Is there a way to think of one’s childhood without a narrative, without viewing it through some kind of lens? Or by the virtue of thinking about it, do we change it? By the way we construct our past, what we focus on and what we leave out, how we interpret our actions, do we inevitably cast some kind of slant on our past?
I’ve posted before on my childhood and how it certainly isn’t anyone’s “typical” trans narrative. I’ve felt much pressure, and had to deal with many feelings of illegitimacy, because there are so many “girly” parts to my childhood. Most noticeably, I never thought I was going to grow up to be a boy; I never felt that being a girl felt wrong or not enough. But then I realized that it’s not as though my childhood was exclusively filled with moments of stereotypical girlyness. In feeling somehow inadequate in the “trans-ness” of my childhood, have I actually gone the other way and constructed my childhood narrative as being more gendered than it truthfully was? And is it even possible to tell a story without constructed it, changing it, in some way?
When I was a child, I played with Hot Wheels cars with my brother. I ran around outside, exploring the woods and biking all over the place, playing whiffle ball in the backyard and basketball (well, HORSE) in the frontyard. I loved Hatchet and My Side of the Mountain. I didn’t really wear skirts or dresses, unless I was getting dressed up. I helped my dad digging in the garden. I occasionally did fishing and archery. I wanted to do Boy Scouts stuff with my brother.
I’m not trying to say that any of that is “boy stuff.” I just realized that maybe my childhood wasn’t as incessantly girly as I’d previously dismissed it as being. I did a lot of the stuff that kids do. Could I construct a more conventional trans narrative? Perhaps. Could I construct a conventional girl narrative. Probably. But what does any of that mean? Constructing narratives just seems to be picking and choose memories, interpreting them in certain ways, to impart a specific message. Perhaps there is no such thing as a real, true narrative.
I was just a child. That is my story.
The talented Dar Williams, singing “When I Was A Boy,” a song about gender, and childhood, and how we’re not as different as we think.