When you are in the womb, a mark gets imprinted on your brain to provide you with a gender identity. I have a disorder called Gender Identity Disorder or GID. My brain’s gender imprint does not match my body’s gender. In laymans’ terms, my birth certificate says I’m a girl, my body says I’m a girl, people always tell me that I’m a girl, but my mind says that I am a boy; this means that I am a female to male or FTM transsexual. Transsexuals are rare enough, but I am different because I am thirteen years old.
When somebody turns thirteen, they are excited about dating, middle school graduation, and going through puberty. I wasn’t excited about any of these things. Dating? When you’re thirteen, crushes are always a topic of discussion, and, as a transsexual, I would probably not be dating for a few years. Middle school graduation sounds like a lot of fun, but the “Trans-Health Conference” (a conference where transgendered kids and adults can come and be with other transgendered people) is on the same weekend as graduation! And, of course, puberty. I wasn’t excited about puberty at all! I wouldn’t be buying my first bra this year, I would be buying a chest-compressing vest or a “binder.” I wouldn’t be getting my period, I’d by getting a small capsule of medication implanted in my arm to stop me from getting a period. I wouldn’t be looking forward to my 18th birthday because I would be allowed to fly a plane alone, I would be looking forward to my 18th birthday because I can get gender reassignment surgery without parents consent.
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Aside from my worries about puberty, graduation, and dating, I was very happy. I had- and still do have- great friends in, as well as out of school. I was getting 80s and 90s on tests, had just gotten a gold fish named Mikey, as well as a brand new black bicycle and a Wii. I was healthy, happy, and loved life. That, and I was counting the days until summer, when I could go to FWF Summer Camp. I had been to FWF before, and I had a great time; I made lot’s of friends, and had discovered that I love rock climbing! I was so excited, but also a little nervous. I had come out as transsexual at camp the prior year. I knew that, since nobody knew me at camp, it was the prime chance to come out! It was completely fine! There was even a transsexual counselor there who I became good friends with!
This year, however, would be different. I was in the process of physically transitioning, and I was a bit less easygoing about people calling me “she” or “her.” I was worried, but I kept on telling myself it would be fine.
I knew that it would be an awful three weeks after the first five minutes I was there, and they checked me into my cabin. “Er… Iris Preiss…” I said, hesitantly. “Uh, I’m sorry, I just have to go talk to the director for a minute,” said the man at the computer. “Why?” “It say’s here that you’re in a girls’ cabin.”
And then when my counselor came into the cabin, she said, “Look, FWF has a strict rule about boys being even near a girls’ cabin, you’ve got to leave.”
“I’m sorry, m’am, I’m a girl… sort of…”
She thought I was joking. I was glad, in a way, that she believed that I was a boy. I didn’t end up getting in trouble that day.
When I took my swimming test, they told me to take my shirt off. “Uh, sorry, I have to keep it on because my skin is pale and gets burnt easily.” I looked like a geek with all the other shirtless boys standing around me.
... She was more than my mentor. She was my girl friend; the one person who has influenced me the most ... only say, Linda was a truly amazing friend. She was a true friend. I could always depend on her ... to say.She had the ability to instantly become friends with anyone, even if she just met that person ... one of those people, who were friends with everybody. She was a friend to everyone because she was so ...
Whenever I got a package from the mail room, I’d have to show them my slip that said Girls 8B, and they’d give me a strange look.
I’d have to make up an excuse for being in a girls’ cabin whenever anybody asked, “oh, what cabin are you in?”
FWF has a carnival every second session. My cabin set up a “marriage” booth where two people would walk down an aisle made of toilet paper, and receive ring-pops. When I was off my shift, I was walking around the camp, and I spotted my friend’s boyfriend, Chuck. “Hey, you’re Jennifer’s boyfriend, right?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said, “And you’re the he-she, right?”
I was shocked. I knew that people talked to me behind my back; they called me a he-she, a slut, worthless as a dog, but nobody ever said it up front to me.
My friend, Dana, heard and walked up to us. “How dare you say that about him?” She yelled.
“What, she’s a he-she! She’s in a girls’ cabin!”
“So what, you jerk?”
“She’s not really a boy! Her real name is Iris!”
Dana and I were incredibly annoyed at Chuck, but we quickly forgot about it when our friend hurt her foot and we had to take her to the infirmary.
A few days later, I saw Jennifer and Chuck walking around camp. “Hey, Chuck! Don’t you owe me an apology?”
“Uh… yeah, sorry,” he said.
I was pleased with myself, but Jennifer gave me a mean glare.
Back at the cabin, while our counselor was in the shower, Jennifer approached me. “Don’t you EVER talk to my boyfriend again, you faggot!”
I was shocked, and all the girls in the cabin were shocked. “What?” I retorted. “He said something awful to me, and I made him apologize.”
“I don’t care,” said Jennifer, “if you pull something like that again, I swear I’ll…” she shook her fist.
“Okay, whatever,” I said, nonchalantly.
She looked at me for a minute, and I figured that she would walk away, but she didn’t. Instead of walking away, she took her hand, and slapped me across the face.
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I never told my counselor that she did that. I was afraid she’d do it again. She had punched me in the arm before, and kicked me in the stomach. I decided I’d just stay away from her.
When I think about it today, I realize that what happened to me wasn’t terrible. Hundreds of transgendered people are the victim of hate crimes every year, and I was just a victim of some teenager bullying. People get killed, abused, and abandoned because of their gender identity.
When I brought this up at my school, asking to make a speech about it after school in the auditorium for those who wanted to join, they said no because if I talked about this, they’d have to let everybody talk about something important to them. That made me furious. “You should,” I replied, looking at my feet. “Excuse me?”
“If something’s important to the students as well as the world, you should give them a chance to talk about it.”
Fifty-five people died in California in ’08 because of transgender prejudice. In ’06, around 40 people died in New York. If people still don’t think that transgender prejudice is a problem, talk to the victim of it. Talk to me.