What I didn’t realize that day at the well was that I already was a little boy, despite what the school bathroom door told me: other little girls were delicate and mean mysteries, football was routine. And that’s what I told myself for most of my childhood: I was a boy, a secret one, one that could never tell anyone else. I was also gay, and that, too, was something I thought I would never tell anyone. I was gay because I had a girl body and I liked girls, but I was a little boy because I was one in my head.
Yeah, it was confusing for me too.
And I was okay with that confusion, because I was ten, or twelve, and basketball and video games took up most of my brain space in those days. I gave the incongruence between the biological sex in my pants and the gender in my head very little thought, and no one, neither my family, nor my friends, nor any teachers ever asked me to “dress like a girl” or “act more lady-like.” Being a little tomboy was the only way I knew how to be. I loved playing sports and collecting basketball cards and riding my bike. I thought girls were cute, but didn’t care too much if playful touching in the form of tickling or hair braiding was the only physical attention I got from my grade school classmates. Of course that was all before puberty.
Before puberty I was satisfied showing off with the rest of the boys–we all looked pretty much the same, and I was just as good at sports as the best of them. But when we started to hit puberty they got taller, I got wider. They got shoulders, I got hips. They got bigger hands, I got tits. I was devastated. I stopped playing sports. I became self-conscious. Suddenly none of my clothes fit. I was betrayed by my biology in a very public way. I know all the other girls were becoming aware of these changes in themselves around the same time, and I suppose other women would consider this comforting. But I wasn’t a woman–I was a boy going through female puberty and it was humiliating.
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli