My mother sobbed when she found out she was having a girl. I was to be the first after two boys and for that, she was ecstatic. I’ve seen the video countless times, each time noting the way her beautiful brown hair stuck to her forehead and her mossy green eyes lit up with joy through sweat and tears as she whispered my name. Nicole.
But I never felt like Nicole.
When I was three, I insisted on pants instead of dresses. I hated their frills and their feminine feel. Whenever my mother made me try one on, I threw a fit; yelling and crying out as if I were in pain. I tossed aside my Barbie dolls for Tonka trucks and I took off after my brothers to catch frogs in the pond outside. My father never complained, but my mother frowned, silently picking up the unused set of play teacups she had bought for the princess-themed tea party that we never got to have.
At age five, I started kindergarten. By then, I had long, blonde hair courtesy of my dad. For my first day of school, my mother dressed me up in pink, even tying a matching polka dotted ribbon in my hair. “Do a spin!” “You look so pretty!” all my relatives said. But I didn’t want to be “pretty” and I certainly didn’t want to wear that dress.
In second grade, my mom thought I should socialize more. I never had many girl friends, so she signed me up for dance. I remember staring in the mirror, observing my scrawny body adorned with a leotard and matching ballet slippers and thinking this isn’t right at all. I cried the entire ride there as my mom told me stories about how she was a dancer when she was young.
“I don’t want to dress like a girl, mommy,” I sobbed, “Why are you dressing me like a girl?”
She sighed as she looked me over from the rearview mirror, obviously irritated.
“Because,” she smiled, “You are a girl. You’ll like dancing, I promise!”
On my tenth birthday, I was finally allowed to get my hair cut the way I wanted. When my parents took me to the hair dresser, I had her chop off my long, golden locks and opted for a boy cut instead. My mother cried as chunks of blonde fell to the floor, but my father just shrugged.
“She’s a tomboy, that’s all.”
It was then that I refuted his claim.
“No, I’m not! I’m a boy!” I shouted, still sitting in the hair dresser’s chair.
“Stop it right now, Nicole,” my mother warned, “You know better than to be fresh with me.”
I wasn’t being fresh though, that’s the thing.
The year after that, we had “the talk.” When my mother informed me about the future to come, I feared developing breasts and getting my period the way eleven year old boys fear cooties from girls. This brand new news made me angry and upset, like I was some kind of divine mistake being punished for some unknown crime. I told my mother that if I grew breasts I would cut them off.
I didn’t, though, and at age thirteen, my voice shot up by several octaves and those little mounds had started forming on my chest. The worst part of all was when I got my period. I was in gym class at the moment I finally bled. I didn’t tell anyone and spent the day running back and forth from the bathroom, shoving toilet paper down my pants. I came home in hysterics and hid my panties in the hamper, praying that my parents wouldn’t find them. I had heard that sometimes people died from taking too much medicine so in utter despair, I drank the first bottle of dark liquid I could find in the medicine cabinet and went to bed with swollen, red eyes.
I awoke in the hospital, confused and upset that I was still around. My mother was the most concerned, asking the doctor if I was going to be okay, questioning every potential side effect that ever existed. When I spoke to the psychologist, a nice woman with a lovely smile and a big, brown clipboard, she asked me why I took so much medicine and I told her that I wanted to die.
“And why’s that?” she asked me, looking somewhat taken aback.
“Because,” I started crying, “I’m a boy and no one believes me.”
She gave me a sympathetic nod and put her hand on my shoulder before writing down some notes, assuring me that everything was going to be all right.
Finally, someone believed me.
When the doctors spoke to my parents about transgender kids, my mother scoffed.
“I don’t know much about that sort of thing, but I can assure you that that’s not my daughter.”
My father tapped his fingers on the doctor’s dark oak desk, a nervous habit that he still exhibits today. I think that’s when he put two and two together, as if that moment was a sudden epiphany and everything I’d been telling them for the past thirteen years finally became clear.
“It’ll be okay, Diane,” he said putting his hand over my mother’s as he turned towards the doctor, “Now, what else can you tell me?”
My father was my first real advocate and for that I’ll always be grateful.
After many months of absolute denial, my mother finally came to the conclusion that she allowed me to be influenced by my brothers too much as a child. She could accept the notion that I wanted to be a boy, but she absolutely refused to accept that I had been one all along.
“I don’t know what I did,” she would say, throwing up her hands on the verge of tears.
But my father would always come to her side to comfort her and when necessary, to my side for defense. He’d tell her to go relax and make herself a pot of tea, while he took me outside to play catch, assuring me that my mother still loved me and that she was just a bit confused.
“It’ll be okay, sport,” he promised, as we threw a baseball back and forth in the backyard.
And for some reason, I believed him.
A year and a half later, when I was almost fifteen, my doctors okayed me to start taking hormones. My mother was, understandably, still going through the mourning process, often crying over the loss of the daughter she never had and my father, still as supportive as ever, asked me a thousand times over if I was absolutely sure.
It took a while for things to start changing, but at even the most minor difference, like one less octave in my voice, I felt absolute joy. Around that time, my parents agreed to start calling me by my chosen name, Nick, which was the male variant of the name my mother gave to me at birth. It was at that time that I started to live as Nick, wearing boy’s clothes and even joining the baseball team.
Kids at school could be cruel, but the good outweighed the bad.
Now, at twenty-two, I can confidently say that I am both happy and successful living my life as the person I was meant to be. I work from home as a freelance author and live in a shared apartment with my fiancée, Kaitlyn, and our Jack Russell Terrier, Maxxie. I’ve got a great group of friends with whom I’m rightfully just “one of the guys,” and I finally obtained my college degree. My older brothers are two of my best friends and I see my parents nearly every weekend, when Kaitlyn and I meet them for Sunday breakfast.
“Nicky, it’s so nice to see you!” My mother will say, staining my cheeks with red lipstick.
Then she’ll give me a hug and fill me in on her week, detailing what happened at work and how the employee at Dunkin Donuts screwed up her latte again. Then she’ll ask about Kaitlyn and tell me, for the millionth time, how lucky I am to have her and that we better give her a granddaughter someday, but not any time soon.
As you can see, over time we did work things out and although I could never be the debutant daughter she so desperately wanted, eventually she was able to support me in becoming Nick.
Category: Fiction, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU Student