I changed schools a lot and each time it was a new chance to finally say the right things and hopefully fit in. It would be awfully nice to have friends and not have to spend recess and lunches hiding from bullies. This was going to be the year that things turned around. My secret was still there. I was a girl but surely I could trick the boys into thinking I was one of them, and a cool one at that. Yes, this would be the year. I was so hyped and things were finally about to go my way. I was absolutely right up until about lunch.
How did it all fall apart? Like sharks sniffing blood in the water, the boys could tell there was something wrong with me. They were cautious at first as they tried to sense out what that weakness could be. They were circling and nudging to test me, their potential prey, for just how helpless it was. They did this with care until they are ready to strike, that one moment when I go from being the odd new boy to become nothing more than bully fodder. The moment was a question and all I had to do was answer it correctly.
“So do you like girls?” Brad (not his real name) asked. I knew this one; I was supposed to say ‘no.’ I studied how boys acted and I was certain I finally had a good idea on how to play the boy role.
“No, eww,” I replied at my clever lie. Little did I know, this was the first shot and the second shot was about to ruin my reputation. I totally missed the cues that I had answered the question wrong.
“Do you like boys?” He followed up with a huge smirk on his face. I once again had no idea of the trap I had walked into. I had no idea that puberty apparently changes things for boys and I thought that boys liked boys and thought girls were gross. I was playing the role without knowledge that the rules were changing; had changed.
“I do like boys,” I said with confidence. It is kind of ironic because I identify as a gay woman and have never been attracted to boys.
“Faggot,” Brad spat as he punched me in the shoulder really hard. Everyone else was laughing at me and I could feel the tears welling up which only made things worse as I a few others chanted “Sissy.”. Beneath my tears, I did smile a tiny bit as I had never made it to lunch of the first day before.
Brad made it his daily mission to hit me multiple times. The fact that the abuse from my father conditioned me to just take it seemed to make bullying me a lot of fun for him and the others. It also meant he could hit me whenever he wanted. He often liked to sit near me so he could get hits in when the teachers weren’t looking. It was constant and even when I tried to explain that I didn’t like boys they didn’t care. I was branded and the only peace I had in that school was when I was able to escape to the forested area next to the school during breaks. I was safe there and it only made me long for the end of the school year and real safety.
It was a long year and I was relieved when summer finally arrived so I could head to my grandparents. For some reason the kids in that neighborhood liked me somewhat, which was odd because they just accepted me as I was. I think the fact I grew up around them led to them being use to me even if I was different. I knew I would have to return to that school in September and I dreaded it. I didn’t know then that it wasn’t going to be my last safe summer as my world was about to be devastated when my number one support feature, my grandmother, died in October.
The death of my grandmother has been and still is the most emotional impacting moment of my life. My entire life had changed and as a result I was alone for the rest of my pre-transition journey. The rules of bullying changed too as it went from a mixed physical emotional medium to a heavier emotional medium. I would also soon meet a friend who despite being on the outside provided me with a small distraction from my problematic life.