Thursday, December 31, 2015

Some Girls

Just my luck I had four older brothers growing up. It wasn’t all bad, I learned a lot about being a teenager from them, like how to be competitive, throw parties, buy booze, fight acne, and date girls, plus I also had access to their porn stash. At summer camp during junior high, I was known for my ability to draw incredibly realistic nude woman, which I had copied from issues of Penthouse and Playboy magazine. I also had two sisters, and would cut out photos from their cherished Cosmo and Seventeen magazines, as well as ads for lingerie from The New York Times Magazine, the one with the crossword puzzle my dad completed every Sunday.

As a young trans girl I was fixated and enthralled by pictures of women and pasted their images in a notebook that I kept under my mattress, next to few porn magazines, a copy of Are There you God, it’s me Margaret, stolen from the school library, and items of women’s clothes, hiding them and my desires from my family, living in fear of being found out.

The stowed away garments usually included bras and panties
borrowed from my mother and two sisters and the colorful catalogs and glossy magazines provided me an abundant amount of examples to admire. I learned about style, shape, and size. I also noticed how lingerie fit and looked on different body types. Unfortunately, none of the women look like me, or I didn’t look them. Either way, puberty was inevitable, and when it finally happened, the fury of testosterone coursing through my blood felt like a runaway train going in the wrong direction. My body betrayed me, and confusion and anxiety about my identity firmly took hold for the next 30 years.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

High School Reunion

WARNING: This essay contains information about a suicide attempt which may be triggering to some.
Out-of-blue a few weeks ago I received a message on Facebook from a high school classmate from thirty years ago.  She was on the reunion committee and had a question about nametags for our upcoming 30th reunion. She asked if it would be okay if they used my high school graduation picture from the yearbook, like they do for most reunion attendees, or would I prefer something more recent that reflects who I am now. I was touched by her kindness and sensitivity.  It may not seem like a big deal to many, but to me, a transgender person, it meant the world.  I thanked her for inquiring, and asked, “Can I think about it?”
So last Friday I went to my 30th high school reunion. This wasn’t the first reunion I had been to; in fact I think I’ve attended all the others leading up to last week’s, but it was the first time attending openly as a woman. 

Football Captains Then
Thirty-one years ago, during the fall of my senior year, I played my last football game.  It was the Thanksgiving Day meeting between Brookline and Newton North, a tradition that dates back to 1894, one of the oldest rivalries in Massachusetts.  I was the starting running back and captain of the home team, the Newton North Tigers. I finished the game with more than a hundred yards rushing, receiving, and returning kicks and punts. In the end, we won 14-7; it was only our third victory of the season.

Seven months later I made a short speech as Senior Class President at our gradation before a downpour forced the ceremony to be cut short. I was tossed my diploma by my headmaster in the auditorium and ran home through the rain to my waiting family. The celebration included family friends, our large extended family, and my maternal grandparents who had traveled from Canada for the occasion.  Two months later I started college in upstate New York. 

I found returning home after my first year away at school to be difficult.  At college, I began to find myself.  Secretly, I continued to be the girl I knew I was on the inside, and continued to dress like a woman alone in my room and on occasion walk around neighborhood late at night, like I had been doing for years back home. I also began to experiment romantically and sexually with men for the first time, and while that was liberating, it was also confusing, because I did so under the guise of being a man. Home for the summer, I got a job at Filene’s in Downtown Boston. It helped to be in a more urban setting, with a few gay co-workers and the ability to shop at stores where I could buy women’s clothes without being hassled, but it wasn’t enough.