Accepting the “Lost” Childhood

Bailey C.

Now that I’m about to hit the 2 ½ year mark on T, I’m looking back at all the ways my life has changed. There is one period of my life that just seemed to come out of nowhere, and I haven’t yet found any stories similar to what happened to me. To put it short, I went through a period of regression to try to make up for my “lost years.”

Just a few months before I had started HRT, I developed a very strong addiction to the Disney movie, Frozen. I felt like letting go of the past, and becoming stronger was what I could relate to. However, that was far from what was happening. I was becoming increasingly agitated and furious over thinking about my childhood. As I dwelled on the toys I never had, the clothes I never wore, and the pronouns that I never uttered in reference to myself; my anger towards my parents and the rest of the world grew.

That’s how I found myself sitting in my car in a Toys R Us parking lot one summer day, crying my eyes out. After a childhood of Barbie dolls and toy makeup kits, I figured I needed to experience the “boy” toys. As I walked up and down the aisles, eyeing the Hot Wheels and the pricey Nerf guns, all that could come to my mind was concern over the price and my own personal funds. This reminded me of the dreaded truth that my shift at a local Panera was later that evening. Unable to shake the thoughts of “adult responsibilities” from my mind is how I ended up purchasing a single Hot Wheels and going back to my car and calling my fiancé (then-boyfriend) and crying about how I couldn’t get back the “wasted years” I spent as a young girl. I particularly was upset at how I never had my own video game systems of any sort, even though I never had much interest in them to begin with.


Now to be fair, I wasn’t entirely unhappy with the toys I had. I had an avalanche of Barbie stuff, including about forty-two dolls (and yes, I kept count). I had favorite ways to set them up and my bedroom floor was covered by the end of the night. They even all had names, as did my baby dolls, ever-growing collection of stuffed animals, and later my Polly Pocket dolls. Among these toys, I also had what some classify as “boys” toys- a handful of Hot Wheels cars, a few large containers of Legos, a tee-ball set, and a Razor scooter. I played with everything I had and never gave much thought to what was supposed to be for what gender.

It went beyond the toys- in my first years I got to spend time with the children of my parents’ friends. There never seemed to be an issue of gender. We played with the same toys and played some sports together. Hell, I even ended up wrestling with one of the boys (the match ended when I shamefully pulled the dirty move of biting his arm). I even played tee-ball as the only “girl” on the team.

So despite that I had a very androgynous selection of toys and play opportunities, I found myself angry and upset that I had missed out on so much. The afternoon ended when my fiancé took me to a local play-and-trade and got me a GameBoy Color and a few games that he played on it at a young age.

It didn’t make sense. It frustrated me and everyone around me. In relating to all things normally gendered, my childhood was pretty good. I was happy with what I had through the years- why was that suddenly different? Especially because I knew that there were many transgender people who were forced to be complete stereotypes of their assigned gender, with parents who would freak out if they dared do something that wasn’t a “gender norm.” I felt like they should be the ones having a breakdown over toys and games and not me!

There always had been a deep longing in the bottom of my heart; a longing to experience early life with a boys’ name and to be referred to as “he.” I knew it was there, but somehow it was an issue now. Maybe it was the nerves that bubbled in me with the knowledge that I’d be starting HRT in the months that followed. I was about to meet my first endocrinologist, and it was a big step with many conflicting emotions.


What made it much worse was that I couldn’t seem to find any other accounts of transgender people going through this. I still can’t, though I feel it might not often be referred to as “regression.” I’m beginning to see why it wouldn’t be; it was more like mourning what never was. Looking back, I feel like I went through the five stages of grief- denial (There was nothing I missed out on!), anger (I was never treated as a boy! I never had all the boy stuff!), bargaining (If I play with the toys now and maybe do some boy stuff like climb fences, I’ll be happy!), depression (see above about my parking lot crying fit), and eventually acceptance.

There wasn’t really a defining moment of acceptance; it came gradually over time. Within about two months of that day at Toys R Us, I had my first testosterone shot. I assume the introduction of HRT, and the hormones changing my body and balancing my mind had a lot to do with my coming to terms with it all.

To this day, I still wonder about what exactly happened and why it happened. As I mentioned, it’s not like I was forced in the cookie-cutter idea of my assigned gender, as so many others have had to live through. I also still feel like there must be others who have experienced this kind of grief period. If so, I feel as though we ought to address the topic. I feel that it’s another way we can further help each other to come to grips with the past and move toward the future.

Comments (2)
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This is very real. And I wasn't really prepared for it, either. My experience was very similar (complete with tears in the toy shop), and like you, I think that grief evolved into a form of acceptance and has become part of the wallpaper of my post-transition life. Buying 'boys' toys, and clothes, was very much over-compensation on my part for what I thought I had missed out on, but didn't really. It was a (very expensive) way of coping with those feelings, and I will admit it, fun too! I also have 2 young daughters, and so the feelings I experienced were very profound. As they move through the early stages of their lives (having developed their own preferences for very typically girly things), it only illustrated to me how very different things might have been for me if we had known then what we know now. I think that sense of 'loss' will always be there, but I'm okay with it I think.


I have helped hundreds of people start transition and it has to all of us. For some the period of reliving the lost childhood has lasted longer then others and some (like myself) have incorporated into our daily lives. I have pink everything, Disney everywhere, dolls, stuffies and other items I wasn't allowed to have as a child all over the place.

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