Growing UP

I grew up in an upper-middle-class conservative family. My parents weren’t very religious but they were staunch republicans and very traditional. All of this was in the sixties and seventies when the world overall wasn’t as open as it is today.

Back then one’s position in society was quite clear. Anyone who wasn’t content with their lot in life was a trouble maker. People that were not “normal” were to be avoided or worse.

This narrow view of acceptable was reinforced constantly. My grandfather, whom I spend a lot of time with, was constantly making very derogatory remarks about anyone who wasn’t a WASP. Everything on TV was very cis heterosexual normative. What little there was in the media on homosexuals was quite negative. Forget about transgender, the word didn’t exist then.

As a very small child I knew who I was. Unfortunately around the age of three that reality was rejected by those that took care of me. I don’t recall the event but I know it was so traumatic that I buried who I was, so deep even I didn’t know it.

When I was around 6 years old the reality of who I am came back. I knew I had a desire to be a girl. But after my experience early , I knew better than to let anyone, even my parents, know about this. At the time I was quite certain that had they found out it would be a ‘one-way ticket to the funny farm’. And the sad part is I would have agreed with them. I thought for sure something was wrong with me.

But I didn’t want to get fixed. Normally if a small child thinks they are hurt or broken they run to their parents to get fixed. Because of all that society had taught me I was sure I was broken, but that didn’t matter, I didn’t want this part of me removed.

I had no idea what it was that made me different. I didn’t have a name for it, neither did the adults. But I knew I was different in a way that was totally unacceptable. Since I didn’t want to get rid of it, this created a rather huge problem for me. I couldn’t let anyone know about it so I hid from it as best I could. I would ignore the feelings, or try to pretend they were not there. I tried to fit in, even though I usually failed miserably. In the process, I buried an important part of who I am. And this impacted my life in many ways.

Kindergarten through about the third grade was fine. At these ages, little kids were allowed to play with whoever they wanted to. I always played with the girls. It was in third grade when I started to realize my wanting to always be with the girls was not the desire of the average boy my age. But I never connected this desire with the part of me I had locked up in the closet. I am guessing because this wasn’t who I was but who I played with. None the less I realized it was odd. I remember very vividly talking to my parents one day at the dinner table. For no particular reason, I started explaining how the other boys were mean to the girls and how I didn’t think that was nice so I was staying with the girls to protect them. I am sure my parents were confused about what their little boy was talking about if they even heard at all.

Unfortunately, my little chivalry’s way of hiding who I was, even from myself, didn’t last too long. It was about the fourth grade when my life took a huge turn for the worse. It was then that the school started enforcing the usual stereotypes of boys were supposed to do boy things and girls were supposed to do girl things. Even worse boys were expected to only play with other boys and so I was stranded in a world I didn’t understand.

These children expected me to be very competitive and when I wasn’t I was belittled. These children expected me to be tough and when I wasn’t they would show me in harsh ways what tough was. They expected me to fit a mold that was as foreign to me as another universe.

The result of this was a horrible childhood from that point forward. I hated going to school. I couldn’t wait till summer came along and summer was never long enough. I constantly longed for the day I would be old enough not to have to go to school and I would use any excuse I could to get out of the bruises that awaited me almost every day.

In all fairness, there were other things that led to my less than wonderful childhood. For quite a number of years, I was a chubby little kid. I also had some learning disabilities that caused me to be held back a couple grades. But as I write this I wonder, were those other things contributing factors to my miserable childhood or were they just the result of my hiding who I was.