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Why Do I Always Have to Be a Boy?

October 27, 2017

I was 15 the first time I can remember waking up and being conscious of how very unlike a boy I felt in that moment. And when I thought more about it, I found plenty of times when teenage Twig “Sissypants” Anthony just couldn’t figure out how to be a boy that day. Or week. Or month. I didn’t have a name for the feeling, and it didn’t feel unnatural, so as impossible as it may sound to an outsider, I don’t find it very surprising that I hadn’t been consciously aware of the feeling for years. Something natural can’t be made to feel unnatural until an outside force makes us aware. So maybe it was because I was excited to wake up for cross-dress day at high school (aside: yes, that was a very popular school-wide part of Spirit Week). I was a freshman, and I was super into my outfit. I didn’t know that I was supposed to do my worst at imitating a girl. I did my goddamned fucking best. And I looked stunning.

Stop.

Can we just stop for a fucking second look at how ingrained cisnormative bias is in American culture? It’s not alright that a school in this country would ever sanction an event that is entirely founded upon laughing at the genderqueer community. It’s not alright that as a teenager, I didn’t see a damn thing wrong with this. It’s not alright that a school endorsed the event that ultimately led to me getting dragged down a crowded hallway on my ass by hair. It’s not aright that calling someone “tranny” isn’t a crime because the LGBTQ community, to this day, is not a federally protected class of citizens in this country. Instead, treating other human beings with a shred of fucking decency is left to state and local governing bodies.

Someone, somewhere, someday will find an example to argue against this. So I’ll head that argument off at the pass and say that saying events like cross-dress day are okay because that day allowed me to dress like a girl for the first time and to do so in public also means acknowledging that events like that implicitly advocate transphobic attitudes. Don’t try to pretend for a second that cross-dress day is a celebration of the genderqueer community. It’s as much a celebration of the genderqueer community as would be having blackface day to celebrate the African American community (although I’m sure there are still some segregated schools who’d love to try that).

I made my first online friend later that year in a forum for LGB (there was no T or Q [or I or A or +] in the acronym at the time) youth. I asked her to call me Ashley, mostly because I currently had a crush on an English boy named Ashley. She was kind to me, and she asked me questions about how I felt, or about life, and she told me she was afraid at her school across the state because rumors were starting about her having a girlfriend. I asked her if she ever woke up and felt like someone else, and she said she didn’t. She liked having boobs, she said, and found it perfectly natural that sometimes, I might like to have boobs, too. I remember spending a long time thinking about this and wondering whether if I had boobs, I would start to like girls. I mean, fuck, I was born with all my man-bits and liked guys, so couldn’t I be so genderfucked that if I had boobs, I’d like girls? In all my musings over this, I became very certain of one thing: I didn’t think I’d feel any less gay if I had boobs, because I never really felt like a girl. I just thought they were pretty, and I liked looking pretty, too. I started to realize that on days I woke up feeling not like a guy, I didn’t either wake up feeling like a girl. I told my online friend this in an email. “Wow. Ash, you really are seriously genderfucked.” It wasn’t an insult. She was just affirming what I’d come to acknowledge about myself: I was an agender sissypants who liked pretty things and who really, really, really liked boys.

And that I was starting to feel a little ashamed of it. I started smoking, and I started burning myself with my cigarettes.

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From → fiction, rubicon

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