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Saturday, April 22, 2017

me, tomboys and transgender. . .

Ok, so this has nothing to do with transgender issues as far as I can tell. I want to make sure it's known though, that I do support trans people and will support however you identify and do what I can to help keep you safe and protect your rights. This post and article aren't really about that. This is more about expanding society's definition of what a girl "is" and is "supposed" to look and act like.

My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy.

I loved reading this because I felt I was this girl when I was little. There are a few differences though. Transgender issues weren't a thing yet in my story - or no one spoke about it. Ever. I was never asked how I wanted to identify. This little girl had a short haircut and picked out her own clothes- I had long hair so the part about being mistaken for a boy really wasn't there and I really can't remember if I picked out my own clothes. I'm pretty sure my mom made sure I matched, though I fought hard not to wear dresses if at all possible. She developed an affinity for ties and blazers, while my uniform then, as now is jeans and a t- shirt. I wore some amazing shoes- I must've won a concession on dress shoes at some point. In at least one photograph, I'm wearing some very brown, chunky, possibly E.T. themed shoes with my pink frilly dress. If I can find a photo, maybe I'll post it.

I'd refuse anything pink with ruffles, ricrac, frills or any other itchy, confining flowery detail. All my friends were boys and we ran around the playground pretending to be animals or making up He Man or superhero themed games (I wasn't a fan of the latter as I'd always get stuck with a lady part and that was always a let down) that involved climbing monkey bars, swinging and jumping off at the highest point and performing pathetic feats of gymnastics that felt like flying to us. Do THAT in a dress! Plus, they'd sing that song" I see London, I see France. . ." and I didn't want to be consumed all day with keeping my underwear covered in a garment that kind of seems DESIGNED to show all your business. I just wanted to play soccer, kickball or this other kicking game I think they called 500 for some reason. Who cared about clothes anyway??

I also loved the part that said the little girl wanted to be the pet or police officer in a game of family- I also tried to get the part as the family pet if I got stuck playing family. Mostly my friend and I would abandon the family part and just be cats for the entire indoor recess period. 

Which brings me to the other element of this which nearly intersects somewhat but still misses the transgender issue. One day on the walk out to the playground of my Christian school, an older kid (I assume, I can't remember who now) asked me if I wanted a sex change operation, they can do that now, you know. (The year is 1986 or 1987?) Shock. I had no idea. I was maybe 3rd grade or younger and lived a pretty sheltered and conservative existence up to now. Well. What about that. I'm sure I paused a bit and imagined being a boy because I still entertain funny scenarios while people are talking if something strikes me, but I answered (possibly silently) the same way I answered any question like that about changing myself- do you wish you were taller? why don't you talk? don't you have anything to say? I told them I was fine with what I had, most likely. It's equally likely I didn't say a word, but my mind was going 100mph and I knew what I thought. This was before puberty, so there was a lot less self doubt! But I guess they assumed what that teacher in the article assumed, that because I dressed and played how they thought boys dressed and played and played with mostly boys that I must be unhappy with who I am and want to look like the group I chose. It was the first time I became partially almost aware that I'm playing a game I didn't know existed and I don't know what the rules are- I couldn't articulate that til much later of course- but suffice it to say, I was made aware of a difference. My thinking was obviously that I already play with boys and wear jeans and t-shirts, so why would I want to be a boy, what's to be gained? It's not necessary. Maybe that question would have been difficult if I'd been strictly forbidden to do the things I was most interested in- or if for instance I felt I WAS a boy.

While I appreciate that teacher's sensitivity in the article, I really do, I'm progressive too- my assessment is that people are still, in general wholly devoid of imagination and stuck in some really antiquated ridiculously narrow binary gender stereotypes.

**I want to make it extra clear that this is not to say all transgender people are just tomboys or that I would in any way support the position that how you "should" identify is only determined by your physical genitalia- as though I have any idea what you feel or any authority to tell you who you are. 

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