…the mind does not.”
We don’t change. We grow, we evolve, we mature, but we don’t change. Not really. Not when it comes to this side of us.
When it comes to my gender identity I have been who I am for decades, for my entire life. We do understand who we are more as time passes, our style grows, we may move beyond underdressing to “real” clothes. We may identify with different labels, but really, we are the same person that we were when we were kids wanting to wear that pretty dress.
Memory is an interesting thing. Sometimes I can’t recall how a book ended or a conversation with my boss, but when it comes to significant moments in my (ugh) journey, those memories are as clear as day. I can recall perfectly the first time I tried on a bra. The first time in heels, my first wig. I can remember being in kindergarten and wanting so badly to wear the princess gown in the dress up closet. I never did wear it, not because I thought it was unusual or wrong to do so, but because I was taught that boys don’t wear dresses. This is a perfect example of being taught something, but not learning it. It’s funny and a little sad being five years old and realizing that if I wanted to wear “girl clothes” I needed to do so in secret.
I wasn’t alone in who I was then, and I am not alone now. There have been and will always be boys like me. Boys like who I was when I was five grow up to be adults like who I am. A boy wanting to wear a dress or makeup or heels isn’t going through a phase. It’s not something they grow out of. They are learning who they are. And some of them are showing the world who they are. Sadly most of them are being told that who they are is wrong.
I have friends who are parents and I have friends who are teachers. Every once in a while they mention a boy in their class, or in their child’s class who plays dress up. They shrug, they don’t think it’s a big deal. Most of my friends are open-minded and supportive of the LGBTQ+ community, so going outside of the cis/hetero norms isn’t unusual for them. When I listen to them talk about these kids I wonder if they know that I was the same as them. They will grow up to me someone like me. But when does it become “weird”? Kids are just playing, right? Nope. Yes, it’s a little atypical to see a boy running around in a dress, but he’s not just pretending. The perceived innocence is adorable. But he is not pretending. That is who he is. That is who he will grow up to be.
I was that boy. And now I am who I am. I always was.