Are You A Boy Or A Girl?

I get asked this question a lot. Sometimes 4-6 times a day. People who don't even know me by name, sometimes people who have never even met me before, just have to go out of their way to inquire as politely as they can what the hell is between my legs.

I never really understood that. When I was little, I acted and behaved as people expected me to. I had fun wearing dresses and playing with dolls and singing. I guess you could say I was a "very 'normal' girl". But the thing is, though I did act like a girl, I never really understood how acting like a girl equated to being a girl in my parent's eyes and in society's eyes. I didn't really notice myself being outside the gender binary until I was about 11, almost 12, years old and started going through puberty. This was when everything really changed for me. Before, I was just being me, having fun and doing what I liked to do, which just so happened to be the kinds of things society associates with being female, but suddenly all this femaleness was being forced on me without my permission or consent. It was wrong. I was not (am not) supposed to have breasts or hair everywhere or bloodiness. I tried to hide it all the best I could. I found an ace bandage from who-knows-where around the house and I had heard about trans-men using them to bind so I decided it wouldn't hurt to try, and maybe if I just kept surpressing them they would just leave. But ace bandages are quite uncomfortable. Maybe there's some technique to wrapping them so they don't slip around, but I could not find a way to save my life.

At first I assumed because I clearly was not a girl, I must be a boy. So I bought all mens clothes, denied myself anything at all feminine even if I liked it. I tried to come out to my mom (as transgender), but she didn't believe me. She said because I was so feminine as a little kid, I couldn't be a boy now. She didn't kick me out or abuse me or anything, she still loved me and cared for me, she just didn't believe me. Anyway, I came out to some close friends as tansgender, which they accepted easily, and they gave me a lot of support. But on to the more important part's of my story.

When I went into middle school I dressed predominantly male, but I was born with rather feminine facial features, which totally threw off almost everyone at my new school. People stared at me, asked each other "What is it? Is that a boy or a girl?" A couple people were even so rudely bold as to ask "Do you have a penis?" I hated and loved this question at the same time. I hate it because it just shows how gender binaries are still quite present in our society, but I love it because I love to show them I don't give a **** about what this damn society thinks I should or shouldn't be depending on my body. If they phrased the question as "Are you a boy?" I would just say "No." regardless of which they were asking that I was. If they presented their question as "Are you a boy or a girl?" I also said "No." It was (still is) one of my favorite reactions in the world. The look on their faces of What-The-Hell-Are-You? This was when I, more or less, discovered myself. I wasn't a boy or a girl. I was free to do "boy" things or "girl" things, but I never became completely either. Sometimes I'd go to school in a mini skirt and short heels, sometimes faded jeans and sneakers. I guess I was lucky to grow up in a pretty non-violent school system and town, because no body did a damn thing about it even if they thought I was some devil-seed, perverted sinner.

It was kind of hard to avoid the question of my sex, whether you were a student or a teacher/staff member. I had a very old fashioned French teacher who was always trying to convince people I was a girl. One time in my French class, someone wasn't sure how to address me, (in French, elle=she and il=he) so she went and asked the French teacher who then announced that Dominique (my French name) was a girl. Everyone turned and stared at me and a kid who had been under the impression I was a boy asked, rather loudly, "Your a girl?!" But it wasn't really just him asking. Everyone was thinking it and they were all watching me waiting for my response. I turned to my French teacher and I said "No. I am not a girl."

Her delayed response was "But, I thought you were a girl? You cant be a boy."

"I never said I was a boy. I said I am not a girl."

"But you must be a boy or a girl, you cant be neither! Everyone has to be one or the other!"

And this was when I knew where I stood on the whole gender-line.

"Oh yes I can. Most people aren't, but that doesn't mean nobody is or that it's impossible. People are so used to only having two options in everything. Yes, no, black, white, up, down, left, right, boy or girl. And all the maybe's and grey's and middles get left out and treated like freaks because they know that neither of the options presented are themselves. I am so sick of this ******* box everyone is trying to lock me up in. I don't belong in that box, I never have and I never will. It isn't me. People don't care about me, or anyone, as individual's. It's all about boxes and labels and what you have between your legs and where you belong on a ******* gender-line. I belong off the gender-line."


Because when people ask "are you a boy or a girl", they aren't asking about how you identify, they aren't asking about how you feel. They're asking what kind of body you have, which implies that it's okay to define someone by their body. That because you have a penis your a man or that to be a man you must have a penis. Gender and sex are the only things in society (generally) that people still feel should strongly be defined. People don't go around asking each other about their race or nationality because that would be racist (funny how that actually wouldn't be racist, yet a whole lot of people treat it like it would). But sex and gender always have to be defined. The first question after a baby is born, generally is: Is it a boy or a girl? Even before "is it healthy".

I don't know what I'm going to put on passports, job applications, school applications. Maybe I'll end up a suicide, I sure have thought about it, maybe I'll just keep moving so no one can tie me down to one thing or another. We'll see when we get there, right?





cazziecab cazziecab
6 Responses Feb 23, 2010

I'm just spreading this around because I'm really upset that I cannot list my gender in my profile on EP. Please help me get as many people supporting this as possible.

I have always wanted to have a better understanding of how it feels to question gender. Thank you so much for sharing this because it really helped me get it. I think your feelings are beautiful. Not negative in any way. They make sense and I am happy you were able to reach such an understanding for yourself and the world.

EQUALLY, Friend,I am caught up somewhere betwixt-and-between,myself. You are quite right concerning the societies viewpoint being that if you are not one,than you must be the other. I think that this may be 'culturally' taught, as my Grandmother had no problem with me not 'fitting' into the mold of either. When I was young,I was accepted in the ba<x>seball team as a 'boy' and it did not dawn on me at the time that I aught to have responded differently. I was glad to be on the 'team' because every one knew that I could not 'hit the ball. I have had people come up and ask 'sir' or ma'am'...? and I would simply answer to both,which would sometimes cause them to back up and apologize,which I had thought was funny as I did not[still do not] believe that they aught to apologize for mistaking me for either.Hang in there What matters is the Person that You are,your personality,talents abilities not the biological designation given to you by individuals who haven't yet a clue that a human being can be just that-a Human Being.

please don't go. i'm with the others here. i'm like you. you are not the only one. i too, had similar experiences growing up. i know i'm not a transman. but i'm not completely a woman only either. thank you for sharing your story, i hope you come back to EP.

I think you are a very strong and amazing person. I was born full female, so I have never been through what you have but, I don't know why, as a stranger (me), I would like to be be there for you in someway electronically? I honestly dont know what brought me here, but you have inspired me. I hope you are still alive and well, It would suck to lose an amazing person because of this stupid world and judgemental beings.

At this moment, how are you doing?