So a couple weeks back I posted about being trans and as I mentioned, there were things I didn’t get to. And of course as soon as it was up, I realized there were things I didn’t talk about that I should have. So welcome to the second installment of me talking about one part of myself. This time not covering as much ground, but getting a bit more into some details. Also I’m sure this won’t be the last post on the matter.
First up and I can’t believe I didn’t include this, was how/when I knew I was trans. Like when was I first aware that oh hey, who I am and who people think I am isn’t matching. I’m not sure when I was first aware of it to be honest. My earliest memory of it is standing in my kindergarten classroom wondering “Why does everyone keep calling me a boy?”. I’m sure it hit me before then, but that’s my earliest memory of it. Five year old me wondering why I was being called someone I’m not. I’m not sure why it was right then that I remember.
If you’re wondering, and I don’t blame you if you are, how I forgot that the first time around, familiarity. It’s something I’ve mentioned before so many times, I forget there are people who don’t know. Also with so much to talk about, that I want to pay attention, it just sort of slipped through the cracks. Oops.
Now it wasn’t just that I was wondering why everyone kept calling me a boy that was an issue back then. I had to deal with things like being told to go play with the boys during break time, while wondering why I’m being told to play with the boys. To say nothing of the fact that playing with boys was kind of boring to me. Unless it was tag, freeze tag or red light green light, playing with boys just didn’t do it for me. It was more fun playing with the other girls. For one, it was collaborative and cooperative, it wasn’t about good vs bad or beating someone else out or some sort of recreation of those things. Plus I could interject my own creativity into it. Alas, I found myself being told to go play with the boys and as time went on it happened more and more until I just couldn’t play with girls at all.
That I just wanted to play with the girls wasn’t however the thing that would most or could most have been a huge clue something was up. That would’ve been what happened when we were told to line up with boys in one line and girls in other. If the teacher said “girls over here and boys over there”, I’d just start heading to where the girls were told to go. If the teacher flipped it around? I’d just started heading to where the girls were told to go. If we were told to lineup alternating girls and boys, I’d go stand between two boys. Because we’re supposed to alternate girl and boy. It was something that happened without any thought on my part. No thinking “I’m going to go stand with the girls because I want to be with them” when it came to lining up with girls. Just me going where I was told to go.
Of course each time it happened I’d get corrected and I’d go to the other line or change my place. And it did get to where I was told to listen better because it happened again. But I was listening, I was going to where I was told to go. An instance of that could well be why I was standing there wondering why everyone kept calling me a boy. Or could’ve been being told to go play with the boys. Or something else.
I did eventually come to in effect condition myself to deal with it. Before heading off to stand in line, I’d wait a second and see where the boys were going. Then I’d go there to stand with them. Granted it might make me look like I was waiting for no reason or something, but hey I’m going to where the teacher thinks I should. So that was better. Of course there was having to deal with the fact that my delay left me to end up one of the last to line up. Even if I could’ve been one of the first. And so often ending up towards the back of a line wore on me. Being up front meant you got to go first, if you were playing a game or something have a chance to name your side and so on. Way in back, you just have to wait and don’t get much say so about things.
Now my little bit of self-conditioning wasn’t foolproof. I had plenty of cases of heading off to line up with girls before it would hit me “other line”. And this would continue though first grade and later. Course as time went on there was less lining up girls in one line boys in another, so less chance to end up heading to the “wrong” line. Not that it didn’t stop. I can recall it happening in fifth grade. And the last time it happened, was in high school. Of course when you go ages without lining up girls here, boys there, the old conditioning slips away.
Then there was something that wasn’t really school specific though it would be a bit of an issue in high school. From fairly early on I never really liked being without a shirt on around other kids. I just didn’t quite like it. I would put up with it when I went swimming and stuff, but it wasn’t exactly something I much liked. Then when puberty came around, it turned into something stronger. To the point I wouldn’t go swimming at the pool, wouldn’t take my t-shirt off at the beach and so on. My sense of myself was that taking off my t-shirt in public was not something I felt was entirely okay. I didn’t want guy friends let alone strangers seeing me without a t-shirt on.
For the most part it wasn’t an issue, save for a mercifully very few times when playing basketball with friends someone would decide on shirts versus skins (one team with their t-shirts on, the other with them off). And I always ended up on the shirts side. But there was one place where it was an issue or at least required some creativity, my high school locker room. Between two semesters of PE, three years of track and two semesters of pre-season track conditioning work outs, I was in the locker room a lot. Which meant changing in the locker room. And that meant facing having upwards of a few dozen boys see me without a shirt on. Which was not something I wanted.
So to deal with it, I had to come up with a couple things. For PE class since there was no way I was wearing my PE t-shirt under my shirt, I would just duck over to the next row of lockers. No one was using a locker there so it was empty and I’d undo my shirt and put on my t-shirt there. And then after class, same deal. Oh there were a few times when I didn’t do this, just thinking “oh I can manage it, I think”. But nope, just couldn’t get past it.
Track practice and pre-season workouts were easier, not as many guys to avoid. Also I could wear whatever t-shirt I’d wear for practice or to workout in under my shirt. So just get to he locker room, take my shirt off, and done. Easy. Unless I was wearing a turtleneck, in which case had my t-shirt in my backpack. So then it was grab the t-shirt, head to a stall in the bathroom, and change tops there. The reason for heading to the stall was after school the flow into and out of the locker room meant I could never be sure that in the few seconds I needed someone wouldn’t pop up. Also there were coaches coming through. You know, men. And if I wasn’t comfortable with a 15 year old boy seeing me without a top on? There was just no way I’m about to have a man see me that way.
And a last thing, and this pertains to what I mentioned earlier, but also goes for other things, like making up jokes. Part of the issue with playing with boys, especially when it came to things like playing with G.I. Joes or Transformers, was a matter of frame of reference. The boys had this somewhat shared frame of reference to inform the scenes we’d play out. I never had that frame of reference, so I was only ever going along with what the boys were doing. They would go back and forth over things and I’d just go along with it.
And as it is for playing, it is for telling jokes, specifically guy jokes. Those jokes that center on guys’ experience, point of view etc. I could laugh at the guy jokes my friends made, but I couldn’t tell similar jokes and be funny with any regularity. My frame of reference, the way I perceive the world, the way I place myself in it, meant I couldn’t just come up with a joke like the guys could. I’d sometimes get it right but not often. There was other material, I did way better with. Thankfully. Also an upside I ended up understanding how jokes work, how jokes are constructed, without having to go learn it. Never bad things to know.
So there you have it, what I didn’t get to the first time around. At least what came to mind. I’m sure there will be more. Because I know things will start coming to mind. It’s just how it goes.