How I grew up transgender without realizing it
By Jennifer Snook @SIRJID
When I was three years old, I was Snow White for Halloween.
It was wonderful for me. Snow White was my favorite Disney princess, though I’m not sure why.
She wasn’t much of a character, and while her dress was pretty, I never did like yellow.
My mother was very excited. It was her chance to make a dress, which had been a major hobby for her before she had children—two boys—and assumed she would not be able to again.
And so I went out on Oct. 31st, dressed in a tiny Snow White dress and sporting a buzz cut.
I’ve been told it was quite cute.
To me, it was all good fun. I got to be a character I loved, I got to wear something I would never be allowed to normally and, most importantly, I got more candy than should be allowed.
Of course, there was drama I was blissfully unaware of at the time.
My grandmother on my father’s side was vehemently against it, and while my father let it happen, I can’t say he was pleased.
The following year, my family went to Disneyland, and I gleefully told Snow White that I was her for Halloween. She managed to maintain her huge, forced smile as she turned to my mother and asked, “Was he really?”
That Halloween was the last time I wore a dress.
Afterwards, I learned that this was a thing boys did not do, and, as I was a boy, I did not do it.
But I wanted to. Desperately.
Whenever I had the chance, I would be a girl. Video games especially afforded me the chance, as it was something private, and not too odd to play as a woman. Eventually I even stopped doing a play through as a male character first.
On some occasions, I even managed to play the woman in make-believe games.
My brother and I would play scenarios from a game with a male and female lead, so I let him pick first. When he inevitably chose the man, I was left to humbly accept what I had wanted in the first place.
When I fought imaginary Star Wars battles in front of my friend’s house in middle school, I would play as Aayla Secura under the pretense that it allowed me to use two lightsabers—but really, I just wanted to play the girl.
Even when I had the little flights of fantasy that everyone has growing up, whether being a rock star or a scientist, or an astronaut, I was always a woman. As long as I was dreaming, why not make everything in my favor, right?
With all these signs pointing me in the right direction, it’s a wonder that I didn’t realize that I was trans earlier. But I didn’t even consider the possibility, let alone accept it, until my junior year of high school.
The problem was that I didn’t realize that was possible. I assumed that all boys secretly wanted to be girls, and there was just a big, unspoken pact that we would never mention it. Ever.
I was peripherally aware of the possibility. I had heard of trans people, though almost always as jokes or strange, exotic creatures. It never occurred to me that they were actual people, much less that I could be one of them.
Boys and girls were always strictly separated. You were one or the other, and you stayed there for life.
Not only that, but boys were supposed to act a certain way, and I was no more resilient than anyone else in escaping the pressure.
There are many ways it could have gone differently.
If I hadn’t been taught that being even remotely associated with femininity was the worst insult imaginable, perhaps I wouldn’t have been scared to be feminine.
If gender structure was less rigid and I had been allowed to express myself with all the pink and sparkles I’d wanted, perhaps my transition would have followed naturally.
If I, and my peers, had been made aware that trans people exist and were normal, then perhaps I would have transitioned when I was young.
I always knew I was a girl. I just didn’t always know that it was possible.