When i was little I loved to climb trees and play in the dirt and ride my bike. My BLUE boy’s BMX bike. As I got a little older and my friends started having crushes on the boys in our class, I realized that MY crushes weren’t on those stupid boys that I played with in the sandbox, but on the girls inviting me over to play Barbie and other ridiculous games that I hated… I hated their games, but BOY did I love them!

I SO desperately wished I could be one of those boys—the objects of their affections. I wanted to continue playing in the dirt, and more than ANYTHING I wanted the girls to see me the same way they saw the boys next to me. The way I saw myself… When I was alone with my imagination I WAS one of those boys. I was Superman rescuing the damsel in distress. I was the husband and the dad; parting my awkward bangs and slicking down my hair, wearing my father’s ties and shoes and pretending to shave—just like him. I was the cowboy, the hunter and the star quarterback. I played sports and tried my damnedest to outdo the boys in everything from kickball to skipping rocks and jumping our bikes.

Puberty hit me like a ton of bricks, and I didn’t know what to do with the changes that were happening to my body. I was a girl… as much as I didn’t want it to happen, and as much as I PRAYED that it would stop; things just kept changing, and I felt more out of place than ever.

Ah, but my feelings for the girls never changed, and neither did my body — so eventually I assumed that I was just gay. It was the only explanation that I could come up with.

It never quite made sense to me though, because I continued to dream of somehow waking up in a different body. Waking up and being “normal”. One way or another I wanted to be like everyone else… I desperately wanted to fit in and not feel so alone.

By high school I’d learned how to play the part that my body told me would “fit”. Believe me, it was an Oscar-worthy performance… I watched the girls in my classes, and I learned how to talk like them. I didn’t mind being their friend because really… I loved them! I soon learned that I could “be the boy” when in a group of girls, and that sufficed. I learned to blend in JUST enough to not draw attention to myself—or to how different I was. So, I picked boys in my class — usually the boys that I would’ve wanted to BE if things, if my life and my body, had been different — and told my friends THAT was the boy I had a crush on… when really, I was just masking my attraction to the girls.

I eventually started to resent and hate boys… not because of what they were, but for what I WASN’T. I didn’t know what to do with my anger and frustration… there was no one to blame — except for myself, but I knew that I couldn’t help the feelings that I was having. So, I kept pushing it away. Ignoring it. Pretending it wasn’t an issue. By then, I KNEW that it wasn’t something that could be changed. I was a girl, and that was it. I never felt free to be honest about my crushes — let alone how I felt about MYSELF.

There was no one to tell. There was no one to blame and there was nothing I could do… except hide.

By the time I started college, I’d convinced myself that I would just be single —and alone— forever.

I knew, because of my parent’s ingrained religious beliefs, that I could never act on the things that I felt… as TRUE and as real as those feelings had always been for me; I had also learned how sinful it was… because, despite how I felt on the inside, I was a girl. A stupid, freaking GIRL who still dreamed of someday, magically waking up and being a boy. If only I could be be a boy then everything would make sense, and it would all be okay.  The clothes I wore. The stuff I liked to do, AND most significantly, the girls I wanted to date—it would all be acceptable… if not for one. Minor. Detail.

I was a girl.

People took every opportunity they could to remind me of that painful reality…

Anytime I BEGGED to not wear a dress because it felt SO uncomfortable on me. Everytime I wanted to play boy games instead of playing house or dolls. When I pleaded with my parents to play trumpet instead of clarinet or buy t-shirts instead of skirts. And especially when I avoided those seemingly never-ending conversations and inquisitions about boys and my clothes and why I kept cutting my hair shorter and shorter.

My extended family was very concerned that the nice boys in my classes or at church might not be interested in me if I kept “dressing like that” or because my hair “used to be so long and beautiful”.

They didn’t understand.

How could they?!

To them, I’d always just been a tomboy and they assumed I would grow out of my boyish ways…

I SO hated to disappoint them. To BE such a disappointment. To them, I was simply a perpetual tomboy — forever 8 years old and playing in the dirt.

They’d never know of MY secret disappointment— in myself. In my BODY. How I felt betrayed by my body and by God. I had so many questions but no answers and no one to talk to about any of it…