What about blue girls? I remember wishing I was a boy quite often when I was in elementary and junior high school, mostly because I realized from a very young age that being a boy would afford me more freedom and more access to things I wanted to do, like play baseball instead of softball and real basketball instead of that crappy 6-on-6 version. I dressed like a boy as often as I did like a girl. I played sports like a boy my whole life, lived independently, took care of myself, pursued what/who I wanted and even as late as my early thirties was still “manly” enough that people questioned my sexuality, which I always found odd, but people are nosy that way.
My most frustrating moment was in 5th grade. Boys at that age could be altar servers at my Catholic grade school and I engaged in a three-year battle with the nuns, and our parish priests, because I desperately wanted to serve.
I even wanted to be a priest a one point, but when one of the sisters found out, she tried to talk me into the “next best thing” – the sisterhood. Even at eleven, I wasn’t fool enough to equate the power of the priesthood with the submissive servitude of the sisters.
One of most vivid memories as a child is hearing one of my uncles remark to my father about what a great little ballplayer I was but “why would God have wasted talent like that on a girl?” I never wanted to be a boy to “be a boy”, but rather to have what they had – freedom and power. Life is easier for men in so many ways. I knew this when I was six and I still know it.
Another female reader:
I tell people I was a boy growing up. That’s because somewhere between 3 and 5, I began to hate wearing girl things and playing with girls’ toys. Because I was a sickly child, my mother gave into my demands that I wear slacks, a tie and a shirt when I wasn’t in school uniform. I remember steeling myself before walking into ladies’ restrooms just for the inevitable responses of “Aren’t you in the wrong bathroom little boy?” My voice always convinced the women that I was female, but oh my, the looks I got!
Because of how I dressed, and because my childhood illnesses kept me from school, I felt like an “other.” Because both occurred simultaneously, my feelings of being an “other” weren’t restricted to gender issues. As an adult woman, I’ve never felt the compulsion to be a man, though I will cop to still feeling boyish after all these years. And because my mother let me be a “boy” in almost every sense of the word, I don’t feel any unresolved gender issues.
Oh, I also had a boy name: David. A few of my friends knew and some thought it weird. I wonder if some of these “trans” kids are more like me than truly trans.
On the above trailer:
Tomboy is a 2011 French drama film written and directed by Céline Sciamma. The story follows a 10-year-old girl named Laure who, after moving with her family to a new neighborhood, dresses as a boy and introduces herself to her new friends as Mickäel. A neighborhood girl named Lisa instantly assumes that Mickäel/Laure is a boy and falls in love with him. The film is supposed to explore themes of ambiguous sexuality. Writer/director Céline Sciamma said of Tomboy “The movie is ambiguous about Mikael’s feelings for Lisa. It plays with the confusion. I wanted it to be that way.”
I was not quite a tomboy, but I hated dresses and loved trucks and building things and science. To their credit, my parents never tired to encourage me to be more girly (except for forcing me to wear dresses when going somewhere fancy). I’m 24, so you’d think people wouldn’t have been surprised when I said pink wasn’t my favorite color and I didn’t care about growing up to be a “mommy,” but of course I got all sorts of crap. When I was 7, I told my grandmother my favorite sport to play was hockey. She said “You don’t want people to think you’re a dyke, do you? Pick a girl’s sport.”
In school, there was the usual teasing, from being told having hair on my arms made me a boy to rumors that I had a penis. The science teachers informed me that girls didn’t blow things up, so experiments that were interesting were limited to the boys. It culminated in middle school with students asking my (female) best friend if we were a couple and a contest among the boys to see who could “make her straight.” Yup, the students in my middle school had a campaign to rape me until I fit their idea of a girl. Luckily, being un-feminine, I wasn’t afraid to fight back and fight dirty.
Flash forward to today, where I have worked as a reporter covering the military, I still hate pink, and I’m happily straight. We forget just how pervasive our gender roles are assumed to be, and the ways our society has to try to enforce them. My life would have been easier if I’d chosen to live as a man, but I don’t think I ever really needed to; a man can love glitter and still be a man, and a woman can prefer discussing airplanes to soap operas.