“Sophie. Sophie, IS THAT YOU? Sophie, WHERE ARE YOU?”
“Sophie, you weren’t home when I got home,” you yelled while scurrying across the house. “Why weren’t you here to meet me?”
There you were, staring at me from across the hall in your favorite formal gown that was completely drenched in mud. Dirt lingered across your eyebrows and your cheeks were still wet from Mama’s attempt at cleaning you up. Today, she took you to a wedding on the farm of a family friend. You chose to wear the whitest and fanciest outfit in your wardrobe, and then proceeded to play in it as hard as you could.
There is this thing that cisgender people assume about my life as a transgender woman: that before I transitioned, I had male privilege. According to their interpretation of my body, the male privilege I acquired during puberty and freely used all the way up through my transition currently and forevermore informs and invalidates my understanding of what it means to be a “real” girl, and subsequently a “real” woman.
The problem here lies in one very flawed, cissexist assumption: that a girl designated male at birth (i.e. a transgender girl) experiences puberty just like a boy designated male at birth (i.e. a cisgender boy).This assumption also implies that transgender girls and transgender women experience their bodies in the same way that cisgender boys and cisgender men do. This logic is biological determination at its best, and transmisogyny at its worst.
So I implore you, my gentle readers, to consider the following. Consider what your life would feel like if you inhabited a different body than the one you have now, a body that didn’t “match” the gender you know you are. Think about that for a moment, and then travel back in time with me– to puberty.
I had been running away from my entire life, and Olympia was supposed to be just another temporary stop. Your mama was ten minutes late. I was twenty minutes early. It’s only coffee, I thought. I’ll meet her for coffee and leave. At the time, I was pretending to find a place to live, a place to stay in case I wanted to stick around. I had no idea this was such a critical moment in my time stream. I didn’t know you were the beginning of, well, everything.
You gave me this glance, peering from behind a beloved oversized purple rain jacket that faithfully served as your shield. Those big blue eyes looking up at me, curiously outlining the awkward shape of my body behind an orange gingham dress. There was a bit of a hesitation… for both of us. I was your first giant. You were my first kiddo. Neither of us quite knew what to do with each other.
That’s when I started bouncing. I hopped up and down and up and down, until my everything hurt. It was worth it. You laughed and joined in on the adventure. Soon we hobbled our way into the grocery store, laughing and smiling and being.
We had an understanding, you and I. Almost like we always had an understanding, before either of us even existed.