Saturday, February 8, 2014

Reindeer Games

My childhood was probably not so different from most of my readers.  I knew I was different- and I figured out why by the time I was four.  So like many of my readers, I carried my secret for most of my life.

But growing up as a boy, there were certain rites of passage, especially at recess.  Like Dodgeball, kickball, baseball, and football.  Oh, and the various full contact versions of Tag.

The idea on the playground or the streets of the neighborhood was simple- to prove you're a man- not some queer or worse: a girl.  No fear.  No pain.  Dish it out.  Take it.  "Don't be a pussy."  There was a definite pecking order.

I know for some who have met me, the idea that I was once short and slight is really odd.  But I graduated high school 5'6" tall and 118 pounds.  I was an undersized child, and puberty hit me very late.  I graduated college in 1989 at my current height of 6'1" and 136 pounds.  Yes, I was quite skinny.  It wasn't until well into the 1990's that I started gaining weight, mostly from working out and drinking beer.  I began to look rather formidable.  Not too good for a future woman.

Too tall?  Too heavy?

But back on the playground, I was chosen absolutely last for every game.  I was a runt- small and uncoordinated.  About the only games I had any talent were dodgeball and baseball.  In dodgeball, I'd gotten used to ducking my brother's punches and thrown objects, and the rocks of the older neighborhood boys.  A rubber ball?  Piece of cake.  Baseball I can't explain.  I couldn't catch or run, but I could always hit.  I rarely struck out or flied out.  It was the only reason I stayed with little league for three summers- I liked hitting.  I was still the last chosen though.

Digression:  it wasn't until college that I was chosen first for something.  My fraternity had a drinking contest which involved two teams chosen playground style.  the contest involved finishing a pony keg of beer and a fifth of tequila.  We called it the "Mexicali Blues." I was chosen first on my team (and second overall) due to my amazing capacity for drinking hard liquor.  I can't tell you how good I felt being chosen first for something.

None of this should be surprising to anyone who grew up a boy.  That's the way Males were socialized when I was growing up, and I'll bet it's the way it was a hundred years before and is still today.  We are taught to be tough- be Men.  Anything feminine is to be rejected and shunned.  In fact, even associating with girls was frowned upon until puberty hits.  Then, if you didn't have sisters you have absolutely no idea how to deal with those scary and oh so alien creatures.

So therein was the problem:  I was a girl inside.  I didn't WANT to get tackled on the asphalt playing tackle tag, or be beaned in the head playing dodgeball.  Never mind that whole "fighting" thing.  But non-participation was not an option.  if I didn't want to be mercilessly picked on (more than usual) then I had to play.

Women are socialized differently (duh) and this is one of the biggest disadvantages we as Transgenders face.  We don't get the education from our peers and prior generations.  I'd say that being a woman is more an art than a science, while being a man is more science than art.  A man's education is meant to toughen them against future trials and to above all be a MAN.

So now, decades later, I must learn what it takes females a lifetime to learn:  the Art of being a Woman.  For me, it's a crash course.  Some things I'll never know or experience, physical things like childbirth for example.  Nor will I ever experience what it means to be a teen girl, or be a woman in her 20s or 30s.  I can only be the best woman I can be.

It's one of the toughest challenges I've ever faced, second only to that of raising my Daughter.

I look forward to it.


Presenting at Keystone 2013.  Pic by Cassandra Storm

PS:  I will be presenting at the 2014 Keystone Conference.  I'll be doing the all new version of "Writing Transgender Fiction:  Releasing your Inner Person"  Thursday March 27th at 9:00 AM.  Come sit in, have a LOT of fun, and maybe learn a little something!

1 comment:

  1. It's a process. Maybe we never learn it fully but we move forward with it each day.