“The funny thing is,” I said to my mother just the other day. “how was it not completely obvious back then?”
It’s another day and my mom and I are discussing the matter of agender identity. I came out to her and dad quite a while ago, and since my coming out (which is a story in itself, let me tell you) we’ve noticed that our relationship has been much easier without the burden of such a secret. Things that seemed weird then, in the days of my childhood, now make perfect sense. Who’da thunk it?
“One thing I never understood is that you always seemed so miserable in dresses,” My mom often says. “And now we know why! Your sister though, now she loved those girly things, but you… wore them, but it just wasn’t you.”
I’m about to admit something rather embarrassing. The earliest hint I can remember comes from when I was about age three. My mom was babysitting a family friend’s child, and I was present when she was changing his diaper. The difference between he and I became obvious immediately. “What is that?” I asked.
“That’s his penis,” My mom said. My tiny, three-year-old brain was indignant at the difference. How was it at all fair? I’m not entirely sure why this pissed me off or where my feelings were coming from, but my response was memorable. We still laugh about it to this day.
“I wish I had some peanuts! I’m tired of this old strawberry!”
Cue my mom dying of laughter.
There are flashes of other moments that stand out to me now: practically choking on the words “Hey girls, how are you doing?” when addressing a group of my friends in elementary school, feeling distinctly outside the rest of the “girls”… my interest in gender-bending elements to my favorite characters, starting with Disney’s Mulan and later Ranma 1/2 when I was in middle school… trying to cross-dress in high school (disastrously), and even the disconnect I’ve felt from my own sexuality through puberty and dating.
The list goes on. Tons of little pieces: my teenaged self reading Girl by Blake Nelson and being unable to figure out why I couldn’t relate. An awful embarrassed feeling that I was doing something wrong when Tori Amos talked of reclaiming her sexuality as becoming a woman as I earnestly wished to “reclaim” a sexuality that I felt did not belong to me.
Of course, all these pieces have been coming together now. It’s incredibly obvious now, through the lens of an adult with a lot more awareness. My mom frets over having raised me to be a girl, as if she should have known before I did.
“It’s fine,” I tell her. “It’s fine now.”
All the fragments that illustrate the life of an agender kid are clear, and really they are the only way I can explain the experience of my gender identity. It’s a deep, deep feeling in my core. Very centered. I’m as certain of this experience as anyone certain of their gender would be. It’s only the times when I would try to shove myself into the girl-shaped mold that made the least amount of sense. Time and time again, I felt off-center and broken. Why did being a girl come so easily to the other girls?
Well, it’s because they were girls. I was not. This is clear now.