided to hop on the blog bandwagon. I guess this can be kind of like an online diary, it'll be good for me to get some feeling out. No one will probably read this but maybe I'll end up meeting people like myself. Who knows?
I wrote a guest post on T-Central about how I'm confused about my gender and a little about who I am. I'll copy & paste it here to introduce myself, if anyone actually ends up reading this, which I doubt.

Male, Female, or “Kiddo”?

A lot of my earliest memories are pretty typical- learning to ride a bike, starting school, trick-or-treating for the first time, and so on. But I wasn’t a very typical kid. When I look back on these memories, I think about how I had such an internal struggle with my gender identity during each of them. I remember not giving it my all when learning to ride because my bike was pink, how my parents let me wear boy’s clothes on the first day of school and how remarkable it felt, the feeling of dressing up in male costumes on Halloween and PASSING with flying colors. I’ve never really expressed my gender identity issues with anyone other than a few people online, so I was unsure of how to respond when I was asked to write this. I suppose I’ll be honest and take you through my life thus far.

A lot of my early memories took place in Japan. We didn’t live on base, so our blue eyed and blond haired family got stared at habitually. Some who spoke English would even make comments, “She’s so pretty!” At four years old, I thought this was a joke, and a vindictive one at that. I would correct them, “You mean handsome.” A baffled expression would mask their faces. I didn’t get it. I was a boy, so why were people using female pronouns? I loved being mistaken for a boy but my confidence would be shot down the instance someone would correct them. I hated hearing the female pronouns. I would always beam when someone would refer to me as “kiddo.” Kiddo just meant I was a kid; it didn’t apply to a specific gender. It just made me feel like I was a person, not having to identify or conform to anything.

As I got a little older, I realized that I was a girl. At least, according to biology I was. I didn’t know about being transgender or gender identity or anything. I thought there were boys and girls, and that the world was playing a malicious and bizarre trick on me. The word “girl” haunted me day and night. When I thought about the future, I saw myself as a father, a firefighter with a beard who played hockey in his spare time. I thought I’d change into a male eventually. Somebody, I don’t know who, made a mistake. Looking back at pictures of my childhood, I see a little boy. Shaggy blond hair, fire trucks, bugs, dirt, and swim trunks with no shirt.

I grew up a little, but I still had an irrational piece of hope entrenched in my brain that said “you’ll grow up to be a man.” I looked and carried myself in a typical boy form until third grade or so. Before third grade, kids didn’t see it as a matter of concern. They liked me for who I was and that’s all that mattered, what was below my waste did not. When we all started getting a little older the daunting question was recurrently asked by strangers, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Being asked wasn’t the difficulty, the answer was. I knew I was a girl but admitting it was hard. Saying I was a boy wasn’t true, so what could I say? Could I explain myself and how confused I felt? I went another route. I said nothing and cried about it later. Classmates and friends knew their gender identity and were confused why I did not. “Why do you look and dress like a boy if you’re a girl?” I loathed the fact that they knew I was a girl, and even more so that it mattered to them.

Conforming was the only thing I knew how to do. I grew my hair out and switched to unisex clothes that were from the girl’s section at least. I passed as a tomboyish girl and went on with my life. I sometimes spoke about how I liked boy things even though I was a girl, but nothing deeper than that. My parents reassured me that there was nothing wrong with that, society shouldn’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t like. They explained that I could be a firefighter, play hockey, horse around, and be myself. Although heartening, I wanted to do these things as a boy. I was too embarrassed to express it though. I didn’t think there was anyone else like me.

Life went on without anything too problematic happening. I still felt uncomfortable with my body, but I was loved and supported by my parents and that’s all that mattered to me. I would wear my brother’s clothes and skateboard around the neighborhood. I would pass. It was like an escape or getting some sort of fix to stay sane. I still got to be myself but it wasn’t enough. I longed for a body that matched my mind. When I had fantasies in my head, I was a boy named Jack. Jack became my alter ego and made things a little easier. I would replay instances from my life in my head as Jack, and make up new stories as well. I would get so lost in my daydreams that coming back to reality often felt like an enormous slap in the face. I looked forward to going to bed and time spent alone so I could create more stories of how I felt my life should be. It was a nice escape for a while, until I realized none of it would ever happen.

Now I was twelve years old, and puberty hit me like a semi truck. I felt extremely out of place, like a kitten growing up to be a whale. It seemed like there was no turning back. I had my hair in my face and baggy clothes to hide behind. I wasn’t very social in middle school, not because I’m shy, but because I didn’t feel like I could be myself. Kids in middle school are harsh, so telling people about my confusion wasn’t even an option for me.

I carried on living as Jack in my head and hating who I was. I flipped on the TV one day and there was an episode of Tyra about transgender children. Transgender? I didn’t know the word existed. There was a boy on the show who was just like me. He was twelve years old, born female, but identifying as a male. He talked about binders, his father not accepting him, testosterone, and how he felt he was male from a young age. I was astounded that I was not alone. Ever since I saw that episode, I have watched and read everything pertaining to gender identity that I can.

Now, I’m seventeen years old. I still daydream about being a male and Jack still exists. I dress like a girl and there are some typical teenage girl things I enjoy doing, but that doesn’t mean I feel female. As I start coming out of my awkward pubescent stage of adolescence, I’m a little more comfortable with myself. If I could choose what gender I was born with, it would be male. No question about it. But I’m starting to realize I would probably be the same person no matter what my gender is, so I try to focus on loving who I am. There are times when I want to go back six years or so, tell my parents everything, go on puberty blockers and change my name. But I can’t now. I still beam with all of the contentment in my being when someone calls me “kiddo.” I feel as if I had been blessed with an internal feeling of glee that says “you belong.”

I look up to people who have the courage to transition, I certainly would not. Thoughts race through my head. What about people in my past? What about my small body structure? I’m only 5 foot three and a little over one hundred pounds. I’m seventeen, but a young seventeen at that, I look around thirteen. Would I ever be able to pass? I worry about my parents, albeit liberal and accepting, I don’t want them to grieve the loss of their only daughter.

I suppose life will go on. Everyone has internal demons, some different than others. I guess I’m alright being a girl; I do enjoy it and feel comfortable sometimes. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s not so bad. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a gender, and that I could just be. What do I identify as; male, Female, or none of the above? I honestly haven’t got a clue. Maybe I’m still finding myself or maybe I’ll never know.

I guess for now I’ll embrace who I am and enjoy life for all its worth, male, female, or “kiddo.”

Hopefully that told a little about who I am. Thank you for reading (if anyone did) and I look forward to writing more.