Talking with JC in the lab, she’s complaining about guys hollering at her out on the street, that it happens all the time, that it drives her nuts. She said it to me like of course I understood, but I had that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I nod and agree, but I don’t really know. She lives in a different world than I do. This has never happened to me. I don’t think it’s just that I’m ugly or that I don’t notice, but it might be.
At camp in the 5th grade, all the girls shave their legs. They talk about me when I’m out of the cabin, or before I get to the locker room. They get quiet when I come in and stare me down. I don’t know what they say. But I don’t want to shave my legs. I don’t want a bra. I don’t want to look like them. I just want them to stop being so mean. A sweet boy I never noticed asked me to the formal dinner. I look through him confused. “I don’t do that kind of thing.” It didn’t occur to me I might have hurt his feelings. I didn’t even know his name.
At acupuncture, desperate to ovulate, Li says over and over, week after week, “You are too much of a man, too much blood in the brain, too aggressive.” She got me to ovulate. She stopped my headaches. I got less angry. I got pregnant. Did she make me more of a woman? Did she know something about me that I couldn’t or wouldn’t see?
That girl I saw when I was 18 or 19 — I can’t remember her name — she liked me, but later, in bed, she turned away. A friend told me later that she said I was too much like a boy. What did that mean? Was I?
I’m the last one in my school to get a bra and they make fun of me whether I wear one or not. I’m so late to get my period, not until high school. I don’t want to talk about it. Not to my mom. Not to my sister. Not to anyone. I bleed for weeks and weeks. Sometimes so heavily I have to stay home or gush through a pad and tampon in the span of one class, waiting to leave the room until everyone else has gone. I go on and off of hormones. I want it all to go away.
I was about 19, out with Amy and her friends, the young queer kids. We were at some party, outside near a creek. I started to talk to this young kid, I thought she was a dyke. But he said actually he was trans, about 16 or 17 years old. He said a bit more, I don’t know what. My mind was spinning and I turned away. I had that sinking feeling. That deadness in my stomach. What was this and how did he know? Did he talk to me for a reason? He was the first one I met. Later I said to Carrie that I wondered if I might be like that. I didn’t know how to tell. I had friends. I could get into the gay bars. Girls would sleep with me. Better to leave well enough alone.
When people say “I always knew” I wonder if what some of them are really saying is “sometimes I might have known” or “there were times I chose not to know.”