Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I didn’t understand. I didn’t think I could “get” it. How could someone be born in a boy’s body, but not be a boy. It made no sense to me. But I knew it happened.

So I tried really hard to remember back to my childhood.

How did I feel when I was a little girl?

I clearly recalled thinking how happy I was to be a girl. Many boys I saw were loud and obnoxious. They were supposed to be that way. They were expected to not care about privacy. Locker rooms were a free for all. It disgusted me. I was so happy that I could just be myself, playing with the toys I liked, chatting with my friends, using private stalls in clean washrooms. No towel slapping. No wedgies. No wrestling or roughhousing.  I was so relieved that I was a girl.

Now, a twenty-one year old I know is transitioning. As we sat up late talking, I shared my thoughts with them. And they said, imagine feeling the way I did, but not having a girl’s body. Imagine telling people that you weren’t comfortable with the expectations placed on you, but being told, “you were born with boy parts so you should act like a boy.” No matter how awkward you felt.

And it started to dawn on me…I would have been horrified if someone had expected me to act like a boy. I would not have been able to do it. But I was lucky enough to have the body and the heart of a girl, so different demands were not placed on me.

And my transgender friend then told me about the loneliness of growing up outside of society’s norms. Childhood was sad and adolescence, heartbreaking.  

There was a quiet retreat in to screens and fantasy.

No interactions so no expectations.

Solace in solitude.

Twenty-one years was too long to live this way. Twenty-one years of being misunderstood and ridiculed and hurt and shamed. Twenty-one years of isolation.

Their transition is now complete. As their body heals, it begins to match the soul.  The load is lightened. Life can be crazy and fun and happy and shared! Twenty-one years have past. They are over. 

And my strong friend deserves EVERYTHING.

Twenty-one years is too long.

I think I understand now.

(For Alison, with love and admiration.)

©Conni Cartlidge, 2013


1 comment:

  1. I can’t understand exactly how it must feel, not having experienced this myself, but I can empathize when I hear the story. It is hard enough being a teen, so this must have been doubly difficult when society is not always accepting. It takes a lot of strength.