eliottpp gave me a spare copy of Trans Forming Families, which he ordered a dozen of and sent to every member of his family (An act of bravery and pride that I am still in awe of and wish I could bring myself to do.) and I’ve been reading it. It struck me how different growing up was for me than most girls like me: I didn’t have school as a major force in my life, and what little school I did have didn’t have much of an effect on me. By being good at whatever the teachers threw at me, I could just take the tests and go hide in the library or with a book. I spent most of my time in the classroom with a book, waiting for my classmates to finish. Playground time, too, was usually not something I did, since I’d rather be in the library, reading books about folk myths from around the world.
I never had a moment in my childhood where I knew something wasn’t right — that hit me when I moved out, at age 18. Suddenly, I was forming romantic relationships for the first time, and moved to a town where I wasn’t already on a first-name basis with everyone. Stereotypes and first impressions suddenly mattered a whole lot more. I related to people more as a persona and less as a person. It was scary.
Halfway through the book, though, I find a story that is me. A kid who didn’t really toe the line as a kid, never any trouble, liked to sew and cook, intellectual, and did like some of the seemingly normal stuff, enough so that her difference didn’t stand out at all. Her parents, like mine, have tried to find every explanation other than the simple truth. “Maybe you’re just gay.” “Maybe you’re just afraid of relationships.” And they’d blame themselves, too, wondering if they caused me to be how I am. I spend a lot of time seeking out stories of people who haven’t always “Just known”, and instead discovered it later on. It’s a relative rarity, I’m finding, and that surprises me. My frame of reference for growing up just isn’t the same. I thank my parents for that, though sometimes it makes me even more lonely than ever.