Boys and Girls and all that’s In-Between

Lastcrazyhorn at 16

Meet my younger self. I am female, but perhaps it’s not very obvious in this picture. Would you believe it if I told you I was 16 in this picture?

It’s true, I was. That was taken in 2001. You do the math.

This whole post is Shiva’s fault. He started it. Okay, well, according to him, I started it, but that was purely unintentional. The only Shiva I had ever heard of before was Lady Shiva, from the Batman world.

Then again, nearly everyone online thinks I’m a guy.

Shiva refers to himself as “genderqueer.” The problem here was that I wasn’t 100% positive that I understood its meaning. So I went and looked it up. Basically, from what I understand, it refers to someone who does not fit in with their specific gender’s traditions, styles, social requirements . . . whatever. It doesn’t have anything to do with your sexual identity (unless you just want it to). You can be straight and genderqueer even.

See, the whole gender stereotypical behavior thing has always been a sticking point in my craw. The length of my hair in this picture is actually long compared to where it was when I was in the 8th grade. I mean, it was above the ears in the 8th grade.

Unlike some girls who wear their hair short, I just wasn’t into the whole gel/hairspray thing. So my hair was just like me, as is. That’s not the only difference between me and other girls though.

As a result of my isolation from other kids (I didn’t have a best friend until I was in college), I missed out on certain aspects of society that most simply can’t believe. My musical knowledge reflects this. In the sixth grade, I was firmly entrenched in the world of cassette tapes. Think 1995-1996. I had this thing about making mixed tapes. The results of these efforts were . . . interesting . . . to say the least. I still have a few of these tapes somewhere under the seats of my car, I think. I would do things like stick on the 1812 overture directly after a song by Van Morrison. My musical knowledge was definitely limited. The only music that I really listened to, other than movie scores, was pre-90s music; and even that was limited, as it was only via mixed tapes that my brother had made and given to me. I knew REM, The Talking Heads, Van Morrison, Abba, Queen, The Canadian Brass, Tchaikovsky, Mannheim Steamroller, They Might Be Giants, John Mellencamp . . . and a few others here and there. I also liked the score from the Lion King, which I went to sleep listening to every night for more than a year.

I had never listened to the radio until the late 90s. I didn’t find the Internet until ’99.

One of the first cds that I ever owned was a Canadian Brass one; second to that came the score from X-Files: Fight the Future. Meanwhile, all the girls in my classes were into rap, country or worse, boy bands. The closest that I got discovering the world of pop in the 90’s was when my mother bought 2 Sheryl Crow CDs. Oh and then I got into Chumbawumba.

By the time I was 16, I had discovered Cher, Fleetwood Mac and Creed. I was also addicted to the online game, “Alchemy.”

As a pre-teen and teenager, the things that I filled my free time with were books, movies (only certain ones and those we rented from the video place so many times, that my mother eventually bought), certain types of music, daydreaming, Legos, K’Nex (you should have seen me when I started building robots), The X-Files, Simpsons, Batman: The Animated Series, stuffed animals, tetris, band, my church youth group, did I mention books? . . .

Nowhere in there would you find make-up, dressing up, boy obsessing (other than X-Files and Batman men types), socializing, partying, drinking, drugs, shaving, getting hairdos, caring about my nails, wearing pastels or liking scented bath oils. Girls couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get into that; more than that however, they seemed to take my general dismissal of their obsessions as an affront to their very beings.

One year while at camp, several of the older girls decided that they were going to “make me pretty” by dressing me up and doing makeup, and then, once I saw how great it was, then I would love it and always want to do it. I don’t know; I’m just guessing at the latter bits.

For one thing, I was an odd size and didn’t fit into regular girl clothes for the longest time. That, and my general dislike for them anyways, led my mother to buy most of my clothes in the boy’s section.

So, this one particular evening at camp, I get accosted by several girls (at least six); almost all of whom are older and bigger than me. It was similar to being jumped by a gang in a dark street in a big city. They dragged me down the hall when I said that I wasn’t interested. I don’t take well to being dragged. I went into full meltdown mode. I kicked, spat and punched my way out of the throng. For years afterwards, one girl would constantly bring up the fact that I had punched her one year at camp.

One year, while on a mission trip in Memphis, I believe, the subject of shaving legs came up in a conversation with some other girls. Somehow I let it slip that I didn’t shave, and was met with looks of utter shock tinged with horror and some disgust. One girl even told me that when I was sleeping, she was going to shave my legs for me in my sleep. I threatened bodily harm for that.

I also find it interesting the number of people who feel it is their civic duty to keep any potential boys out of girls’ restrooms. I can’t tell you the number of times that I was verbally attacked in the bathroom for how I wasn’t “supposed to be HERE.” Little kids would stare, sometimes pushing their way under my stall door and yelling at me to get out. Kind little old grannies would bar the door and not let me enter, while shooting me glares of death. And even when no one said anything, I could feel them staring at me, thinking “that doesn’t belong HERE.” I got very adept at looking, but not seeing, when I walked into a bathroom. I got very fast at what I was doing too. I’m the fastest pee-er in the west. Heh.

And still, I would get those talking to’s by well-meaning folk who weren’t willing to understand that if a child says “I belong here. I’m a girl;” it wasn’t an affront to their basic humanity just to take the chance to believe me.

When I would walk down the halls of my middle school, I would hear kids whispering after me; asking each other “What is THAT? Is that a boy or a girl? It’s an IT. It’s a SHIT. ” I would always have to be wary of kids in the hallway trying to trip me or push me or hurt me. I got pushed down some concrete stairs once. On my bus, they threw broken glass at me and refused me the right to sit in a seat like them. Luckily I had my french horn with me constantly (another difference–what is THAT?) and would often sit on that in the aisle.

That bus was also the place where people would laugh if the bus driver missed my stop; where I found myself honing my already considerable hypervigilence skills to all new levels; a place where I played a game of tightrope with the other kids, always nearly slipping up, people hitting me, laughing at me, bantering at me in ways that I had no way of responding to. The bus was where I received death threats; kids saying that they would come to my house and kill me in my sleep, because, after all, they did know where I lived.

All this primarily stemming from the fact that I wasn’t following the path of what the normal stereotypical girl was.

From grade 7-11, I refused to wear dresses. I had had it with my mother trying to dress me up like her living breathing doll; I was tired of her trying to find ways for me to be accepted via more “normal” methods of being.

I was tired of always watching my back; knowing that if someone laughed, it was probably a joke about me; knowing that other kids were using me as their own personal punching bag to take their stresses and pains out on. When I sat down at a table, other kids got up and left. Other kids would often choose to sit in the floor rather than sit in the last chair open in the room, the one that so happened to be right next to me.

I discovered Steppenwolf through Star Trek: First Contact. I discovered the meaning of the word “claustrophobia” and Vanilla Ice from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I discovered the Russian Easter Festival Overture from a marching band demo CD. I discovered Jefferson’s Airplane from the movie, “The Game.” I figured out what the F-word meant when I was 14, as a result of flipping my mother off inadvertently (she had to explain to me that showing your middle finger was a Bad Thing). I discovered Michael Jackson from the Internet. I discovered the Beatles from the David Gerrold book, “Leaping to the Stars.” I discovered Techno from the Lost in Space soundtrack. I discovered Liam Neeson from Star Wars:

While in a store, this interchange took place between my mother and me:
Me: Look [at the picture on the front of a magazine]. It’s Qui-Gon!
Mom: Who’s Qui-Gon? Look, there’s Liam Neeson!
Me: Who’s Liam Neeson???

 

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on January 1, 2008.

11 Responses to “Boys and Girls and all that’s In-Between”

  1. i’m glad you posted this, especially since people assume we, disabled people in general, don’t experience sexuality and gender identity.

  2. Thanks. 🙂

  3. Good post- I’m curious as to how your experiences with the teasing and such have shaped you in your early adult years?

    Also- you may now be the coolest chick I know. Nobody knows who TMBG are! I’m still a huge fan..

  4. That’s a cool photo. You could actually be a boy or a girl, and anywhere between the ages of about 10 and 18 (well, probably the somewhat younger ages for a boy and the somewhat older for a girl).

    I think that, as well as being likely to be gender-ambiguous, autistic people are also far more difficult than NTs to tell the age of…

    BTW, Kay (of The Gimp Parade) thought i was female before you did… it took you doing the same before i decided to make a full blog post of it, tho 😉

    (Actually, i’d been planning to write about autism and gender identity for a while, but you and Kay were the catalyst for the particular take i chose on it… weird how blogging works like that)

    There are a whole lot of trans and intersex people out there who your school experiences would really powerfully resonate with (bits of it resonate with me too, if not quite so much the directly gender-related stuff). I’m often astounded by the closeness of the parallels of autistic people’s and trans/intersex people’s experiences (see this older blog post).

    Oh yeah, the toilet stuff reminded me of this as well…

  5. This really touched me in a couple of ways. One, I have a daughter with classic autism and we are coming up on the ages where the things you talk about in all your posts matter. And I have a daughter who has always looked gender-ambiguous, with the short hair cut and the large ear-piercing; she’s now grown and very happily lesbian with a great partner. But she’d had boyfriends occasionally in school. I really appreciate your willingness to post about yourself–what a blessing for those of us trying to raise children who are different but happy with themselves!

    babs

    p.s. I added you to my blogroll; I hope you don’t mind.

  6. Mommy Dearest, that is a good question and a good idea for a post! I’ll poke you when it happens. 🙂

    Shiva – *whistles* There are times that I’m glad my experiences aren’t unique, but at the same time, I wouldn’t wish my middle school experiences on anyone.

    Awalkabout – Cool, I added you too. I’m trying to let people see that autism isn’t a death sentence, and that while we do tend to experience bad things, we can still turn out okay. 🙂

  7. Oh good lord, I could have written this! (minus the part with the short hair, I hate, absolutely hate having mine cut more than 1-2x a year so it has always been long and in a braid) Dresses, shaving, school bus harassment, hallway harassment, kids threatening your life (you family’s life, your pet’s life) after they ‘know where yoy live’ etc. Thank you for posting it! Now if only those who had done the harassment (or people who may be doing it now or in the future) would ever read it, that would be the best.

  8. Well, I did recently write Hillary Clinton about it . . . now to see if she responds.

  9. OMG! You are sooo cool!

    Voluptuous pupils! (Yeah, I know that’s the next or previous post — I don’t remember which direction I’m going but I’m mentioning it now anyway).

    I think I should explain the “sooo cool” remark. Just looking at your taste in things — I see random matches with mine and things I haven’t explored. From the matches, I can bet that I like things that you like which means the unexplored are new things that there is a fair chance I will like.

    I made a mistake. I came to this place last this evening. I have to sleep now. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

    P.S. I’ve changed my name yet again. I’m thinking that people want to address me as YOU since calling me ME will be a bit weird. Of course, are welcome to call me BGG or BONGO or CiB or something entirely of your own invention.

  10. Yeah, “ME” is a touch odd for ME.

  11. […] may not be straight. It doesn’t matter, because that’s not the point. I point towards a picture of me at a significantly younger […]

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