My Story (2)
By the time I was 8 yrs old, I knew the word “ugly” and knew resolutely that it applied to me. At least that was what I was told by the girls (before age 10, I had a lot of male friends who didn’t really seem to know or care what the fuss was about – only the girls were cruel to me).
As we hit puberty in secondary school, I suddenly realised that my predicament could actually get worse. By then it wasn’t just the girls, it was the boys as well. Page 3 was an ideal they already knew of, mentioned and practiced boasting how much they liked, trying to sound like the grown-up men and older boys who made demands and got what they wanted (these were evidently “the people to be”).
Of course, we’d all seen things like washed-out, torn and discarded pictures from lads mags on the street and such. Picked them up and looked at them. Sex ed was a real eye opener to what they were about… and it was a little haunting remembering those images in new light – I didn’t like the message I seemed to be getting, not least because I already knew I didn’t fit what other people thought was “pretty”.
For many years I’d also spent a lot of time in my dad’s workshop with genuinely lovely lads who worked there. I realise now that by the time I was 12 I’d already been trying to work on the mental model of men I should be interested in when I would reach my adult years. But I remember how when I noticed the topless women calendars and posters they had up in the work space (some of which sported The Sun logo) I felt hurt and like I could never be that, so I would never find someone who would love me, because that was what even these really nice people who spent time with me, showed me how to use drills and such, wanted.
But… by the time I was in highschool, amidst the endless taunts and bullying, I was *frequently* told how I couldn’t measure up to being “female”. So by that point, all of this accumulated experience – see My Story (1) for the my early childhood – pulled together and I honestly started to believe I couldn’t pass as female.
If you’d have offered me by the time I was 14, the chance to undergo treatment and surgery to change gender, I would have leapt at it. So I had gotten used to being ugly, but I’d also gotten used to the freedom it afforded me: so I would never find love but nobody got in my way when I was interested in science with words like “you could work in TV or be an actress or a model or something when you grow up” – so I got to do anything I wanted. But come age 14, my body started to change. Of course it didn’t give me attributes worthy of a Page 3 model though, did it? I used to pound at my chest and abdomen until they bruised, wishfully thinking I could literally just hate them into going away. I was also suicidal.
I couldn’t pass for female. But with periods and the beginnings of a very modest chest, people stopped treating me with the same respect and casual attitude they would a boy. This was worst of all for all people who were male. I was being asked to take care of myself by male relatives and be extra careful of grown-up men, and best of all? *Other* men started taking an interest in me sexually – and I wasn’t even 15.
But let me tell you one thing clearly I do remember about the busdrivers, the workmen and the park ranger (the latter offered me oral sex *after* telling me about himself and his 2 yr old daughter when I stopped by to check on a wounded animal I’d brought to him the week before):
On *every* *single* *occasion* where a man approached me inappropriately at that age, The Sun newspaper was within view somewhere in the place I was being approached – propped up against a window, cast open on a table, or folded up under a mug of coffee. I had to learn to say no, but also to say it more than once to the same person. But I also recall that on *every* *single* *occasion* where I was spoken to with decency, respect and restraint by a grown man… nowhere was The Sun or anything like it to be seen.