The Musings of a TransGirl in a Crazy World – Kit Sherrin
The Musings of a TransGirl in a Crazy World
Living in the Past
I only told a select few people about how I felt inside. I would watch the neighborhood girls play together, and I longed to play with them, as I have said before. The neighborhood boys would play in the mud, which I had no interest in, while the girls enjoyed just enjoyed playing pretend and with their dolls. I was allowed action figures and such, but it just wasn’t the same. The boys would run off to play “war” and “cowboys and Indians” and it just wasn’t my thing. Once, we were playing the Dukes of Hazzard with my cousins, a boy and a girl, and a neighbor kid. The neighbor and my male cousin chose to play as Bo and Luke Duke. My female cousin wanted to be Daisy, but dammit, I wanted to be Daisy too. In the end, I think I wound up having to be one of the cops or something. Story of my life.
I was a popular kid. I had a girlfriend named Stephanie, and we were the toast of Kindergarten at Waverly Park Elementary. Arguments would abound on the playground at recess. Star Wars was big at the time and the playground was a battlefield of Rebel and Empire troops battling for supremacy. Alliances were forged, treaties were broken. It was amazing. I was always picked to play Luke Skywalker. I guess because I was blonde, and Stephanie was always supposed to be Leia. At the time, none of us knew or realized that they were siblings, and figured they were in a relationship. This is when things became complicated.
Mrs. Kime was an amazing teacher. She is one of the few that I still remember their name. She overheard the argument that day and intervened rather quickly. I had picked that moment to commit popularity suicide. I had announced to everyone on the playground that I was tired of being Luke, and I wanted to be Leia. The laughter and the taunting that came after was terrible. They backed me up to the slide and kept calling me a sissy, they called me names. Names that six-year-old kids shouldn’t have known, let alone heard before. I was crying and terrified. Some kids threatened to beat me up. I was so scared. The teacher came in the nick of time.
She shooed the other children away from me. Bullying wasn’t tolerated. She grabbed my hand and walked me inside to the classroom. She sat me down in front of her desk and just looked at me. I could see the concern and the care in her eyes.
“What happened, sweetie?” She asked, her tone sounding motherly and wholesome.
I immediately started crying harder. I explained to her that I did not feel like a boy, and that I wanted to be Princess Leia, and everyone made fun of me. I told her that it wasn’t fair, and that I didn’t start it. I begged her not to tell my parents and she agreed, but she still wanted to offer me some insight.
“Honey, you cannot be Leia, because you’re not a girl” She said this with even more concern, but still very loving. “Boys cannot be Princesses.”
I told her I didn’t want to be a boy, that boys were gross, and I hated them.
She sighed. It seemed like it took forever for her to say anything. She leaned back in her chair, and in retrospect, I feel like she was contemplating her words, as the situation made her more than uncomfortable.
“It’s just a phase. You’ll grow out of it. It’s okay. A lot of people explore different things. It doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. You’ll grow out of it.”
She couldn’t have been more wrong.
There were a couple of neighborhood boys that would come by and try and get me to play with them. They were nasty kids, a few years older, and very dysfunctional. I am actually pretty sure they wound up in prison eventually. Since they were older, I regarded them as cool and wanted them to like me. They would talk about torturing horny toads and smashing frogs. Things that I found barbaric and cruel, but for some reason I wanted them to be friends with me. Maybe it was because I was an only child and there weren’t many kids outside of school to play with.
We were talking one day, I believe it was summer break, and I said I liked a girly cartoon. I was met with the usual “That’s a girl cartoon, you can’t like that!”. It was then that I let it slip. I told them that I didn’t want to be a boy, that I should be a girl. I remember they didn’t say a word but passed a knowing look between them. Immediately, they knew what they were going to do.
I did not know what grooming was then, but I know now. They began the questions. “Why do you feel like that?”, “Are you sure you are supposed to be a girl”, and the one that really disturbed me, “You know what girls are supposed to do, right?”. I had no idea what they meant. These kids were around ten and twelve, and after what they did to me, I am positive that they were molested as well. They told me this is how I was supposed to act. That this is what girls were supposed to do. That girls and women, according to their father, were supposed to do whatever boys wanted. They said If I wanted to be a girl, then they would treat me like one.
It began innocently enough. First with kisses, pecks really. This evolved into what they called “Frenchy” kissing. I thought it was perfectly normal. It progressed to other things. Things that a child that young should never be exposed too. The sexual abuse and shame I suffered at the hands of these two still haunt me. I have nightmares decades afterwards. I was made to do things that I did not want to. I couldn’t tell anyone, because as my father said, no “queers” allowed. I knew if I told anyone about the abuse it would get back to him. These boys had told me that it was my fault, and I believed them, Hell, part of me still feels like I caused it. They threatened to tell him, and he would either beat me, disown me, or kill me. Maybe all three. It continued for quite a while. I hated myself, I begged to wake up in the right body, thinking the things they did to me would hurt less if I was in the right body. I knew I was a girl inside, always have, I just thought this was something we all had to endure.
They continued grooming me, if you want to call that. Secret meetings at the clubhouse. They would often take me into the pipes in Mary’s creek and make me perform for them. It was terrible. I began to cringe every time I would see them on their bicycles coming down my street.
This continued until we moved. I was convinced that this was all my fault. All I would have had to do was shut up and keep my secret. I could try to be a boy. I could learn to like being a male. In some roundabout childlike mindset of “Fake it, till you make it” I thought that maybe, just maybe, I would wake up in a girl body and this would all fix itself. I would go to sleep at night imagining my mom coming into my room and being thrilled that suddenly she had a little girl.
I would dream of dances and being a mom one day. I would be free. One day, my Father would accept me, and he would walk me down the aisle and give me away. I envisioned Daddy/Daughter dances. All I wanted was to be loved for who I was. They didn’t really speak of gender dysphoria back then, but it sure raged hard in my mind.
The abuse continued, each neighborhood that we moved into was a nightmare, worse than the one before. There would always be someone who would be exploit and abuse me, and I was always fearful of telling my father. We moved to Washington when I was 11. Sadly, more abusers would appear. It started with the parents of another kid, Jacob, in our apartment complex. I don’t know if I put out this “hey, sexually abuse me” vibe or what. I started hanging out with this kid, and we had a whole lot in common. I would go over after school and play Nintendo with him. Hours were spent trying to find Zelda and keep Mario alive.
We were watching The Little Mermaid one afternoon while I was over. Not knowing any better I said something along the lines of “I wish I could be her.” I truly did want to be her. The irony I see in that movie now is not lost on me. A mermaid, wishing to be a real girl. That is all she wanted. It was my favorite, and still is, Disney movie. Years later, my wife would make me aware of the link and similarity of that movie and my very own feelings.
That’s all it took. The father, who we will refer to as Rich, registered what I had said. He didn’t bring it up until a few days later. I sat there continuing to watch our cartoon. I had been flying a kite in the field that was part of the complex. He approached me nervously.
“Hey kid, what did you mean the other day when we were watching the mermaid thing?”
I can still smell the stale cigarette smoke on his breath.
“Nothing,” I stammered, realizing that he knew, “What do you mean, mister?”
“You said you wanted to be her. What, do you want to be a girl?” He smiled, and it seemed to be caring and full of understanding
I confessed everything, I told him that I had always felt that way. That it wasn’t fair, because I wasn’t and never would be a boy. I didn’t want to be a boy, nor did I understand boys. He told me that he could help with that. That when I came over, I could be whoever I wanted to be. He even checked my shirt size and pants size so I could “Dress as myself” as he put it. He told me to come over and play later. He said he would go to Fred Meyer and pick me something out.
When I arrived, Rich presented me with a shopping bag with girl’s clothes. Skirts, and ribbons, and everything. I was so excited. I honestly thought I had found an adult who understood, who would accept me as a girl. I ran into the bathroom to change. I came out of the bathroom in a skirt short combo. I remember lots of Pink and Pastel. I was in heaven, and shortly it would be hell. He sat me down on the couch and put his hand on my knee. His voice came out stern, and with authority.
“Okay, so basic rules, you don’t tell anyone about what we let you do here. If you tell, you won’t be able to come over anymore. You will not take your new clothes out of the house. Not even your panties. That stays here, so your dad doesn’t find out.”
His words sounded simple. I could do this, I thought to myself. I can be me! I told him yes. I could keep a secret. That I would do what I was told, and I wouldn’t disappoint him. He smiled and ran his hand up my skirt a little further. It was at this moment, I realized that I was in the exact same trouble I was before. He placed me on his lap and kissed me on the neck. I felt that it was wrong, that this was all bad and I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t my clothes were in the bathroom and I dare not leave wearing this.
Shortly thereafter, Jacob arrived with his mother, and they entered the room to find my sitting Rich’s lap. Strangely, they didn’t seem mad. I remember thinking how odd it was that I was sitting on Rich’s lap while he felt my body, and his wife and kid acted like everything was normal. He told Jacob that he had found a girlfriend for him and now we could all have fun together. Thus, began a spiral into a world of exploitation and self-loathing. They made me do so many things with them, and it wasn’t just once, it was an ongoing thing until we moved away. They would make their child and I perform for them. I can still hear them telling me that I needed to “come on, take it like a real girl.” The parents of the kid in the apartment would give me things to smoke, heroin maybe, and it made what they made us do to each other seem like a dream, like it didn’t matter.
That same apartment complex turned into my own personal hell. It was here that my parents’ marriage fell apart. I spent the night at my friend’s house one night. His sister had her college roommate with her visiting. For whatever reason, they thought it appropriate to get a couple of twelve-year-old kids high and drunk and it was this that loosened my inhibitions and I professed to everyone that I was, indeed, a girl deep down. This made the roommate, who was 19 at the time, feel that I needed to just be shown that I wasn’t, and she was going to teach me.
She took me to the back room and made me undress her and myself. I panicked, I ran home crying, because I just didn’t want to be touched anymore, everyone wanted me to either prove I was a girl or not, and it wasn’t fair. I figured my father would be asleep, but I was wrong. I told him what happened, leaving out my gender identity, hoping that he would help me. He laughed at me. He said that I needed to “Stop being a pussy and get back to it.” That he “wasn’t raising a little bitch and to go do my job.” I never have felt so alone and betrayed. The abuse I had been through up to this point was nothing compared to the feeling that my dad, who was supposed to help me, threw me to the wolves.
So, I went back and let it happen. The next day, dad “celebrated” the occasion and made me drink with him. A little while later, mom and dad finally split. I remember vividly the relief that I felt that he was gone. I’ve never told anyone that until this moment. I had this stupid idea that I could tell my mom, that I was her daughter and that they had made a mistake, but she was so hurt, and so grateful that she had her “son” by her side. I just couldn’t. I began acting out, getting violent, I was spiraling into depression. I used drugs and alcohol to numb myself. So, I figured, why not. I started running away at this point. I was 14. At first it was just taking a bus to Seattle and hanging out with the street kids, skipping school to be with my tribe of outcasts. It would turn into so much more.