I mentioned in my first blog post that my desire to be female goes back just about as far as I can remember. While this was particularly amplified during puberty, upon reflection, I can remember a few prepubescent incidents that might have alluded to my future struggles. I don’t really want this blog to be utterly dry and depressing, so I’m going to try and take a more light-hearted approach to these anecdotes.
The very first thing I can remember occurred one day when my aunt was watching me. Her daughter happened to be almost exactly my age, and so during those early years, we were very close. Of course, her toys were very different from mine (not to mention more numerous–a collection I looked on with envy). In fact, so large was her toy collection, that she had a whole, separate room dedicated to the ones that wouldn’t fit in her bedroom. I was not allowed in there, but that doesn’t mean I never wandered in there to gaze upon the silicone shrine.
One day, while I was in there alone, I came across a toy makeup kit. I can’t say I remember exactly it consisted of (I was not yet even in elementary school), but what I do remember was a beautiful, plastic tube of lipstick. I could feel my heart pounding, and in the silence of that lonely room, it was the only thing I could hear. Slowly, I reached for it, and held it in my hand for a long time. To say that I was entranced would be a poetically-appropriate hyperbole.
I was entranced.
Looking around, I discerned that no one else was around. Slowly, methodically, I released that ruby red idol from its $.03 cap. I looked in the cheap, foil mirror in the plastic vanity I was sitting at (funny how such ancient details can come back when writing about them). Doing as I had seen other women do, I held my pursed lips slightly agape, and after another pregnant pause, began rubbing it all over them.
The stick was wet. It must be real! I smiled.
Until someone called my name.
Quickly, I recapped the faux lip stain, and ran outside. God knows why that tube was wet, because it was definitely hard plastic. For some reason, I later reasoned that it had been in water or something. Who knows, but at the time, I convinced myself that it was real, and that my lips were permanently girly and pretty because of it.
This was my first secret, and I loved it.
Later, it would also be the first time I felt acute shame for wanting to be able to do what girls do. The first coal in a slowly-building blaze of self-hatred.