It is 2019 and I am now 49 years old. When I’ve described to people who know me only as an adult what I looked like in high school I tell them that I looked roughly like a stick figure with boobs. At the time I didn’t really pay too much attention to what my peers thought about me, but I now realize that a lot of people thought I was pretty. I’ve been told enough times now that I have a pretty face that I can even see it myself sometimes. It helps that I can see my own face in my kids’, as well. They all have really beautiful faces.
Despite being pretty, it was not unusual for people who didn’t know me to mistake me for being a boy all the way into my mid twenties. It’s the truth. And I did sense a little discomfort around me at times because of my lack of traditional femininity. My earliest memory I have of this was when I was about five. My mom took me to get my hair cut short for the first time. She had short hair and I wanted to look like her. My mom is pretty. I was so excited and I was really excited to show my dad when he came home from work. I remember my mom painted my nails red that day and I also remember wearing a new yellow summer nightgown. I remember that I felt pretty that day. But when my dad came home I knew he was disappointed. “Why did you cut off her hair, Jane? She looks like a boy.”
Don’t worry. I was fine. I promise. I love my dad. He didn’t hurt my feelings. I sensed that he may have hurt my mom’s feelings is the thing I remember feeling. I knew damn well I looked good. Confidence is one of my gifts.
I know that when I was a kid, I was identified as a tomboy and I was proud to own it. But I don’t know that I ever thought too much about it until I had kids of my own. These kinds of things just never really bothered me. Being mistaken for a boy didn’t embarrass me. I never corrected people. I just kind of noted it and then moved on with my life. I suppose I had a strong enough sense of self not to let it bother me. I really got lucky with my early sense of self.
These days, I wonder a lot what my gender identity would have been if I had been born now instead of 1970. Even today, I’m not the most ladylike person. I’ve worn my hair short for most of my life or in styles that I didn’t have to do anything with it. I prefer to wear comfortable, simple clothing. I’m kind of direct and assertive by nature. I’m built to be athletic and strong. As a child, I played sports, but not the “boys” sports necessarily. I mostly played tennis and soccer. I do wonder if I was growing up now, would I be non-binary? I have no idea. I kind of wish I did know though. It’s fascinating.
One of my kids is non-binary. They describe themself as androgynous. I like that description. They are androgynous. When people ask me what that means, I just say. “You know, like Prince. Like David Bowie. Like a fucking rock star!” It’s the truth. My kid has always seemed androgynous to me. Even if people didn’t recognize it themselves. That’s how I saw it all along. Nothing has changed about my kid. The thing that’s changed is people’s awareness. If you think about it, what kid isn’t androgynous? Children are all just little humans, aren’t we? There are no real gender identifying characteristics visible to others in our youth. Our gender role is assumed based on how we adorn ourselves, choose to wear our hair, what sports we play or interests we have. What talents we have. Whatever the doctor at our birth decides we are at that moment.
They are just words, people! Why do we do that to each other? That pains me.
Live and let live. ✌🏼💌