Life through age 10

This is not a complete biography. It is a brief account of some of the sexual orientation, gender and feminism-related events in my life. I don’t mean to hit every event in my life, not even every significant event. It is just a starting point.

Age 3.

My parents take me aside. They sit me down and tell me quite seriously that when I grow up, I can be absolutely anything I want to be. I think about it a minute and proclaim, “I want to be a daddy!”

“Except that,” they say. “But you can be a mommy.”

I cry inconsolably.

Age 5.

On our trip to visit my mother’s family in Gemany that year, she buys me a pair of lederhosen. When we go shopping for clothes, she outfits me with boy’s shoes. My hair is cut short, not falling below my ears.

Age 7.

I play with Matchbox cars and Lincoln Logs. Leon Toomey likes to come over to my house because he says I have all the boy’s toys.

My parents are true to their word. When I decide I want to be a professional baseball player, they don’t try to talk me out of it or suggest softball instead. My dad buys a bat, ball and glove and we head out to the back yard, but my career comes to an abrupt halt when I hit a “line drive up center” on my dad, felling him to the ground.

I’m panicked. I’ve just hurt him horribly, but I don’t know what I did. My dad is rolling on the grass, clutching his groin. “Daddy! I don’t know if you’re laughing or crying!”

He somehow manages to groan, “I don’t know, either.”

I run inside to tell my mom, who is hosting a get-together with her coworkers. I tell them what happened and what my dad said, and everyone starts to laugh. I’m mortified without even understanding why.

I never play baseball again.

Age 9.

This thing called puberty is coming. I know because my mom bought me a book. I’m told I’m going to get something called “my period” and I’m going to grow breasts. I can hardly wait, because it means I’m growing up.

That summer, my parents and I take a weekend trip. I swim in the pool while my parents nap, and we’re to meet at a certain time in the hotel’s bar. I get there early, and some older man buys me “a drink” — just a soda — and calls me pretty. My parents show up and swoop in to take me away.


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