“…those are also the formative experiences that many trans folks miss out on, at least as their true selves,” Sarah @ImSarahNotSarah
I just read this line smack dab in the middle of a fantastic blog post about friends, written by an amazing trans writer I follow. If you’d like to read her article please find it HERE. No seriously go read her article and come back to this one. I will wait. Open a second tab I am not going anywhere. Done? Good.
Let’s move on. I recently wrote about my circle of friends from age 12 recently. You can find that right over here if you want refresher.
That was my “Stand By Me” group. As I grew up trans also seeking my own identity I faced something slightly different than Sarah describes. Mostly because I moved so much I never found another circle quite like those in Miltonvale. I also realized over the years all the lost experiences I missed out on. That’s what I want to focus on today.
The first time I recognized I missed something other kids constantly talked about was all the way back in grade school. It was somewhere around 1st or 2nd grade when I asked my parents if I could join the Boy Scouts. I am pretty sure my sisters all did Girl Scouts so it was something I figured I would settle on. As it turns out for whatever reason, be it money or something else, the answer was a firm no. I never got to be a part of that group dynamic after school program. Not for a while at least.
I also missed out on sports. Because I had a fear of bullies, exercise and being hit with or hitting a ball I avoided sports at all costs. This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy playing the games, I loved playing baseball or basketball quite frankly to be honest, but I never could bring myself to join a team. My sisters all did and I had tremendous fun eating a hot dog or snacking some popcorn watching them play their games. But this was an experience I missed out on.
The sports thing carried over into high school. I tried out for basketball but didn’t stick with it. I say tried out for, it was a small school if you signed up you made the team. Our final roster was like 11 kids if I remember correctly. There were games they didn’t have enough to play. But I still would attend the games and cheer my school mates on. I never lacked in school spirit mind you. I just never could get involved in any groups.
I tried a few over the years. I signed up for 4H when I was 16. Can you guess what prompted me to pursue that? If you guessed a girl I liked you win a prize. I did get involved in band but I was a drummer so even though I was a part of the band, I was the silent soloist in the back nobody paid attention to. I don’t know why, drummers are cooler then everyone else. That’s a know fact.
What about politics? Or specifically high school popularity? Well my high school exists in a warp reality that makes the Twilight Zone jealous so Ill say even as an introverted freak not only was a popular, I was student council president. That’s a long story that involves fists and threats and criminal activity. I dare not dive into it here. What I will say is this, even that, a presumably common experience of being ON the student council, was not the usual path. There was no election. I signed up, nobody else did, they just gave it to me. Also I attended meetings but didn’t do the job I signed up for. I used it strictly as something to tell people I did. It furthered my own agenda nothing else. Oh sure I gave a speech, I signed documents, I counted the money, etc., but I hardly led that student body. In fact I mostly deferred that to my VP. She was a person I’ll certainly write about someday.
Then there was dating. I never dated. I “went out” with girls as in I’d ask a girl to be my girlfriend, she’s say yes, we’d hold hands for a day then “break up” and never speak again. I didn’t go on dates much with partners. I did kind of date a girl that was into me but it was my parents doing. They kept trying to set us up because they thought we were a “cute couple” but I wanted nothing to do with it.
What about prom, school dances, etc.? This was where I shined. Not only did I often DJ these events, and was requested because I was the best DJ that school ever had and I have references to prove it. I also was sorta good at getting dates for dances. I wasn’t a bad looking guy then. I was energetic, athletic-ish (I was in track and a breakdancer) but I was also the cool kid who had their own DJ equipment, including turntables, mics, mixers, keyboards, etc., so I had people mesmerized by my flashy ways. Even though I could get dates, and danced with a lot of girls, I never did prom right.
The first prom I went to was with that girl my parents set me up with, her name was Melissa Gilbert. She paid for my ticket in, my parents bought the clothes and her and I danced with other people we both would have preferred had taken us. I spent most of the night eating cake and drinking soda. Oh I was weird all right, I brought my own bottle of soda to prom.
Second prom I attended I went with a girl that was very complicated to say the least. I was mostly “in love” with her sister, while her and I hated one another. We ended up going because she was in 8th grade and needed a high schooler to take her and she also paid my way in. Likewise her and I never danced either. She went off to be with her friends, I danced with the girls I knew would dance with me.
Third prom, yes I went to three ha! This was a dirty move right out of a TV sitcom. I won’t tell the story but short version I had TWO dates to this one, ditch the lesser one and it didn’t end well for her. As for me, I had a blast and actually DID dance with my date and we dated the whole night, even dinner afterwards. That was one experience I did get to have, save the ya know after prom.
The list of experiences I missed out on keeps piling up. I dropped out of high school so I missed graduation. I dropped out of college so missed the cap and gown there too. I dropped out before finishing my track season so I failed to letter. I was on a sports team and missed getting the signature thing sports teams are known for. I remain a virgin to this day so I’ve missed out on sex. I never married so I’ve missed out on having a wedding. I never smoked weed so I missed out on getting high and doing something stupid. I’ve never skinny dipped, skydived or gone swimming in the ocean.
This is not to say I haven’t had my fair share of adventures, trust me I have, this is more like me recognizing the so-called “normal” stuff I never got to do.
As I look back on it yeah I have regrets. I regret not discovering I as trans sooner. I regret not burying my suffering and just doing fun things with my peers. I regret being in band and not taking that seriously. I especially regret dropping out of college when I was on the Deans list and had a 3.2 GPA.
Every life is different. That’s what I learned. As a writer, a.k.a story-teller, I’ve discovered every story is different. Every story is worth telling. My story has a lot of things I missed out on, but it includes a lot of exceptional stuff the “normal” people miss out on so I’d call it overall a fair trade. I have one more regret, not taking more time to be a better friend to those people who do let me into their lives. That’s why I wanted to write this article today. To show someone I know only slightly that while our lives are very different, we’re similar in other ways. I hope she will read this and appreciate my taking time to make a friendly gesture. In the meantime keep this in mind, ever story is worth telling. You’re in control how you tell your story. Make it worth telling.