-written by rife-
For the first two years of my life, I was blessed with only a very tiny amount of peach fuzz on my head. This is a curse bestowed on nearly all of the children on my mom’s side of the family; in fact, mine and my brother’s hospital photos are nearly indistinguishable, save for the color of the blankets we are swaddled in. My mom, presumably filled with visions of pink and frills, topped me with headbands and bows. She must have been so disappointed when, as soon as I could communicate, I declared a full-scale war on anything with fringe.
Not that I won, of course. I recall many aspects of my childhood as a precarious balancing act, me always aiming to please. We could pry apart all of my various childhood tendencies, but it would be a waste of time; for every doll you meet, there’s a matching nerf gun. The truth is, some things are only clearly seen in hindsight, and this has often held especially true for myself.
I suppose, as a kid, I must have been different. But if so, I never knew it growing up. Even now, I can point out a dozen reasons why that would be so: I was shy, I couldn’t figure out social situations, I was too serious, I was anxious, I was depressed. There are so many different ingredients that make a cocktail of a person, and it took me a long time to distinguish the different flavors of myself.
I thought I had it figured out when, just after my freshman year of college, I informed the world I had a girlfriend. My introduction into the queer community was in no way spectacular, but it was populated with people who, like me, knew what it felt like to be different. I started to allow myself to indulge in things I’d previously thought were forbidden to me: a men’s t-shirt here, a tie there. As a lesbian, I was afforded a great deal more social grace than I had when people believed I was straight. No longer carrying the burden of “attracting the right man”, I thought I was free.
It took a long time for me to realize that this, too, didn’t quite fit. I’d buried, deeply, a jealousy I couldn’t name or quantify: for square jaws, for muscular shoulders, for flat chests and stubble. My exposure to the trans community was brief, even as a collegiate queer, but a fascination began to form: one in which I would only allow myself to indulge on rare occasions.
Still, the process of realization was incredibly slow for me. This was not a truth I wanted to know. It wasn’t until Ali met me with absolute and unconditional love that I even began the arduous task of addressing what, exactly, I had been feeling all this time. When I finally, with her love and acceptance, admitted to myself that transitioning was something I very much wanted, all I could think was: “this is going to be so. hard.”
And, indeed, sometimes it was. Is. Those moments when I have to divulge intimate parts of myself to family, to strangers, or anywhere in between, and always bracing for impact. The knowledge that my body is considered relevant to people who will never need to know it the way my partners do. Trying to escape the shadow of the girl I used to be. But I consider myself lucky. I have a stable job, a safe home, and two wonderful partners who love me for who I am.
One day, this won’t be considered luck.
Hopefully, one day very soon.