Inside Out This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     I remember growing up pretty clearly. I remember how much I lovedplaying with Barbies and dressing up. I remember all my best friends and how boys I tended to fancyalways got cooties before they could touch me. My male friends always got a cootie shot so that Icould play with them without harm. I remember how much fun I had climbing trees and fighting in mudand being the captain of a pirate ship made of branches. I did everything masculine as feminine aspossible. It was pretty impressive, or so I’m told.

I don’t know when I startedto hate dresses. I just know that around the time I was seven, I told my mother I was sure I wouldbecome a guy. It’s awfully cute to hear that from a child, and my parents figured I justwanted to be like my brother, since he was my idol. People said it was normal - the tomboyattitude, the baggy clothes, the idolization of guys that made people often tell my mother whatadorable sons she had. It was a phase that everyone thought I’d grow out of.

I’mnot sure why I always felt so close to men. I don’t know why I felt more like a boy than agirl my entire life. I don’t know a lot of things. All I know is that after talking with apsychologist, I was diagnosed with gender identity disorder. There was some talk about it, abouthow I’d have to go through years of therapy and be approved for hormones if I didn’tbecome happy with my gender. Once I started therapy I’d be categorized as a“female-to-male transgender.” The label felt degrading. I felt so different all of asudden, and so alone. I didn’t know if I’d ever meet anyone like me, or if I’dever get to be normal. Surgery wasn’t something I wanted, but if avoiding it meant I had tolive a lie, I didn’t know what I’d choose.

I don’t want to tell my family.I have yet to start the therapy because of it. I don’t want to tell anyone, really, but Iknow I need to talk about it. A few select friends, my girlfriend, and her parents know. I feltmore comfortable talking about it with my girlfriend’s parents because her father is aminister and her mother was a counselor at one point. I felt like they could give the best adviceand not tell anyone my secret. The people who know have been supportive and helpful for the mostpart, and I’ve started to read books and chat online with people who are like me. Of course,with every positive person, there will always be a negative, and going into these rooms online hasmade me see that more than anything else. It’s hard to try and be yourself only to be calleda “freak” or “immoral.”

The “phase” is still going. HereI am, almost 17. I’m getting good grades, I have plenty of friends, and I’m happy forthe most part. I still wear baggy clothes and do things that mostly only boys do. My motherdoesn’t know why, she assumes it’s just my rebellious nature finding itself in my dressand actions. She doesn’t know why I’m searching for a therapist - three years oftherapy in order to get permission to find your true body needs to be started as soon as possible,really. I don’t know why I’m still so afraid to tell her. I still don’t know howshe’ll respond. So I keep quiet, I pretend I’m fine and healthy, and I make it seemlike I’m all right being dubbed a woman.

It amazes me how much people identify withflesh. When they look at your body, they see a girl and they try to make sure you’re stickingto society’s gender roles. They make sure you know that if you’re a girl you flock tothe bathrooms, you wear make-up, you shop, and you do all those things girls are supposed to love.If you’re a boy, you’re supposed to like sports and women, and you’re supposed todo everything that has become associated with male society. If you dare to be different,you’re looked at as weird and are teased or shunned for it. I’m afraid of tellingpeople that though they look at me and see a woman, I’m really a man deep down. I’mafraid of how they’ll react. Sometimes I just wish people wouldn’t see me for my fleshand what I look like. Sometimes I think people might understand if they could just see me - if theycould just see me from the inside out.



Editor’s Note: In response to thispiece, Colby College professor Jennifer Boylan, author of She’s Not There: A Life in TwoGenders, writes: “Being transgendered is not all that uncommon. It’s estimated toaffect about 1 in every 350 people, and is more common than multiple sclerosis. It is unfortunatethat people believe so many things about this condition that are simply not true: it is not achoice; it doesn’t have anything to do with who you are attracted to; and it’s notabout clothes or behavior. It’s a very profound and deep-rooted sense of self that people whoare not born transgendered find hard to imagine. The most important thing transgendered people cando is learn to be articulate about what they feel, so that they can turn to the people they lovefor help and support. Like anything else, all of this is made easier when the person suffering fromthis condition has the support of family and community.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Bethani said...
Mar. 24, 2010 at 8:19 pm
wow! this is inspiring. i didn't realize how hard people judge others.
 
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