Trans Stories From My Childhood

 

I got the idea for this blog post from Ashton Daniel’s video on YouTube called ‘trans kid stories’. In the video, he spoke about how, upon reflecting on his childhood, he can see early signs of his trans identity in many of the choices he made and the things he did. So, here I have compiled a list of some of the stories which I think show that I was aware of my trans identity from early childhood.

[I might do a part two for this as I think there are some more stories I could write about, let me know if you would be interested in reading a second part to this].

1. I refused to wear a bikini top when I was a little kid on holiday

I refused to believe that my body was that of a female because I knew in my head that I didn’t feel like a female. Also, I knew that if I wore a bikini top, that would mark me out to other people as definitely being a girl. So, I fought my mum and refused to wear a bikini top and just ran about the beach topless. I hadn’t grown a chest by that point and my mum (and social expectations) put a stop to this before too long and soon I would just opt to wear a t-shirt and shorts to the beach or be in my wetsuit to go bodyboarding (we always went on holiday to Cornwall, so the sea wasn’t that warm anyway).

2. I stood-up to pee

I didn’t want to pee like a girl, so I would stand-up to pee. I feel sorry for the person (probably my mum) who would have to clear-up the mess I made later but this is another story that, with the benefit of reflection, tells me that I was already questioning my gender by the time I was old enough to go to the toilet on my own.

3. Little Ryan: ‘I have a willy too!’

I refused to believe that I had female genitalia and convinced myself that I, like my brothers, had a willy. One day, I said something about this and my brothers corrected me. Then ensued a shouting match between me and my brothers in which I adamantly told them that ‘I have a willy too!’. I was probably about 4 years old when I said this and I found it very frustrating that nobody took me seriously.

4. Wearing trousers to school

Every girl at school, with only one or two exceptions, wore a skirt as part of their school uniform, so the option to wear trousers was mostly ignored by the female pupils. I hated wearing skirts which I saw as marking myself out as a ‘girl’, so I decided to wear trousers instead. This may not seem like a big deal but at 11 years old, I was very self-concious and I knew that people would do a double-take when they saw me wearing trousers because barely any other ‘girls’ did the same.

5. Wearing boys’ school shoes

Following-on from the last story, when my mum and I went shopping for school shoes (which was a trip we both dreaded every year), I told the man at the shoe shop that I resolutely wanted boys’ shoes. I think I was around 13 years old and, out of exasperation and wanting desperately to get out of the shop which was rammed with stroppy kids, my mum didn’t really try to convince me otherwise. So, for the next school year I went around wearing what looked like clown shoes on my little feet but I felt so happy that I didn’t have to wear the flowery school shoes which the other ‘girls’ wore!

6. Wanting to change primary schools

From the ages of 4 to 11, I attended an all-girls’ school whilst my brothers attended an all-boys school. I vividly remember dreaming at night during this period about being able to attend my brothers’ school instead and being treated as a boy. I longed to have a place in their school, which evidently did not happen.

7. Playing in boys’ sport teams

I used to play cricket when I was younger and, up until around 12 years old, I would play in an all-boys’ team. Up to this age, there were no regulations against it and considering that cricket is a non-contact sport and there weren’t many girls’ teams in existence, my parents and the coaches did not have a problem with it. I enjoyed this experience, except for that opposition teams would always make a fuss about wanting to ‘get the girl out’ (me) and it was deemed especially shameful if you were gotten-out by ‘the girl’ (for some reason they never addressed me by my then-name, they only called me ‘the girl’!).

8. Asking to play rugby

At about six years old I mustered all my courage and asked my parents if I could play rugby. I knew that, in their eyes, it was essentially a male sport (it is quite a rough contact sport) but I so desperately wanted to play. They said ‘no’ because playing rugby ‘wasn’t feminine’ and I felt angry and frustrated. I had hoped that they would take the same position as they had with me playing cricket with the boys, but no such luck.

9. Showing-off my strength and anger

At times as a child (and probably still now), I attempted to over-compensate in shows of my masculinity to convince people that I wasn’t ‘girly’. I saw anger, aggression and strength as typical male traits. At about 5 years old, I remember throwing a stool across my bedroom in a bid to appear masculine and impress people with my strength. All it resulted in was me breaking my stool and getting a big telling-off from my mum!

10. Screaming about and hiding clothes

I detested the clothes my mum bought for me. Going clothes shopping was an ordeal as I would walk miserably around every girls’ clothing section, trailing after my mum, and grow more and more angry as she put clothes she saw as ‘pretty’ into her arms to buy for me. Sometimes, when we got home, I would hide the clothes she had bought for me, stuffing them behind bits of furniture or at the bottom of wardrobes under all sorts of clutter. My reasoning was that, if she couldn’t find the clothes, then she couldn’t dress me in them! I remember the tears I cried and the tantrums I had about being made to wear dresses for family occasions and I now see these as examples of my trans identity already being prominent in my youth.

11. Playing ‘dad’ or ‘son’

At my all-girls primary school, my friends enjoyed playing ‘families’. I would always immediately volunteer to play the dad or son and would be angry at the mere suggestion of me playing a female character. For the most part, people welcomed my willingness to play the dad or son because they always wanted the female roles to themselves.

 

Here are some resources for trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming/questioning people:

Mermaids UK

The Stonewall Blog

A list of organisations over at All About Trans

 

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The Harry Potter Tag

No amount of Harry Potter magic in your life is too much. Recently my mental health has been quite up and down and, as silly as it sounds, the wizarding world of Harry Potter always allows me some escapism, even at the age of 19! I love retreating into the fantastical world of Hogwarts and diverting my mind from the negative thoughts spiralling around my head. So, today I thought I would complete the Harry Potter Tag in a bid to spread some magic and light to other people’s lives.

*I believe that this tag was created by Cassie over at ZombieGoddess Beauty, so all credit to her*

1. What house are you in?

I am a very proud Slytherin! Whilst some people find my house controversial, I firmly believe that not all Slytherins are evil or necessarily drawn to dark things. We are resourceful and cunning but we can chose to use these qualities in any way . Also, being ambitious (which is another house quality) does not have to be a shameful attribute. Striving for the things you want in life is very important for self-fulfilment.

2. What is your patronus?

My patronus is a buzzard according to Pottermore (which is a bird if you were wondering). I’m not sure what to say about this really, except for that I think having a flying creature for your patronus is quite cool, especially in a visual sense.

3. What is your wand?

My wand is alder wood with a unicorn hair core, 10 inches long and quite bendy. 

4. What would your boggart be?

Probably me as a deeply miserable old woman. As someone who suffers from mental health issues, there is always a worry in the back of my mind that my problems will stay with me all my life and that I will never be far from depression and anxiety. The idea that I would spend my whole life in that state is very frightening to me.

5. What position would you play in Quidditch? 

I think I would be a Beater. I would not like to be a Seeker because that entails too much pressure and attention from the crowd. Being a Keeper might make me jealous of my teammates because they would be able to fly around a lot more than me. Also, I don’t think I would have the speed to be a Chaser whereas a Beater would quite suit my fiery nature.

6. Would you be a pure blood, half blood or muggle born?

I could imagine myself as a muggle born because I am usually the odd-one-out in a lot of situations! I am quite an awkward person as well which would correspond with the awkwardness of being the only one in the family with magical ability. I’m not sure what my fellow Slytherins would have to say about it though!

7. What job would you want to have after graduating from Hogwarts?

Running my own magical shop in Diagon Alley sounds like a nice prospect! Perhaps I would run a shop in my retirement after serving as an auror during my employment years. Catching Death Eaters and other dark figures would be very satisfying and give me a chance to prove all those Slytherin stereotypes wrong.

8. Which of the Deathly Hallows would you chose?

The Invisibility Cloak has always greatly appealed to me. As a very anxious person, being able to hide from certain social situations sounds great to me. Also, with the Invisibility Cloak I could investigate all sorts of forbidden places which would make for great adventures.

9. Favourite book?

The Prisoner of Azkaban. As this is the book where Harry, Ron and Hermione are in their Third Year, we see them as having matured (to an extent) for the first time and we get an insight into their emotional complexity, especially with Harry in regards to the death of his parents.

10. Least favourite book?

The Chamber of Secrets. I could not bare the character of Gilderoy Lockhart, so reading through scenes with him made me cringe and squirm furiously! However, it goes without saying that I still love the book.

11. Favourite film?

Again, I would say The Prisoner of Azkaban. It has everything in it that I love about Harry Potter films. Also, this film is the first time we see Sirius Black who is my favourite character and the scene where he flies off on Buckbeak’s back is iconic!

12. Least favourite film?

I would have to say The Chamber of Secrets again. Every time Lockhart’s face appears on screen, I groan!

13. Favourite character?

Sirius Black, I love that he is so complex. His family background is really interesting considering that they rejected him whilst he was still young because he diverted from their Pure Blood fascination. His courage and willingness to fight for what is right, his passion for being a good godfather to Harry and the injustice of him being imprisoned for a crime he did not commit all make a really intriguing character for me.

14. Least favourite/most hated character?

Lucius Malfoy, he is portrayed as spineless and incredibly passive, especially in the films. Whenever he has a task he is unable to do his own work, he never stands-up to people, his snobbery is infuriating and his son is endlessly miserable which is partly due to his dire upbringing.

15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

This changes quite often for me but at the moment it is Remus Lupin who comes to mind. His lessons were imaginative and engaging for his students. His own story about becoming a werewolf at such a young age and facing social stigma because of it is another intriguing strand to his backstory. Also, the fact that he was one of the infamous Marauders helps my liking of him!

16. Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

Delores Umbridge, although Gilderoy Lockhart comes a very close second! Umbridge was endlessly evil and her torture of those who opposed her was shocking. She had an answer for everything and constantly found a way to legitimate her actions. Also her bright pink outfits along with her cat saucers, which lined her walls, were horrible.

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?

I thought that a lot more attention could have been given to Harry and Ginny’s relationship to be honest. Their connection wasn’t developed enough for me and did not sit naturally in my mind. 

18. If you could save one character from the final battle who would you save?

I think it would have to be Fred Weasley; he was so young and the other half of George who could never conjure a patronus again after his twin’s death. Whilst I think that Lupin and Tonks deserved so much better, I couldn’t save one without the other and at least they had been given the chance to live a life before they died.

 

I tag anyone else to do this who needs a little more magic in their life at the moment!

CONTACT ME:

Twitter: @IssieLouH

Instagram: @awalkwithnature00

BIG MAGIC

Yesterday evening I finished reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert and I feel lucky to have read a book that connected so profoundly with my own state of mind, my own needs and my own perspective. It reminded of a fact which I have forgotten since studying at University; that creating art can be fun. University puts so much emphasis on masterpieces and the genius of those who make it into the literary canon that I have forgotten the nuances of creative experience. This book reminded me not to put so much pressure on myself, I do not have to write pieces for the express purpose of them being profound or important, instead I can create and write for the joy of it.

Here are five of the most important lessons that I took from ‘Big Magic’:

1. Do not be fearful of your art, be playful and curious with it

I think that most people who create anything go through periods where they are too scared to pick up a pen, a paint brush or whatever their implement of choice because they are worried about the outcome. Either they are scared of people laughing at what they have created, they fear that they will feel let down by their own efforts or that they will not find any inspiration to engage with. Firstly, Gilbert reminds us that the act of just focusing on creating art in whatever form is a human victory in itself and if someone laughs at you for it then you can feel sorry for them for completely missing the point of a creative existence. Secondly, being self-critical is okay in small doses but once in a while we should give ourselves a pat on the back for just exercising our creative energies whether we created something we loved or not because at least we are teaching ourselves and bettering our creativity during the process. Thirdly, inspiration comes in many forms, sometimes it is clear and easy to decipher, at other times it seems to hide from us and we have to tease out it’s content bit by bit through being open and determined to find that next creative spark.

2. Do not take yourself too seriously, your art will suffer if your ego takes control

“How you manage yourself between those bright moments, when things aren’t going so great, is a measure of how devoted you are to your vocation”

Something about this quote from the book really resonated with me. When I am going through patches where I feel that my creativity has dried-up and I am just producing inane drivel I feel so frustrated and angry at creativity, I blame it for leaving me adrift. However, there is no point on sitting around aimlessly waiting for a lightning bolt of genius to hit you and gift you the bulk of a novel on a silver platter. Equally there is no point in refusing to create in these dry patches because you believe that you have too much self-respect to create something anything less than greatness – that is your ego talking. Keep creating just for the sheer hell of it, this is your life and if you feel a calling to live your life creatively then you have to ride the rough with the smooth and keep exercising those creative energies whilst keeping the faith that the incomparable feeling of inspiration will visit you again when both you and it are ready.

3. You do not have to go through pain or misery to produce good and profound art

Creating should be fun, however this is never a point which is emphasised within the arts. Instead, I have been lectured numerous times on the individual pains which the great writers went through to write their famous works. It is almost like we are taught that creating has to be a form of purgatory, we cannot enjoy it, instead it must be torture and it has to be agony to produce whatever it is that we want to. There is a myth that any profound art must come from a place of darkness where a person has struggled against hatred of the creative process to bring their idea into reality. I know that creativity can sometimes be frustrating but why can’t it also be fun? Why can’t I be playful with my inspiration and ideas rather than have to permanently suffer because of them? 

4. The Earth will not stop spinning if your creation is not perfect

“while it’s definitely true that failure and criticism will bruise my precious ego, the fate of nations does not depend on my precious ego.”

Sometimes we can be paralysed by the fear that what we have created is not good enough and so we will do nothing with it. I have fallen into this trap many times, the notion that if I am not writing with the intention of producing a master piece or something profound and original then I shouldn’t write at all. However, if I take a step back I can see how ridiculous this is! Who the hell has the authority to decide what a masterpiece is anyway? I can create because I love to and to hell with anyone who says that the imperfections in my writing make it stupid and pointless, the imperfections they see in my writing are probably what makes it distinct and mine anyway. Plus, nothing dramatic is going to happen if I produce something which is nearer the crappy end of the scale rather than the genius end. Sure, it will be disappointing and I will be sad about it but then the world goes on and I will take what I need to from that experience and move on because no big seismic shift will occur in the world because I produced a story with blatant plot holes and grammatical errors.

5. Creativity should be cherished

“I am referring to the supernatural, the mystical, the inexplicable, the surreal, the divine, the transcendent, the otherworldly. Because the truth is, I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment – not entirely human in its origins.”

As you can see from the quote, Gilbert talks and thinks about creativity in a reverential way. She speaks about it like it is a force which is outside of our understanding, unpredictable and totally, divinely, beautiful. I believe this too. I cannot explain creativity or inspiration, its ebbs and its flows. Sometimes it shines its full grace on me and I feel completely immersed in the magical feeling of imagination, purpose and art. Other times its a little trickier to place and I have to pursue inspiration with a renewed sense of determination. Either way, creativity is a hard idea to pinpoint precisely because of its unknown nature. People who live a creative life place their trust and faith in a force which can seem like it is playing them at times; teasing them with an idea just outside of their grasp. However, the way creativity can light-up our lives and bring us out of the usual routine of things surely means that it should be cherished, respected and revered.

 

OUT OF CONTROL

Thousands of characters
Rushing around my head,
All bouncing and waving-
Manically.
A little too much for me to take.

They punctuate those rare moments,
Where silence fills the spaces
In the vacant seconds of a day.
They pinch and prod me,
Appearing more real than reality.
They need me so that they can live,
So they can breathe,
So they can stretch and feel.
Without me, my characters have no life,
They wander and stumble in the dark
Frantic like a lost toddler;
Vulnerable.

They die in the dark,
So sleep is not an option.
They need the colour
Require vivid imagination,
Must have the control of my body
Down to my fingertips
Where I reach for a pen.

I watch them restlessly,
I’m worried, waiting for the day
When they wander off
Sick of not being fulfilled,
Tired that their fiction isn’t tangible,
Exasperated at my failure to listen.

My characters wander around,
Sometimes stomping,
Sometimes skipping,
Always around the perimeters,
Threatening my overspilling head.
I need them to survive.
They are my lifeline, my escape.
My only fact is my fiction.

POISONOUS POPULARITY

It is a cult of your own making,
A stricken frenzy led by fascination,
A mistake; I think not,
But a world of your own careful construction,
Walls built high, barricaded with locks,
A censored world flourishing in dysfunction,
Yours is a paradise paying for destruction.

Death by criticism and isolation,
A gift given as your prejudiced consolation,
Your heels click neatly as they pound the floor,
With frenzied opportunists shouting for more
And your pseudo-interest in them giving you a parasitic tour.

The stage is set – a sea of red,
People salivating for the cruel words you said,
Your mouth mimes the action of knowing intelligence
Whilst a vicious dictator takes over instead,
Casting your spell over the living dead.

Faces recoil in all the other places,
Nooks and crannies – the liberal spaces,
Tears of anger linger in their facial creases,
But hearts of resolve solidify behind love-torn faces,
More powerful than the dirty money
Lying in your corporate briefcases.

WHAT SCHOOL RUINED…

When did life stop being about romance novels set in idyllic cottages in the English countryside? When did I stop curling up with a bookend reading for fun without the pressure to analyse every piece of grammar?

Reading books used to be about fun for me. I could escape into someone else’s story, dream about them and pretend to inhabit their world. My imagination would be set alight by the endless possibilities of different endings and ideas for sequels so that I could keep that world alive. I would feel at my most safe when I was huddled under blanket knowing that I didn’t even have to move from the sofa for the rest of the afternoon if I didn’t want to, I could just sit in peace and read.

I devoured books quickly because I was hungry for that spark of magic that they held. I couldn’t savour them for long as quickly passed onto the next one that was sure to pull my into its own world. In this way, I had one corner of my life that was reserved purely for happiness and adventure through books.

I think I have lost these feelings though somewhere. I think I left them behind when I became desperate to prove myself to be an academic and someone who had an insight into pieces of text because I relied on my academic ability to feel like I had any self-worth. I stopped looking at books as magic portal keys into a different world and instead saw them as an opponent I had to face and conquer; something that wasn’t to be enjoyed but to be pulled apart and critiqued through the voice and eyes of someone else. I wrote long essays on books using opinions that weren’t true to me but what I thought would impress my teachers. I lost any passion for literature because if I read a book that wasn’t a Classic or prestigious I had the voice of a snooty academic in the back of my head telling me that was reading an unoriginal piece of commercial writing.

I realise now what a mistake it was for me to give into this voice. Reading made me happy and by giving in to people who felt that they had the right to lecture me on what was good and bad was ridiculous. If I get a sense of enjoyment out of book then I can think that it is good. It doesn’t matter that I am 18 and I still hunger to pore through the shelves of YA fiction in Waterstones, why can’t I give into that impulse if it makes me happy? Books don’t have to be micro-analysed. They can be if that is what you are using it for but primarily surely they are there to engage with the reader in whatever way they can. Also, I’m pretty sure authors wouldn’t be happy with teachers telling pupils what they should and shouldn’t think and feel in relation to their book. Books are made to be enjoyed, not for a teacher to force it down someone’s throat.