by Jimmy Elliot
A transgender boy coming to terms with his gender identity against his parents wishes.
|I'm five years old, stood there in my brother's baggy dark blue jumper. It falls quite a few inches past my hands so my tiny clenched fists remain unseen. I stare at the floor, feeling my face burning. I'm avoiding his gaze but I can feel his anger radiating onto me. My mother tries to calm her partner down. “Don't think too much of it,” she says calmly. “It's just a phase, she'll grow out of it.”
I'm seven years old, I'm running around the park with my friends and a football. It's almost summer and my town is hit with an unfamiliar heatwave. My t-shirt has been taken off, like all of the other boys, mine is being used as a goal post. My mother sees me and shouts me inside, I run in quickly not understanding what I've done wrong. She talks at me for quite a while, attempting to keep her voice calm. She tells me that that's not what girls do, I look up at her really confused.
“But I want to be a boy,” I say with wide eyes and a tilted head. “So why can't I be one?”
“Because you're a girl,” she replies straightforwardly. It's evident in her voice that she's irritated, she didn't have to do this with any of her other children.
“But I want to be a boy,” I say. My voice is clear with aggravation and I stamp my tiny foot on the ground. Her demeanour calms as she tries a different approach. She lowers herself to my height and puts her hand on my shoulder.
“Girls don't play football and only boys can run around shirtless.”
“But why can't I? I want to -” She sees how upset I am becoming so tries to reassure me.
“It's just a phase, you'll grow out of it. Don't worry.”
That summer we went away to Spain. It's the first time I've ever gotten sunburn, I'm throwing pebbles into the see when a young boy comes running up to join me. We are standing there for quite a while before he turns to me.
“I'm Damien, what's your name?” He asks in a soft quiet voice with a hint of a lisp.
“I'm Alex,” I reply automatically with the same tone of shyness.
“I've never met a girl called Alex before,” he says quietly and curiously. I smile to myself, most people I'd met knew it was a name for anyone regardless of gender yet he didn't.
“That's because I'm a boy,” I say simply with my hands on my hips. He looks a little confused but then he smiles back and nods, the sign that two small boys are friends now. We spend our summer running around the beach and hotel. It's outside the swimming pool when my mother's partner hears my friend call me Alex. I was trying not to cry as her partner, my step-father, was grabbing me by the hair and pulling me down the hallway to the hotel room. He forces me to stand in front of the mirror and shouts at me until I look directly at myself.
“Just because you're ugly enough to be a boy doesn't mean you are one, look is that boy?” I stay silent. “Is that a boy?” He repeats, angrier still.
“No.” I reply, forcing the tears to stay in my eyes. I don't understand what I've done wrong. He just keeps shouting at me until my mother returns, he explains to her what I've done. She tells him to leave, he slams the door so angrily I jump. She wipes away my tears, sits on the bed and picks me up onto her lap.
“Amelia, my darling,” she begins ruffling my hair slightly. “You have to grow out of this okay, it's not natural. Little girls don't do this sort of thing,”
“But why not?” I reply a little confused.
“They just don't. Little girls wear dresses and play with dolls and -”
“But I don't want to,” I whine back frustratedly.
“I know, but it's just a phase, darling. You'll grow out of it.”
I'm in high school now, sitting on my own at lunch in the art rooms. I'm attempting to work and pretending that this why I'm here. It's not because I don't have anywhere else to go. All of the boys my ages don't want some girl hanging around with them, all the girls won't associate with me. My tendency to throw my hair into a ponytail, not shave my legs and wear baggy clothes that hide my chest and hips gets me the nickname 'dyke' pretty quickly. I know that's not true. I fight back when the girls call me names or shove me into the walls. The teachers tell my parents not to worry, it's just a phase I'm going through.
I'm sixteen years old and stood undressed in front of the mirror. I'm trying to figure out what it is I hate the most about my body. My eyes keep going to my skinny arms, fat hips and the chest that I can't avoid. I know it's not the body I want but I can't quite figure out why, all I can place is it's feminine and weak. I turn around to pull my shirt back on and my poster of a shirtless Jim Morrison hits my eyes. Then it hits me, something I've always known deep down but tried to ignore. I finally have to accept what will make me happy, if I looked like that. The next day I try to explain this to my counsellor.
“Don't worry,” she begins, “this is just a phase. It happens to a lot of teenagers, your hormones are all over the place. You don't know where you belong.” I give up in frustration and slouch back into my chair. I don't say anything for the rest of the session, I know she's wrong. Everything I've read on the internet says there are people like me, I've spoken to people online like me. I desperately long for someone in real life to understand as I log into a website that night as Elliot.
I'm sat with my partner in a pizza place, twenty years old. I have the short back and sides I've wanted all my life. I sit there in a men's Hollister hoodie and baggy jeans. I'm still stuck in the bliss of having what I'd never thought I'd get, a gay man as my boyfriend. A guy who likes men... As my boyfriend. Evidence right in front of me that he sees me as a man, the person who makes all my dysphoria fade with a sentence. The people I've wanted all my life exist in this city now and none of them care. The place is split into the people who assume I'm biologically male and the ones who don't care and know I'm male regardless. He's the first person who has referred to me as his boyfriend, it makes me happy.
My parents refuse to talk to their son now, but I guess that's because it's just a phase I'm going through.