She Who Was Never a Little Girl
By Mila Madison
I am in the back yard, wearing this little flowery dress my mom just put on me, spinning around in the long grass. I twirl around and the air picks it up. The freedom of that feeling. Picking the flowers and not a care in the world. I am at peace.
“THROUGHOUT MY CHILDHOOD I JUST KNEW I WAS WRONG. I COULDN’T EXPLAIN IT TO EITHER MYSELF OR ANYONE ELSE. I JUST KNEW. I WAS BORN WRONG.”
Then suddenly I wake, expeditiously pulled into a wave of reality as I begin to realize it was just a dream. The sadness, more accurately the disappointment of realizing that it is not to be. It would be followed with the questions of “what is wrong with me?” and “why is life so cruel?”. Throughout my childhood I just knew I was wrong. I couldn’t explain it to either myself or anyone else. I just knew. I was born wrong.
So I would bury it. I never heard anyone even come close to talking about anything like what was going on with me. I began to really know I was not like everyone else that I knew. I began to be afraid I would get in trouble for speaking about what was going on inside me. As childhood progressed, I learned what shame was. I also learned what an outcast was and saw how people were treated if they were different. I certainly did not want to be one, so I just buried it. I even did my best to convince myself that my reality was that I did not have these feelings.
What I did at such an early age was roll a metaphoric snowball down a giant hill. Little did I know that it would grow and grow as it rolled down and that someday I would be at the bottom of that hill. It would be so big and it would be too late to move out of the way once I realized what it was. It would eventually crash on me. It did.
So here I am in transition. I am a parent with her own daughters. I am a little older now, but in many ways I am physically and emotionally closer to my teenage daughter than I am my wife. In many ways I am a teenage girl, but with the life and responsibilities of some person I used to pretend to be. Part of me wants to let everything go and just be that teenage girl. It is just something I cannot do without it affecting everyone I love.
I watch my daughters grow into the amazing women they are becoming. Though I feel joy over every step they take as I watch them with a prideful eye, I cannot help but think about how I will never experience most of the things they do. I never had the sleepovers with my girlfriends, the dance classes, the mother daughter moments, Girl Scouts, proms and whichever stereotypical female childhood experiences you could insert here. Though I wonder if things would be different if I had the courage to express what was going on with me when I was younger, there is not much I can do about that now. At least not for myself.
Last week, jahn westbrook and I went to see Janet Mock at New York University. She talked about how she was unable to see a representation of herself in society or the public eye when she was younger. There was no one to look to who represented who and what she was. She was alone. This thought has been bouncing around in my head ever since. I relate to it because when I was younger there was no one one I could find who was like me. It was a lonely feeling. It made me afraid to talk about the things that were going on in my head. I was unable to explain it. I had no example to compare it to.
“NOBODY WANTS TO BUY COOKIES FROM A BOY IN A DRESS.”
So then I hear about this 9 year old Girl Scout named Stormi, who happens to be transgender. In an article for BuzzFeed, Stormi shared her story of how a neighbor would not buy her Girl Scout cookies because she was transgender. “Nobody wants to buy cookies from a boy in a dress.” said this neighbor when she knocked on his door. Though upset over the treatment she received, she would not let the neighbor win. Stormi would go on to sell over 3,000 boxes of cookies.
Stormi, is everything I was afraid to be. She possesses a courage I could never have. It is possible that she may just be a strong kid. It also may be because she is now able to see herself in society. She can look at a Laverne Cox, a Janet Mock or a Jazz Jennings and see someone like herself. She is beginning to be represented in our culture. Now young transgender girls and boys can look at Stormi’s story and identify with it. It just simply was not there when I was her age.
As for the dream, it would follow me throughout my entire life. Even to this day. I often wondered if it would ever go away as I transitioned, but it hasn’t. I cannot go back and change it. What I can do is make sure I don’t miss anything else going forward by sitting around feeling sad for myself. I guess that is the message I am trying to convey here. Start living and don’t waste anymore time. Go be yourself now before you miss out on another moment. Take solace that by doing so you allow another person to see themselves in society.
Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!
Love and peace,