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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Transition Thoughts & Reflections - Kiddo

In our last guest post, I asked you to imagine yourself as a 17 year old in the year, 1937, and questioning the gender you were born with. You got to read the thoughts of someone who was 17 years old in 1937.

Today's guest post is from someone who is currently a 17 year old. Born female, but questioning that.

"C" wrote me a few weeks ago and signed the email, "Confused". I asked "C" to share a few thoughts with us about being 17 and questioning gender.

If you would like to contact "C", you can go here to find an email address. You can also comment on the T-Central Facebook page. The link is at the bottom of this page.

Finally, before we get to "C's" guest post, I want to mention that I also received an email last week from a 15 year old, born a male but questioning gender. It really is not for me to offer advice other than the opinion of a parent, yet my heart goes out for those who are around the age of puberty and questioning their gender. Indeed, I can get very emotional about this subject, since I was there once. There is help out there. Lori D is on the Board of Directors of Transmentors. I encourage anyone questioning their gender to take a look at this site. If you wish to contact Lori, you can do so via an email to me.

- Calie

Male, Female, or "Kiddo"?

A lot of my earliest memories are pretty typical- learning to ride a bike, starting school, trick-or-treating for the first time, and so on. But I wasn’t a very typical kid. When I look back on these memories, I think about how I had such an internal struggle with my gender identity during each of them. I remember not giving it my all when learning to ride because my bike was pink, how my parents let me wear boy’s clothes on the first day of school and how remarkable it felt, the feeling of dressing up in male costumes on Halloween and PASSING with flying colors. I’ve never really expressed my gender identity issues with anyone other than a few people online, so I was unsure of how to respond when I was asked to write this. I suppose I’ll be honest and take you though my life thus far.
A lot of my early memories took place in Japan. We didn’t live on base, so our blue eyed and blond haired family got stared at habitually. Some who spoke English would even make comments, “She’s so pretty!” At four years old, I thought this was a joke, and a vindictive one at that. I would correct them, “You mean handsome.” A baffled expression would mask their faces. I didn’t get it. I was a boy, so why were people using female pronouns? It loved being mistaken for a boy but my confidence would be shot down the instance someone would correct them. I hated hearing the female pronouns. I would always beam when someone would refer to me as “kiddo.” Kiddo just meant I was a kid; it didn’t apply to a specific gender. It just made me feel like I was a person, not having to identify or conform to anything.
As I got a little older, I realized that I was a girl. At least, according to biology I was. I didn’t know about being transgender or gender identity or anything. I thought there were boys and girls, and that the world was playing a malicious and bizarre trick on me. The word “girl” haunted me day and night. When I thought about the future, I saw myself as a father, a firefighter with a beard who played hockey in his spare time. I thought I’d change into a male eventually. Somebody, I don’t know who, made a mistake. Looking back at pictures of my childhood, I see a little boy. Shaggy blond hair, fire trucks, bugs, dirt, and swim trunks with no shirt.
I grew up a little, but I still had an irrational piece of hope entrenched in my brain that said “you’ll grow up to be a man.” I looked and carried myself in a typical boy form until third grade or so. Before third grade, kids didn’t see it as a matter of concern. They liked me for who I was and that’s all that mattered, what was below my waste did not. When we all started getting a little older the daunting question was recurrently asked by strangers, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Being asked wasn’t the difficulty, the answer was. I knew I was a girl but admitting it was hard. Saying I was a boy wasn’t true, so what could I say? Could I explain myself and how confused I felt? I went another route. I said nothing and cried about it later. Classmates and friends knew their gender identity and were confused why I did not. “Why do you look and dress like a boy if you’re a girl?” I loathed the fact that they knew I was a girl, and even more so that it mattered to them.
Conforming was the only thing I knew how to do. I grew my hair out and switched to unisex clothes that were from the girl’s section at least. I passed as a tomboyish girl and went on with my life. I sometimes spoke about how I liked boy things even though I was a girl, but nothing deeper than that. My parents reassured me that there was nothing wrong with that, society shouldn’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t like. They explained that I could be a firefighter, play hockey, horse around, and be myself. Although heartening, I wanted to do these things as a boy. I was too embarrassed to express it though. I didn’t think there was anyone else like me.
Life went on without anything too problematic happening. I still felt uncomfortable with my body, but I was loved and supported by my parents and that’s all that mattered to me. I would wear my brother’s clothes and skateboard around the neighborhood. I would pass. It was like an escape or getting some sort of fix to stay sane. I still got to be myself but it wasn’t enough. I longed for a body that matched my mind. When I had fantasies in my head, I was a boy named Jack. Jack became my alter ego and made things a little easier. I would replay instances from my life in my head as Jack, and make up new stories as well. I would get so lost in my daydreams that coming back to reality often felt like an enormous slap in the face. I looked forward to going to bed and time spent alone so I could create more stories of how I felt my life should be. It was a nice escape for a while, until I realized none of it would ever happen.
Now I was twelve years old, and puberty hit me like a semi truck. I felt extremely out of place, like a kitten growing up to be a whale. It seemed like there was no turning back. I had my hair in my face and baggy clothes to hide behind. I wasn’t very social in middle school, not because I’m shy, but because I didn’t feel like I could be myself. Kids in middle school are harsh, so telling people about my confusion wasn’t even an option for me.
I carried on living as Jack in my head and hating who I was. I flipped on the TV one day and there was an episode of Tyra about transgender children. Transgender? I didn’t know the word existed. There was a boy on the show who was just like me. He was twelve years old, born female, but identifying as a male. He talked about binders, his father not accepting him, testosterone, and how he felt he was male from a young age. I was astounded that I was not alone. Ever since I saw that episode, I have watched and read everything pertaining to gender identity that I can.
Now, I’m seventeen years old. I still daydream about being a male and Jack still exists. I dress like a girl and there are some typical teenage girl things I enjoy doing, but that doesn’t mean I feel female. As I start coming out of my awkward pubescent stage of adolescence, I’m a little more comfortable with myself. If I could choose what gender I was born with, it would be male. No question about it. But I’m starting to realize I would probably be the same person no matter what my gender is, so I try to focus on loving who I am. There are times when I want to go back six years or so, tell my parents everything, go on puberty blockers and change my name. But I can’t now. I still beam with all of the contentment in my being when someone calls me “kiddo.” I feel as if I had been blessed with an internal feeling of glee that says “you belong.”
I look up to people who have the courage to transition, I certainly would not. Thoughts race through my head. What about people in my past? What about my small body structure? I’m only 5 foot three and a little over one hundred pounds. I’m seventeen, but a young seventeen at that, I look around thirteen. Would I ever be able to pass? I worry about my parents, albeit liberal and accepting, I don’t want them to grieve the loss of their only daughter.
I suppose life will go on. Everyone has internal demons, some different than others. I guess I’m alright being a girl; I do enjoy it and feel comfortable sometimes. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s not so bad. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have a gender, and that I could just be. What do I identify as; male, Female, or none of the above? I honestly haven’t got a clue. Maybe I’m still finding myself or maybe I’ll never know.
I guess for now I’ll embrace who I am and enjoy life for all its worth, male, female, or “kiddo.”


  1. Thanks for sharing your story with us, kiddo! What great parents you have. Perhaps seeing a therapist, could help you sort out your gender confusion.

    As for your size and youthful appearance, don't worry about it. There are a couple of transmen in my support group, one of whom almost exactly fits your physical description. He is just starting on his journey. Don't worry about what you look like now. You would be amazed at what the proper balance of hormones can do for your physical appearance. In fact, transmen often benefit to a far greater degree from HRT than transwomen do. Thanks again for sharing your story. All the best to you!

    Melissa XX

  2. Hey Kiddo,
    Wow, for 17 you write much better than many 'adults'I know do. You can have a great career as a writer what ever gender you are. none of us asked for what we got, you can't change your gender any more than you can change the color of your eyes. Just be yourself and you'll do fine. As Melisa said, finding a good therapist can really help and I speak from personal experience.

    Thanks for sharing, El

  3. It's obvious that you've done a lot of thinking about the emotions and identities that go along with your gender, and I really respect that. It also makes me really happy that the most important thing for you seems to be loving yourself and knowing yourself. Keep on exploring your gender and finding what makes you comfortable and happy. It's never too late to transition, and it's also legitimate to never transition, and there are also a bajillion words out there that are neither "boy" or "girl". Living as a girl or a boy doesn't necessarily living as a particular kind of girl or boy. There's space in the world for small guys and butch women and tall girls and bois in dresses-- essentially, there's room in the world for whatever gender you make yours.

  4. Thank you for the feedback!
    I actually do see a therapist, but not for gender reasons. I used to have really bad anxiety and issues with OCD. I've wanted to tell him about my gender identity issues but it's hard for me. Hopefully I can build up the courage one day! I'm thinking maybe about starting a blog to let some feelings out. I made the account but I don't know if I should write.

  5. A lot of people go through waht you do- and there are lots of different answers. I'm going to suggest a forum you might want to check out, it's really accepting of everyone- gender fluid, genderqueer, genderless, and just regular men and women. It might help with finding yourself- but some people never do know. And that's fine, too. :)

  6. @ Gender Fluid Kid

    You can always make your blog private, and just invite people you trust and respect to fill your audience.

    You might take a look at Tumblr. It's not private, but it's a little like a merging of a blog and a social networking site. You can pick and choose who you follow and receive updates from, and I'm pretty sure you can block people you don't like. It seems to be popular with teens and twenty-somethings...I've met lots of gender-questioning people your age there, and they're very supportive of each other.

  7. Thank you for such an eloquent piece. If you do find stuff you can write about, I'm sure I'm not the only one who's looking forward to reading more.

  8. Great post, kiddo! I love that you said you were going to focus on loving who you are. No matter whether you ever transition or not -- and I can see that you have reasons not to -- loving yourself is paramount. And I hope you can continue to express yourself as you feel most comfortable.

  9. That was a great post, very eloquent.

    The bit about how you can do everything you want, but it's not the doing it that you want it's to do it as a boy / man. I feel exactly the same way, just switched 180 degrees.

    BTW I love it when parents call me kiddo (even at 34...).

    All the best,


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