Raleigh, NC (TFC) – When I hear about people “being born in the wrong body” I have flashbacks to my childhood. My mother always told me she thought I was going to be a boy because her pregnancy with me was so different than the one with my sister. Also, in my family, there are three sets of cousins, the older sibling is a girl and the younger is a boy…except for me. I was told from a young age that “I should have been a boy”. I had no idea what this meant, but I wished I was one. I wanted to hang out with the boys and do “boy things”, and I didn’t like being the girl, or a girl. I thought I was supposed to be a boy and something had gone wrong.
I remember this feeling of thinking I should have been born a boy as long as I can remember. My whole family was split down the line of male/female. Everyone. The boys all did one thing, the girls did another. I always chose to go with the boys, and I was the only outlier in either group. The boys and girls both made fun of me, as did the men and women, and it became a normal thing to joke about: that I should have been born a boy.
When I was 5 I started Tae Kwon Do. It was the only thing I wanted to do. I went nearly every day, and I was good. I started teaching adults at 7 and got my black belt at 8. I led the summer camps, I helped run the tournaments, I was chosen for demonstrations. I was so good for a girl, I was told. There it always was. My solitary fuck-up of not being born a boy. I loathed this saying. It made everything I was good at feel like it wouldn’t ever be good enough. When I fought girls they would pull me aside and tell me to go easier on them. I thought I should have been fighting with the boys but I couldn’t. I started cutting my hair short. People called me a dyke. I was a kid and I didn’t get any of it, I just wanted the confusion to stop. I just wanted to be one of the boys.
As I grew up I met a friend in middle school who turned out to also think she should have been born a boy. When I finally saw it in someone else, I realized how silly it was. I was a girl, and so was she. What had they done to us? In high school, she started transitioning. By that time, I had made girl friends who gave me the space to love my girl-ness in all of its messy too much. My friend was an angry person, and I think this had a lot to do with it. Her path led her to fully transition, and mine led me to radical feminism.
I know that she is a girl, and nothing she could do will ever change that. Just like I am a girl, a girl who came to hate myself, my parts, and what they meant to the world, as she did. If I had a different mother, my life might have gone that way as well. I might have been allowed to hate my body so much that I was encouraged and supported to mutilate it, and to silence all talk about it as “triggering” or “transphobic”. A complete and ultimate anti-female personal dystopia. But I did not have that mother, and I didn’t live in that world. My mother would say, “What the hell are you talking about? No. You’re a girl.” Like it was nonsense…because it was nonsense.
I can see the distant shadow of a parallel universe where I might have told an adult I thought I was a boy, a world where they responded that I was trans, a world that insisted my mom support my “transition” into my “real body.” Where my mother got in trouble for child abuse, a logical extension of trans ideology, for denying to foster this utter confusion which is unsupported by science (apart from psychological discomfort). One where I was inundated with foreign chemicals to press the “pause button” on my development, or scalpels to mutilate my female flesh, a practice not unknown to this world. Where I was talked into thinking no female can try to claim rights that males have, but must try to become them to have the right to be fierce, dirty, powerful, autonomous, to take up space, to be big with their energy, and strong, and good at things without the surprised face and for a girl spoken after.
Nothing was ever wrong with my body, this is all just sexism at work. That happened to me because I was a girl who refused to fit the mold of girlhood, and I can see the parallel universe where the world tried to get me to step inside of another mold and I believed that I should hoping I could just fit some where.
By now, I probably would have put my mother in debt with all of the medical bills. I would be dependent on hormone therapy. I might need a hysterectomy because long-term use of testosterone can cause women to develop similar symptoms as those seen in polycystic ovarian syndrome. I would be dependent on medical treatment in general. I would never forget the feeling of being the fraud I was every time I got my period or had a weird longing to get pregnant, the same fraudulent feelings I had when I thought there was something wrong with me as a small child. I would hate my own body so much I would try to deny it’s existence, and argue with everyone around me until they did the same. I would believe I was privileged to be a man, instead of disadvantaged for being born a woman in a man’s world. I would have little to no platform in the trans movement. I would have been less visible because I wouldn’t have stuck out as a girl in boys spaces and, yea, I guess I do think that there are parts of all of this that would have been easier to stomach than never fitting in.
But I am a girl, and no one can convince me to hate that anymore.