By RIKKI DUBOIS
My name is Rikki, and I’m transgender. In a previous article, I explained what it means to be transgender. Next, I’d like to discuss what it’s like when a transgendered person is a child. There is one caveat, though: not every trans person has the same experience as a child; no two children, even in the same family, ever have the same experience growing up.
This is my story.
I didn’t realize I was trans until I was older, but once that realization dawned on me, thoughts and feelings I had as a child made sense to me.
The first inclination that I may have been trans was when I was about two years old. I remember sitting on my mom’s lap when she was doing her nails, and I would ask her to do mine too, which she did. One day, when she was not home, I went into her room to get her nail polish. My dad was home with my brother and me, so I went to see him, to ask if he could put polish on my nails. I knew that he was not the right parent to ask, but I went anyway. When he saw what I wanted, he laughed and told me no. It was not a malicious laugh, just one where your child does something cute, but I think that this may have been the time that I started to deny who I was and pushed the feelings of being a girl deep down inside.
As I grew up, I found that I didn’t fit in anywhere. I liked playing with the girls and playing girls’ games. I did not like being with the boys. It did not help that my older brother would bully me. I was sensitive and would cry easily; I was an easy target. But the girls accepted me and showed me how to play their games. Many nights I would lie in bed and wonder what my “girl name” would be. In September 1964, I was three years old and began going to a daycare/nursery-school at a convent, because both my parents worked. There were no regular daycares or kindergarten back then, and the nuns had a preschool program for those who needed care. It was for boys and girls, and this was where it became obvious that I preferred to play with the girls.
Two years later, I started grade one. It was at an all-boys school, and I really had a hard time fitting in. I made friends, but I was not comfortable with them. It always felt like I was on the outside. I did not like playing their games at recess, and I spent a lot of time alone. The next year, however, this school amalgamated with a nearby all-girls school, and I was now part of a co-ed class. I was able to make real friends here with the girls. This was hard and confusing, because as a boy I was expected to play with the boys, and I wanted to be with the girls.
In the early 1970s I started to cross-dress, in private of course. I didn’t know why I did it, but my brain was usually filled with a lot of activity and thoughts of suicide. However, when I cross-dressed, my brain would be quiet, and I was at peace. I would then chastise myself for dressing like that, and swore that I would never do it again. Until I did.
When I came out to my mother in 2010, she told me that if she knew when I was a child that I was a girl, she would have helped me transition back then. That was a nice thought, but I doubt it would have been possible to do in the 1960s and 1970s.
Growing up trans was a difficult thing to live with. I was lonely because I was never comfortable anywhere, and thoughts of suicide were always with me. I was bullied for being a sensitive child, something that probably would not have happened if I was able to grow up as a girl. Therefore, I applaud all the parents who support the children who self-identify as having the wrong gender, and for allowing those children to live the life they were meant to live.
Rikki Dubois is a transgendered Winnipeg writer. She has two sons in university and is living with her partner, Charlene, and their black Pomeranian named Tux. Her book Muffy was Fluffy helps children understand what it means to be transgendered. Rikki is available to help those who have questions about gender dysphoria and other gender-related issues. Visit her website for contact information or for more examples of her written works.