500 Words on Nostalgia

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I spent a fair amount of my childhood wanting to be a princess. While that’s pretty common for little girls, it’s less so for little boys, which is where things get complicated.

I miss being younger. I miss being nine, ten, eleven, twelve — even thirteen, at times. I miss having long hair and playing with Barbies and calling myself a “horse girl,” as embarrassing as that might be in retrospect.  

A narrative exists concerning trans childhood, and that narrative is almost entirely authored by cisgender people. It seems that for the majority of the cis population, the only way to fathom transgender existence is by framing it as a biological mistake: that is, someone “meant to be” male was born female, or vice versa. There is a predominant refusal to acknowledge gender as anything but inherent, predetermined, and unchanging, because its complex reality is intimidating. Because of this, a diagnosis of gender dysphoria will often reference one’s younger years.

When I first pursued testosterone treatment, my doctors all asked the same questions: When did you first feel that you weren’t a girl? What sort of toys did you play with as a kid? What gender were the majority of your friends?

My answers were carefully composed. I’d done my research; I knew what they wanted to hear.  

What I said:

As far back as I can remember, even though I didn’t have words for it.

A combination of things, but I avoided pink stuff for the most part.

Mostly girls, but I think it was because my social anxiety was so bad, even then.

The truth:

When I was fifteen. And I pushed it out of my mind and labeled it as an intrusive thought over and over and over, not because I thought I wouldn’t be accepted, but because I didn’t want to be wrong. I dreaded that people would think I was just seeking attention.

Stuffed animals and dolls, because I loved characters, narratives, plotlines. I had a lot of Barbies, but they spent most of their time embroiled in dramatic murder mysteries.

Girls. They were all girls. Most of them still are, because I trust women in a way that I will never trust cisgender men.

I wasn’t dysfunctional as a young kid. In fact, I was pretty on top of things. Sure, I felt ugly. Sure, I had agonizing anxiety. Sure, I wanted to be a stallion rather than a mare whenever my friends and I played horses together. And, like many other people, I miss being that age. Sometimes, I think that I would replace it with a cis male childhood if I could. But other times — most of the time — I don’t.

I should be happy about that comfort. But instead, I’ve been taught to hide it. In absconding girl, I am also expected to reject girlhood and everything it ever meant to me.

But I loved being a kid. Being trans shouldn’t exclude me from feeling nostalgic for my carefree childhood. Trans people should not be expected to define themselves through pain. And it scares me even to write this, to post it, because I know that there are people who will read it and think that I’m somehow fake for it. But the truth is the truth. Even though I’ve written a hundred fictional narratives, my own life will no longer be one of them. I owe that to every version of myself.

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