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Growing into My Gender

For me growing up with three brothers was in a word, challenging. For the first 12 years of my life I was so consumed by wanting to be “one of the boys” that I never got into make up or nail polish. I just wanted to fit in which was, at times, impossible.

It was the end of summer and we were on our annual trip to Blue Ledge. Every Labor Day for 4 years my dad had taken my two older brothers backpacking to a beautiful site along the Hudson River. They’d hike in two and a half miles with heavy backpacks filled with food, clothes, tents, and supplies and camp out near the river for 3 days. This was the first year I would be allowed to go. I was 8 years old and the only female of my family to ever go to Blue Ledge. My mother always stayed home. Each year after that, she’d try to persuade me to stay home with her promising spa days and pedicures, but I never wanted any of that. I just wanted to be one of the boys. My parents did their best to make sure I was included in the boys’ games, but in unsupervised times I was the outcast. I was often pushed aside as they rounded up and drove nails through the heads of a plastic Barney toy or one of the Barbie’s my mom had bought me for Christmas that laid, untouched, among piles of socks. I would have gladly joined in on the fun, but usually was forced to sit on the outskirts and watch. I am not the youngest and so I had that on my side, but at 7 years old the baby of the bunch, James, was already bigger and stronger than me which was enough to make me the odd man out. However, lack of size and strength wasn’t my only offense. I was a girl. And a young one at that! It was a grievous thing to be, or so the boys said. For this reason alone I was ostracized many occasions despite my constant effort to fit in and act like one of them. One of the most striking times of being the black sheep was during my first trip to Blue Ledge at the Peeing Rock. The Peeing Rock was a sacred ground. It was highly revered and something the boys looked forward to every year. Ever since my father had first brought my older two brothers, Paul and Matt, to Blue Ledge it had become a well organized tradition. The Peeing Rock was a large boulder about 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide which faced the river. It was nestled into the hillside of the mountain about 60 feet above the water. A narrow path connected to the main trail led down to the top of the boulder which jutted out of the rock face. Standing on top of that rock you could see all the way across the river to the canvas-like ledge that gave the site its name. The ledge on the opposite side was painted with dirt and minerals which gave it a sheen of orange, green, yellow, and most importantly, blue. The Peeing Rock was the favorite spot of all 3 of my brothers, but it wasn’t because of the view. Well, in the rare case that you haven’t guessed already I’ll tell you why it was their favorite. They would pee into the river off of that rock. It was an action which created pride and excitement in their hearts. This seems like a rather ridiculous statement, but if you could’ve seen their faces as they all trampled back to the main trail you would understand. And I was jealous, so very jealous, of that look. I wanted to be able to say that I had peed off the Peeing Rock, but alas nature is a cruel force indeed and it was not possible. Finally something I couldn’t fake. I wasn’t a boy and that was that. Although I am very comfortable with my sexuality and gender there was a time when it held me back from fitting in with my brothers in a way that I longed for. But as we all grew and changed I no longer had cooties and they accepted me as the woman I am. I love my brothers so much and I am so glad to have grown up with such great siblings. I’m not on the outside anymore. They protect me and teach me things about life so now I am in the center and I didn’t have to change for them. I guess we just had to grow up.



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