I think it was my 10th birthday party when I blew out the candles on my birthday cake and wished that I could be a boy. My mother had just given birth to another baby boy, which meant that I was the only girl out of four kids, if I don’t count my two step-sisters, which I didn’t at the time. I felt out already and envied my older brother for his motorbike, his friends, his ninja stars and freedom and my younger brother for his collection of ninja turtle paraphernalia and his awesome matching Spiderman bed and curtain set. No way was I about to watch another brother grow up with cool ‘boys’ stuff while I was being forced to like pink, wear stupid dresses and do girly things. Of course I knew that there was no chance of me magically waking up as a boy one day, and I didn’t really want one of those dangly things between my legs to be honest, so I became a tomboy. I was already one, but on that day I vowed, for various reasons, to be the best boy a girl could possibly be.
For the next two years I picked out boys clothes, competed against boys in sport, and beat them, bullied my younger brothers like my older brother bullied me and discovered the skateboard and tried to master tricks to show off, along with my remarkable marble and Tazo collections. When I went over to my friends’ houses I would end up playing soccer or video games with their brothers.
I was the greatest tomboy until the day I discovered the growing humps on my chest, well it was more like a hump, one was always a little slower than the other. I was quite happy going around pretending I was a boy, but the humps were going to be a problem, which I discovered in quite an awkward fashion at a sleep over. As I had gone around acting like a boy for so long, when I got hot and was in the comfort of my own home I would take my shirt off, just like I saw the men around me do. I guess this would be cute if I was 2 years old but being 12 with small developing humps, doesn’t go down so well when playing musical chairs with a room full of boys, girls and adults. I out did myself when I was asked nicely to put my Batman pyjama top back on and I refused because I was getting too hot (I insisted on wearing my Batman winter pyjamas, and it was the middle of summer). The next thing I knew I had a short-sleeved Barbie Princess Nightie shoved over my head, and a desperate mother saying “you cant just take your top off, you’re a girl!”
I slowly realised that becoming a woman was unavoidable and it was something I would have to learn to embrace. This was easier said than done! Bra shopping with my mother and step-father was no joy, especially with my mother calling for an assistant with a tape measure, why that wasn’t done at home, I can’t understand, and then my step-father saying at the top of his voice “double A, I thought so, you hardly need one but I guess you can have it because you’re becoming a woman!” A very small chested boyish woman, I blame it on sport and a history of small chested women in my family. That was the first and the last time my parents showed excitement at me growing up, because the next thing they knew they had to fork out for tampons, perfume, wax kits, creams and products, and meet boyfriends and then give me the sex talk, and send me off to university where more evil horny boys were lurking. But because I grew up playing cricket, and cops and robbers, and arm wrestling with my brothers, being the type of woman that my family and the rest of the world expected me to be, just wasn’t the bees knees.
I finally embraced being a woman through my time at university. After studying and analysing social ideologies and the portrayal of women in the media, I realised that I didn’t have to become the man abiding, half-naked plastic bimbo on the cover of FHM to be a woman, in fact I could fight against that. It was like a light bulb switched on and I suddenly realised the false sense of reality I had been living.
I didn’t have to be a man to be strong and independent, and I didn’t have to be flawlessly beautiful to be loved or respected and having boobs, big or small, and a period every month, and waxing and plucking our delicate areas is not so bad. I didn’t have to force myself to be attracted to men anymore, because once I embraced myself as a woman, I embraced the real reason I didn’t want to be one in the first place.
I didn’t want to be a lesbian, but my feelings and instincts where stronger than my will to hide them. It was only a few weeks into my first relationship with a woman when my issues of identity began to crumble, and I felt like a million bucks! It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin! I stopped trying to be the woman I thought I had to be and became myself. It was the first time I was happy and proud to be a woman.