I was a failure before I was even born. I knew I was a failure very early. I was a failure because my father wanted a boy and I am a girl. I am a girl on the inside and on the outside. But my father wanted a boy and I knew it. I was a disappointment day one. I spent many years in early childhood trying to kiss my own elbow. Why was I trying to kiss my own elbow? My father told me if I kissed my own elbow I’d turn into a boy. I wanted so badly to be a boy. I did not want to be a boy because I thought I was a boy on the inside and a girl on the outside. I wanted to be a boy to please my father who wanted me to be a boy. I tried to be a boy for years and years. I stayed away from dressing and acting like a girl unless mother made me wear a dress (like for picture day at school). Except for Barbie dolls. I loved playing with Barbie dolls. Somehow I felt ashamed of this and was embarrassed for liking them. I learned to hunt and fish. I hated hunting and fishing on the inside but pretended to like it on the outside because boys were supposed to like hunting and fishing–my father did. I did everything I thought a boy would do and I did these things with my father and for my father. He seemed to like it–to like me when I acted like a boy. He gave me a pocket knife and I still have it. Periodically he’d remind me I was a girl, though, and he really wanted a boy. I planned to be a truck driver–like he was. I learned to change a tire. I acted like I didn’t care about my pets because only girls got attached to pets–so I thought. I still live with a deep sense that I’m not right. I have a nagging feeling inside I don’t measure up, that I’ve failed because of who I am–what I am. I am female. My father wanted a male.
This is why I am a little more than concerned about children being encouraged to pick their own gender in elementary school. I’m sure there are truly transgendered children and these children should be supported, encouraged and affirmed. I am also sure there are children like I was who will, if given the chance, change their gender identity to please a parent–to be the gender their parent wanted not the gender they really are or want to be for themselves. Now, kissing your elbow is a reality. Children can kiss their elbow and become another gender by simply saying that’s what they are on the inside. I was a girl on the inside and a girl on the outside. I denied that little girl on the inside and tried really hard to erase her on the outside too. I still carry the scars. It would have been nice to have been able to be myself even though I was a traditional girl on the inside. I would have loved to just be a girl. I still miss the girl things I denied myself. I was just a child and truly did like girly things but denied myself many of those things. I wanted pink things with Tinker-Bell on them. I wanted a Shirley Temple doll like my girly girl friend, Joanne. I liked playing with trucks though (with Robbie and Richie) but strangely I was not allowed those kinds of toys either–because I was a girl. If we deny girls girly things or deny boys boyish things just so we can be gender neutral how is that helping? Can’t children just be themselves even if they happen to like girl things when they are girls, boy things when they are boys or some combination because they are who they are? Telling children what they should be, should like or should not like is no better whether it’s gender neutral or gender specific. Children like what they like and girls may actually like a few girly things and boys may actually like a few boyish things. Let’s just let children be themselves and not push our adult agendas on them before they are even old enough to know what they want aside from pleasing those adults who are so important to them. Give them a chance to be who they are before they have to decide to be someone else.
If I had been born in this day and age I would have declared myself to be a boy on the inside when I knew I really wasn’t just to please my father. At a young age I definitely would have chosen to have surgery to completely erase my female personhood and it would have been a tragedy. I am a girl on the inside and the outside and I have finally begun to embrace and enjoy my girl-ness. I have a lot of lost time to make up for too. I am not ashamed anymore for being born a girl.
A note about the pictures: I took the picture of me out of the frame to scan and discovered the original picture that came with the frame in the 1960’s; thought I’d share that too!
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