Featured image description: A comic of a cartoon brain with eyes and a mouth fills the top left box. The context is Childhood. The brain says, “Why do you keep wishing you were a boy?” To the right of the brain box is a box of a person lying in bed with their eyes closed, saying, “It’s probably just crushes. I can’t be a boy.” The bottom left box has the context of the year 2021, and the brain says, “You can be a boy.” Next to this box is the last box in the comment, with the same person lying bed, their eyes wide open in a panic. The room is dark, so their eyes really stand out.
A dear friend of mine recently sent me an incredible article, full of stories about queer kids who had the opportunity to fully embrace themselves at Camp I Am (closed in 2018). I only made it past a couple of the kids’ stories before I found myself sobbing.
Why am I crying? Am I not ecstatic for these children?
It wasn’t a question of if I was happy or not for these kids. Instead, my body was recognizing my grief before my brain could figure out what was happening.
While my parents did what they thought best, and I was provided for, my upbringing wasn’t entirely supportive. That is to say, I was supported, but my parents only supported their ideal version of what they wanted me to be, and not who I actually was. In fact a lot of the time I was punished for who I was/wanted to be. After reading about how these young queer people had the opportunity to experience a piece of the world free of the bullshit—sexism, homophobia, transphobia—and had the resources to build a healthy support network to explore themselves within…something just broke down within me.
While allowing children to take hormone blockers (and then hormones after puberty) as gender-affirming healthcare is relatively, to my knowledge, a newer practice (and thank the gods at all!), part of me wonders what life would have been like had I had the supportive environment I needed growing up. If external culture and internal familial life had been aligned with less judgment, more understanding, and more dismantling of the patriarchal structures society perpetuates, I’d probably be a fully transitioned “boy” today (hormone therapy, and top surgery if needed).
Socially speaking, I wanted to be a boy. Growing up I hated dolls, skirts and tights, and socializing the ways little girls do. Everyone was so cliquey, and most of them often didn’t want to play sports, get dirty playing in the woods, or include me in general (I was a weird, awkward kid). My peers always found ways to let me know that I was an outsider and did not belong. I always got along better with the boys and loved what the boys got to do, but once gendering really set it, I wasn’t always welcomed with them either.
I never cared about physicality until puberty hit. By then, I was deeply conditioned to accept that I was a girl—any attention I got from the boys was good attention, even though it felt wrong. It felt wrong because I was taught any of that was sinful, but at the same time, there was always something more that I just couldn’t put my finger on.
Another friend just today relayed the idea (from a repost on Hank Green’s TikTok) that gender is like a non-Newtonian fluid. What is a non-Newtonian fluid, you ask?
A non-Newtonian fluid is a fluid that does not follow Newton’s law of viscosity, i.e., constant viscosity independent of stress. In non-Newtonian fluids, viscosity can change when under force to either more liquid or more solid. Ketchup, for example, becomes runnier when shaken and is thus a non-Newtonian fluid.– Wikipedia
I guess my gender is ketchup now 😂 [laugh-cry emoji].
But in all seriousness, as a child and into adulthood, I adopted “womanhood” because I was told that was my only option based on my physical sex. There was (and is) all this pressure to conform to the binary and not question why. But even as a kid I didn’t believe in it. I didn’t see its validity, as all humans are capable of so many things, men and women alike. And come to find in my late twenties, there are more options outside of (and within) the binary! Everything started to make sense once that knowledge was attained. I am a non-Newtonian liquid. Once I relieved myself of the pressure (brainwashing) of the binary, I came back to my fluid self.
Now that I understand myself to be autigender nonbinary, I can say with certainty that if I must be a human, having a penis and no breasts would suit me better than having what I was born with. I have a deep desire to look like a cis man, meaning I technically desire to be on testosterone. But there’s no chance of me seeking hormone therapy because I cannot risk losing my vocal range and tone quality. I’ve waited all my life to have the singing voice I have now, and I’m too scared of taking T because it’s almost guaranteed to change my voice. I’m also too scared of getting surgery because what if I don’t actually like the change? It’s taken me a long time to get accustomed to the sensitivity of the bits I’ve got. I don’t want to lose that now, even if I don’t like having the bits themselves. Honestly I wish I could just be bitless. No genitals or secondary sex characteristics. Just a plain human body, full of nothing but ambition and love. But all that being said, even with a “transitioned” body, I would still identify as nonbinary. I have no desire to actually be a man.
So to answer the question the title purposes, no, I am not a boy. And generally speaking I don’t have the desire to be a boy, though I do sometimes prefer the “masculine” pronouns he/him. Had things been different growing up—where people would have understood there are more than 2 genders and gender-affirming healthcare is appropriate—I’d probably have no breasts, a deeper voice, and more regular use of he/him pronouns, but I still wouldn’t be a boy. If anything I’d be a *nonbinary* boy.
In this timeline though? I’ll settle for the knowledge that I am perfectly valid the way I am, and will continue practicing self-compassion and acceptance for the things I cannot change. Oh, and get some new ink. That helps.
…Care to help with my dysphoria? Add to my “new ink” fund —> @thequeercult on Venmo and firstname.lastname@example.org on PayPal. Many thanks and much love 💜