I already did a post on the times that I probably should’ve known something was up, but I feel like it’s important for people to realise that even those of us who did have a lot of “classic” trans traits also often had some moments that weren’t so “typical boy”.
When I decided that my name was Anastasia. Emphasis on the ‘STAH’, not ‘stay’. I was adamant that people pronounce it properly. I was in preschool and hated my name with a passion, but Anastasia sounded just different enough to work. I was also a pretentious little brat who probably needed to be brought down a peg or two.
Which is why no one was too horribly surprised when I sent in photos of myself to John Robert Powers without telling anyone when I was six. It never went anywhere because unsolicited headshots in envelopes addressed in crayon (pink with sparkles and unicorn stickers so that it stood out) don’t tend to be taken very seriously. Ended up being my parents’ favourite “awww, she’s so cute!” story for years though.
I also loved my dance lessons. Sure, I refused a tutu and danced all male roles, but you could not make me miss a class. I had to be drugged to keep me from sneaking out when I caught chicken pox, that’s how obsessed I was. (Funny part is, I’m not a natural dancer. I can do ballet, but get me in a club and I start looking like Mark Cohen.)
When I wasn’t dancing I could generally be found playing with pretty dresses and tiaras. I loved dress up. Sometimes I was a fireman, but often I was Belle or Aurora or Jasmine. I was the kid with no siblings close to my own age (the closest one is college aged now) so when I was at home I had to be able to entertain myself. That generally meant dress up and other imaginary games.
Even outside of dress up, I adored books with strong heroines like Nancy Drew and Jo from Little Women. I was always a reader and while I did like my high fantasy and old mythology (English and Irish folklore being favourites), I was still a sucker for anything where the girl kicked everyone’s ass. Heck, I still read American Girl books whenever they come out with a new character.
I didn’t change all that much after I started going to school as a boy either. I still wore pink and purple (more purple than pink) and painted my nails. This wasn’t considered a weird thing for boys at my school, I was actually one of the more tame ones because my light up high tops didn’t have pink laces, only white glitter.
Speaking of nail polish, I had an entire collection of fun colours. Other kids my age collected My Little Pony or action figures, I had a bathroom cabinet full of nail polish. Mostly various shades of blue, but also a lot of silver, gold, and clear with glitter. I’d change the colour every night when I decided what I was going to wear the next day so that it’d match.
I was also obsessive about my hair (and eventually skincare). When I was seven I made up a chart and staged an experiment to figure out which brand and type of hair product worked best for me. As I got older and puberty made my skin rebel I repeated that for different skincare routines. Cleanser, toner, exfoliating scrubs, masks, moisturisers…my medicine cabinet still looks like a diva exploded.
Actually, looking back I realise that quite a few of my “girly” habits revolved around being image obsessed. I would spend hours picking out the perfect outfit. Always something that a baby Kurt Hummel or (for those of you older than 15) Simon Doonan would wear, but I didn’t figure that out until I was older. One of the biggest reasons I couldn’t handle the classic passing tips was that I hated looking like a slob. Even in my tomboy days I insisted on making sure colours coordinated and patterns didn’t clash. I was wearing horribly oversized shirts and jeans, but damned if I was going to make things worse by pairing chartreuse with violet or some other nonsense.
Any or all of these in a little boy would’ve been clues to possible future sexuality (and very much scorned by my macho-man relatives). However, I was considered a little girl. This meant I was behaving much as expected. Yes, I socially transitioned myself. Yes, I refused to admit that I was considered a girl until freaking high school. My family didn’t know that though. To them I was a safe enough balance between tomboy and appropriately girly.
Which is one of the biggest problems with using childhood and past gender expression as a guideline for transition: most of us don’t fit one category or the other. Especially those of us who are effeminate guys, so much of what would be considered rather queen-y in a little boy is perfectly acceptable for a little girl. There are some minor differences in how it’s expressed, but rarely anything that can be quantified.