Readers – This guest post has been brought to you by @mcmeganpei, seen here in this recent photo. You are likely wondering why I am attaching a photo, you will not be wondering this after you read the post.
With Chaz Bono’s dancing shoes firmly laced, issues surrounding gender identity are at the forefront of news publications, trade rags and blogs. First, let us clarify for those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 10 years, the Wiki definition of Transgender:
Transgender is the state of one’s “gender identity” (self-identification as woman, man, neither or both) not matching one’s “assigned sex” (identification by others as male, female or intersex based on physical/genetic sex).
But let us, for a moment, ponder the flip side. What of the individual with a gender identity that matches their physical/genetic sex but who’s physical appearance (perhaps due to an ill-advised haircut – that’s right I’m pointing at YOU Mom) causes the general public confusion? I’ll tell you what happens – my childhood from the age of 6 – 13. Yeah, that’s right. All of you out there hiding those awful awkward teen photos – “oh no, no, no, puberty was not kind to me”. Are you kidding me? My whole childhood was unkind – puberty was a GODSEND! Finally an end to the anxiety caused by having to meet new people who would politely play detective asking pointed questions that they prayed would ultimately lead to uncovering my gender. Children were the worst though – no beating around the bush there – “HEY! Yeah, you! HEY! Are you a boy or a girl?” Me: “I’m a girl.” Evil Child: “Are you sure?”
UGH … as such, you would think the “Spring Fling Fishpond Incident of ‘94” wouldn’t have cut so deep. This wasn’t my first time at the gender confusion rodeo, but it would serve to be my most shameful moment and the catalyst to a painful process of taking my mushroom cut to a Dorothy Hammel – esque bobb, to what I like to consider my personal tribute to Kurt Cobain – to what was finally without a doubt, long, flowing, GIRL hair.
Let’s head back to 1994: (cue Wayne and Garth doodley doodley doodley)
The Sackville Spring Fling held at Salem Elementary School in Sackville, NB (population 5,411) was the social event of the year and I wasn’t dicking around that day. Nope, a sunny Saturday afternoon, the air finally warm enough to leave your jacket at home – I was pulling out all the stops – pleated jeans with the cuffs turned up to reveal gorgeous plaid lining and a red esprit mock-neck (that’s right bitches, a mock-neck long sleeved t-shirt) and some kick ass penny loafers. Don’t even try to tell me I didn’t look good. Riding the high of high-fashion I gamely headed to the “Nail Art” booth to have my nails painted. This went as follows:
Nail Skank: “Ewww like how can I paint designs on your nails if you don’t have any”
Me: “well they’re not that short I was just really busy tree climbing this morning and didn’t get around to buffing them”
Nail Skank: “Whatever just pick two colours and I’ll paint them like half-and-half”
With my new pink and red nails I was now on top of the world – my fall from grace would be tragic.
I take you now to the “Fishpond.” For those of you unfamiliar with this carnival game it’s beyond simple – apply blindfold, throw the line of your fishing rod over the edge of the table blocking the classroom door and wait for the tug on your line that indicates your prize has been attached, reel up your winning as quickly as possible and enjoy! UNLESS you’re me. You see, in the interest of providing great prizes, the asshole running the fishpond would ask your age and then inform the prize giver of your age and gender in order to ensure you received an age and gender appropriate prize. Note they do NOT ask your gender, it is assumed one can tell by looking at the child whether they are a boy or a girl – WRONG.
I gamely stepped to the plate, confident that I was about to receive the greatest prize of my life:
Fishpond asshole: “How old are you?”
Me: “Eleven”. I applied my blindfold with confidence and tossed my line into the abyss anticipating the glory of a new toy just seconds away.
Fishpond asshole: “ELEVEN YEAR OLD BOY! We have an ELEVEN YEAR OLD BOY! ELEVEN YEAR OLD BOY HERE!”
Where the hell was this prize wrangler located? Down the freakin street?! I at once wished that my blindfold yielded me invisible as the hot flush of shame turned my face the same red of my stylin’ mock neck. Head hung low, I rushed to find my older sister – it was time to leave, a blue toy truck clutched in my hand – a gift for my little brother that would forever serve as a cruel reminder.