I like to think of myself as just like anyone else. I go to school, I work hard on my assignments, and I don’t do anything too extraordinary. I am very bland and as someone who is such, I expect the life that is to be associated with that. However, being transgender does not always afford me the opportunity. While I know that this is a noteworthy characteristic about me, I have spent the good part of four or so years dealing with conflict over my gender, from ignorant remarks to full-on harassment. One of the worst experiences is being outed, which a group of middle schoolers reminded me of while I was walking home one day.
The perpetrator was my friend's younger brother, who frequently that fall of my junior year would walk with his friends through a neighborhood behind the middle school. This group of kids would bound down the street, shoes slapping against the concrete, and my friend’s brother would laugh and joke. One day he spotted me, watching them from across the street as I walked home and he called out to me. “Hey ***! How are you?” I cringed at his use of my birth name, but I tried to ignore it with a tight smile.
“Fine, how are...”
“Oh, wait, sorry, it’s something else now, right? You’re like a boy now, right?”
Before I could reply, one of his companions beat me to it.“Wait, what? For real? That’s a girl?!”
“I thought that was a boy!” another one interjected.
The group of six middle-schoolers began to squabble and stare at me, perplexed and in shock that I was transgender. I didn’t like being gawked and laughed at, but despite my embarrassment they continued like I was cheap amusement.
When one boy made a particularly rude comment, one of his friends said to me with a cheeky smile,” Oh ignore him, that’s just how he is.” She said it jokingly, as if her friend's rudeness was an aspect of him that I was supposed to find charming. I didn’t. And this kid in particular, Samuel, I later learned, didn’t find me pleasant either. I ignored his eyes on me as he watched me hurry down the street to the main road.
Some weeks later, when the leaves had all fallen, and sun and warmth was left to sink into the cold hard muck of the ground and freeze under a chilling grey sky, I was walking home again as usual, along the side of the middle school. Next to me were my friend's younger brother and his companions. I didn’t say anything as I walked, but when Samuel saw me, he moved away and cackled to his friends, “Look, it’s that trans! You’re trash! I don’t approve of you!” I didn’t approve of him either, but his friends seemed to, as they remained quiet, complacent in his laughter, although my friend’s younger brother tried in vain to get him to stop.
Ignoring the kid, I asked my friend's younger brother, “Hey, what’s that kid’s name?”
“Oh, it’s Samuel. He’s just a jerk.”
“And his last name?”
“I don’t know.”
“Oh! But his grade then?”
“He’s an eighth grader, I think. Look, I’m sorry-”
It wasn’t, but he didn’t have to know what I was going to do. I had learned that administrators in general did not appreciate back-talking to harassers. For the sake of preserving your victimhood, it was preferred that you say and do nothing, which was what I did. I needed this to be taken care of. It was very important to me to walk home without people saying gross things to me. So, I said goodbye to my friend's little brother and walked off ahead of him and his group. Little did the laughing boy behind me know that I was to report him to the middle school the next day, and the police would be watching him for the rest of the year.