This is some writing I did for school last semester–kind of my own trans history. It’s a story I find myself re-telling a lot. There are these areas in my life where my gender feels both fake and a lie… I find myself trying to validate my transness, digging through stories and looking for those little indicators that somehow I was different. That I’ve always been this way.
I want to tell a story with non-linear chronology. Not just my personal story of gender, but the story of looking/asking/learning for community, role models, history, friendships, self-actualization.
Gender begins the moment we are conceived—not physically, but literally, when our parents begin to wonder if their chromosomes might form a little sugar and spice or a puppy dog tail. Gender exists everywhere, and originates in our minds.
(include childhood pic)
Concepts of naming and claiming, the importance placed on giving names, what our parents almost named us, what we called ourselves, kids who are allowed to chose their own names.
My parents were going to name me Alyssa if I had dark hair and Aimee if it was light. But my black hair turned blonde-ish a few weeks after I was born. Did they feel like they had chosen wrong? Or what about all the names my dad liked, Tiffany, Stephanie, Ashley? Where did those names go? I always wondered what they would have named me if I was assigned male at birth.
Kids are always choosing names for themselves. What would happen if we indulged them in that more?
(I love stories of people like Peekaboo Street, the Olympic skier, who was allowed to name herself as a child. A friend was telling me of a family she knows where all the women are named Sarah at birth, and then allowed to choose whatever name they want to be called when they are four or five.)
What age do you start to worry you are bad at stuff? Maybe 7, 8? This is probably around the time that I became aware that I was doing a bad job at passing, being very genderqueer but not a tomboy. I thought it seemed clear that I was a girl, but by the nature of being the youngest in a family of boys with a busy single mom I had the same haircuts and clothing that my older brothers had. I didn’t mind, and I don’t think my mom did either until more and more often people mistook me for a boy. I remember being really stressed out about. I tried very hard to look more visibly female, probably in about 4th or 5th grade, by growing out my hair and getting my ears pierced. I have a memory of leaving the mall with painful, tender ears and brushing past someone who said “excuse me, young man”. The thing is, I don’t remember that feeling good to me. I don’t remember thinking “that’s right, I’m really a boy”. Instead I just remember how upset it would make my mom.