It was the dress rehearsal dinner for my cousin’s wedding. Casual clothes for everyone in attendance; it was a hot California day, with a grimy rock outcropping just beyond the grassy seating area.
I’d managed to play chicken with my mother to get my hair cut shorter than my jawline. My shirt was baggy enough to conceal the growing chest I fought by way of multiple sports bras. And so as a gaggle of boys scrambled their way to the outcropping to play, I raced after. It was the age of cooties and “no girls allowed”, so my name I kept locked behind my teeth. They never asked and they never noticed.
I bounded up to my mother afterwards, saying how much fun it was that they all treated me like a boy.
Things like this were what made adults in my life terrified that I’d grow up to be a lesbian. I wasn’t allowed to cut my hair like the boys because People Would Think Things™. “I’m not gay”, I would say years later to gasps of relief, only to add, “but I don’t want to be perceived as a girl.”
Oh, the reassurances rushed in – there’s so many ways to be a woman, you don’t have to be girly – but the fact remained. Young or old, gathering with extended family or browsing the feminine product aisle at Walmart, being mistaken for a boy felt like home.Read More