[CN: transphobic slur]
I remember, when I was five, being the only afab kid who didn’t cover their chest when we changed for PE.
I remember knowing that boys and girls were exactly the same, because I was exactly the same as a boy.
I remember my £1 plastic football that popped on a thistle, and my dad buying me a real football.
I remember watching Terry Jones’ The Wind in the Willows, and reserving my admiration for Nicol Williamson (Badger)’s widow’s peak.
I remember being disappointed that my new birthday bike had flowers painted on it when my friend Ben’s bike had jaguar paw-prints.
I remember climbing trees, and building Airfix planes.
I remember hating the thought of puberty.
I remember wondering if I might be ‘a gay man in a woman’s body’.
I remember wanting ‘hair like a boy’.
I remember being told I was in the wrong toilets, because I had short hair.
I remember how pleased I was with my ‘boy trousers’.
I remember wanting people to think I was a tomboy, although I wasn’t all that ‘tom’.
I remember being asked if I was a boy or a girl when I was wearing my school uniform skirt.
I remember identifying with male characters in stories and on TV.
I remember wanting to wear men’s clothes.
I remember being called a ‘shim’ by strangers on the street, before I knew what being trans was.
These are the dots that gender specialists, psychiatrists and endocrinologists, join up to tell stories about people’s lives. But there’s a certain story they need to find, and certain things they want to hear, a certain way that they make things fit. It’s not the whole story. Because I remember it taking twenty-five years for things seem that simple.
I remember I loved playing with dolls.
I remember my pink nightie with white stars and moons.
I remember that my best friends at school were girls.
I remember my My Little Pony lunchbox.
I remember a blue dress with white frills that I loved when I was five, and my favourite red summer dress when I was twelve.
I remember getting my ears pierced, and wearing gold studs with green stones.
Being a boy, or a girl, or non-binary, doesn’t mean staying inside a labelled box. Nothing is ever as simple as the binary tries to make it look. I know I’m a boy, and I don’t want to have to disavow any of my experiences, the ways I’ve felt, what I’ve loved or hated, because none of that makes who I am more or less valid, or more or less true. My gender is mine to express, and I shouldn’t have to justify or explain it. My gender is how I live it.
(With thanks to Joe Brainard)