yes. I did get singled out. I was called Lezzie, often assumed to be younger than I actually was. Just plain seen as a bit odd.
How did I respond? I tended to be a loner. I ran (long distance runner--ran my first marathon at age 15) and I buried myself in academics.
At the Junior High level (i.e. 12 or 13) were you singled out as "different"?
My sixth grade year, my life fell apart. First, I had been a devout Christian. I had even done a missionary trip to Mexico. I simply couldn?t believe God would curse me with this horrible desire, this internal image of myself as a girl. I lost faith. I also started developing facial hair, and my voice got much deeper. I was the prototype for ?different?. I was, until the 6th grade, a strait A student. My sixth grade year, I failed two classes, and was caught shop-lifting. My mother?s boyfriend forced me to join the junior league football team, which I did miserably in. I was the second smallest boy in my class. The same year, I won a poetry contest, a writing contest, and took ribbons in concert choir. Until that year, the school system had tested me twice a year for IQ, and wanted to put me in accelerated learning. When my grades dropped, they finally gave up on the notion and stopped testing me. Also, in the 6th grade, my eyesight started going bad, and I had to get glasses. I got beat up twice that year, one of those times was after school, with a crowd of kids gathered around watching. My life seemed to be one horrific humiliation after another.
Different? I was a small, thin, effeminate, geeky, brainy, sarcastic, angry, bespectacled, nerd? and a closet cross-dresser.
-and- If so, how did you respond at the time?
I folded into a fantasy world. I played D&D, I read comics. I hid the real me away and waited out the storm. I shut down my emotions. I became almost completely apathetic about life. I entered a state of living death, that lasted the rest of my junior high/high school years.
I was a late bloomer. I'didn't get taller until I was around 15 (I guess one might say that i have yet to properly "bloom"). The result was that I was still a boy when everyone else was working on being men/women. I tried guy sports like ski team and rugby, and enjoyed them, but never felt the "guy" camaraderie that went along with them. I wasn't particularly effeminate because i internalized and tried to suppress my feelings, but I was fairly androgynous due to my boyishness and lack of desire to engage in macho endeavors. Some gave me shit for this, and others didn't. Usually I was able to either stand-up for myself or get someone else to stand-up for me when the odds were particularly stacked against me. The real problem I had was the pain of hiding my feelings (both TS and general dislocation from moving around a lot) and being viewed by female friends of mine as a "guy".
In middle school all the other little girls called me "shim", while all the boys took turns giving me black eyes and hella belittling insults....So I guess that means I was different, but there were like 2-3 others that I knew of that got it just as bad, it was a big school like 3500 students. It really changed me, I became a druggie day one of High School and built up this masculine persona that helped get me through high school, I had switched schools so I went to a different high school then the middle school I went fed into.. I couldn't deal with 4 more years of shit from those people..
.I didn't think too much of it at the time, It hurt me and made me feel lower then them I betcha my middle school classmates wouldn't be surprised I transitioned, but my high school friends said that they thought I was the last person they expected, these experiences made me hardened, actually prolly helped me in the end survive what happened during and after high
school, until I made it to San Francisco.
I was singled out starting in fourth grade. Up till then I was in a different school each year, so being the new kid was bad enough. Add to that the unseen "difference", and it was pretty bad. Everyone, including me, knew I was different. We were just so young that none of us knew what it was... but everyone knew that it was there. I got picked on a lot by boys.
Beat up, chased, generally ostracized, the standard things. My grades suffered greatly by Jr. High because I just wanted to be invisible by then. I was tested alot by the school and the state, and everyone said that I had above-average intelligence, but it didn't show in my grades. My self esteem was about as low as a person's could be, due to a combination of outside influences and my own self-loathing for what I thought of as a perversion at the time. I ended up repeating the 8th grade because I had almost no homework grades for the year. I passed all the tests for each class, but didn't do any homework... go figure.
By High School , I was content to be the kid who sat in the back of the class, never raised her hand, ate her lunch alone, and no one knew her name. I got easier when I discovered photography, because I would hide in the darkroom for as much of the day as I could. I think that between fourth grade and graduation, I had maybe three real friends.
> > At the Junior High level (i.e. 12 or 13) were you singled out as "different"?
Different? Yeah, i guess that would explain the boys ganging up on me to cut my hair during recreation. I guess all the name-calling and stuff too, but i don't remember it that much.
> > If so, how did you respond at the time?
I became aggressively different. It worked too! in the sense that we lived in a small conservative town in the mountains, and that quite a few kids felt a need to differentiate themselves from their parents and teachers, i became a role-model for them. A conformist with long hair will get hassled, but a rebel with long hair becomes a leader and gains respect.
On the other hand that wasn't really me. Once i was in that role it was extremely difficult to get out of, and my heart suffered for that. When i didn't have to keep up appearances, i was a very quiet sort of person, given to long thoughts and reading, and basically living in a fantasy (or rather: science-fiction) world where nobody was any sex until they grew up and chose for themselves.....
Oh well, at least i showed quite a few kids that they could choose their own way.
Yep. I'd be tormented, but not really attacked because I used to be known to be nice back in elementary school and would help people out with schoolwork and things besides, but after a while people forgot about that. I just became extremely withdrawn, and my grades went through the floor. Eventually I met up with two people (one of whom I'm almost certain was ts) and hung out almost exclusively with them, but after one incident I decided to break off all links with them entirely and have been a loner ever since. I still wonder how that 'ts' person is doing on occasion... last I heard he's heading out to the army, which I have the feeling will be absolute hell for him (pressure from his family, it's really fucked up over there). Really ought to call him one of these days... and if you're wondering how I 'know' he was ts, sometimes he'd slip and say things, and just in the general way he'd act. That's one of the reasons I had to stop hanging out with him, yay for getting beaten and called a fag just for being around him. I felt like absolute shit for abandoning him, but being that I came damned near to a nervous breakdown that year I don't think I had much in the way of a choice. Any ways, that's my amazing middle school story...
From: Heather Michelle
Middle school really started the hell for me. It was at that point that I somehow managed to be the target of peoples frustrations. I found it very hard to make any friends, when I did I hung on to them. That was of course when they didn't turn on me. I had several 'friends' that when they were around a particular group of people would participate in insulting me and beating me up. It was at that point that I started honing my acting skills to keep my 'weirdness' from showing through to others. It didn't really help and the problems continued into high school.
Just my little thoughts *sniff, sniff*
I felt different, I don't know if I was singled out. It's hard to say. Sometimes I singled myself out. It's that whole "I love attention," deal. Paradoxically, I never got into the theater, except as tech crew. I always wanted the girl's parts. In retrospect, I sort of regret it. Oh well.. I guess the thing was that I don't do anything anyone tries to make me do. It's kind of a bad personality trait of mine. I'm stubborn. Participation in the performing arts was mandatory at my schools and I didn't like that.
I was always sort of in a shell in junior high school. I was angry, and frustrated, and often mean. Some people liked me, but I never returned their gestures of friendship. I didn't really know how. I was still finding out and was very lonely.
A postscript from Sarah
OH MY GOD!
Someone threatened to make a webpage with something I said on it, and I didn't sense the trap. Given this place's track record with web page updates, I didn't think it'd ever get done.
I guess I'd like to add something.
Like a lot of the other people on this list, I was very much in sort of a fantasy world through most of highschool. Heck! I still am, but I think I have more fun with it now. I did the whole RPGs, computers, math, and science, deal. I was also lucky enough to have horses to spend my time around. For a long time I got along better with animals than I did with people.
I was singled out as different my entire life, really. My parents had a lot of attitudes and values that they tried to instill in me that were very liberal, a very "hippie's eye view" of the world. When we moved to suburbia right before first grade, this /really/ set me apart from the other kids. I think the best example, the best analogy of the differences came at lunch time, when they would be eating their Wonderbread and JIF peanut butter, I'd be stuck eating dark brown whole wheat grain bread with freshly ground thick organic peanut butter. My entire life was like that. The other kids would be suburbanites and I'd be a refugee from a commune, just about. I was also the kid with the darkest skin and the weirdest name in the entire school. Vermont was--and for all I know, still is--the whitest state in the union. Attitudes are usually non-discriminatory, but I was still unusual enough to
be set apart. This lead to a wee tad bit of isolation.
I rebelled against this, and fought long and hard against my parents because I wanted to be accepted by the other kids, and the only way to do that was to blend. Unfortunately, by the time my parents had given in, the damage had already been done. So to counter-act the isolation, I turned to what I call non-chemical escapism: books, TV, movies, comics, RPGs and
video-games. This led to the inevitable fan-geek stage (which I already had been with Star Wars) that only led to further isolation.
I guess it wasn't until high school that, instead of fighting against my differences, I started to revel in them. I found a group of friends who were about as ostracized and we banded together, formed our own little core group and found strength in numbers. I'm only still in contact with two of them, but they are among the few people in the world that I would willingly give
my life for if need be. And one of them has been perhaps my most enthusiastic supporter of my transition. (The other, well...long story. Short version: ex-girlfriends still carrying Statue of Liberty-sized torches don't react well to gender dysphoria, at least not at first)
I was good at acting; I was never isolated for being weird in a gender context. I kept that part of me buried deep because I was afraid of what would happen if I let it out. But I was most certainly different, and known to be so.
*shrug* Not sure what else to say. I was lucky, the weirdoes in my school didn't feel that there was a stigma--or didn't care there was a stigma--to being seen with each other. We saved each other, I think. We helped each other not care what other people thought and could just be ourselves--more or less, I don't know what would have happened if I had come out as T* to
them back then but I was certainly afraid to come out to anybody--and that made a huge difference in my life.
I was totally ostracized from first grade on. I just mainly dealt with it by withdrawing. Academics became an escape for me, because that was something I could succeed at and feel good about myself. I also dealt by escapism. I spent a lot of time living in an imaginary world. It was pretty much the same in middle school expect that I discovered computers.
The land of make believe was replaced by the land of bytes and megahertz. I got punched a few times, got ridiculed regularly, no friends, etc. About the time I started High School we moved from out in the sticks into Nashville. My days in high school were in a little suburban high school and I fared a lot better. By that point I had learned to play the game.
Plus the whole school was just a little more mellow. Other than the constant bickering with parents, and living in total denial.....high school wasn't really that bad. I was valedictorian, football captain, most likely to succeed, etc. It was my junior year in college before I really started owning up to the fact that I had serious gender issues.
This is interesting, I'm wondering whether anyone had a similar experience to myself, but might be a tall order.
After primary school in a small country town, I got packed off to start Year 7 at the tender age of 11. However, my parents decided that a good education was essential, and they had long since set their hearts on sending me to an all-boys, private, Jesuit run boarding school in Sydney. Culture shock doesn't quite do justice.
At first I tried to get to know the other kids, but it didn't work, eventually I retreated to reading "Lord of the Rings" at some secluded steps out the back. I think I had "special case" written all over me, I had a strange name and thick glasses, and that didn't help my desire to socialize at all.
My emotions were still very close to the surface, and I tended to cry at the drop of a hat. One memory which burns still, is when the entire school (~1200 people) went to see a movie (based on the Jesuits - "The Mission") and it was so sad that I went running out of the theater and went and cried in the toilets.
The strangest and the thing I most regret is the complete absence of girls from my life for about 4 years. It was an all-boys school, we didn't do dances or such-like, and we weren't allowed to leave the grounds, and I don't have any sisters or female cousins (etc) who could have come and visited/rescued me. Try that and attempting to continue to cross-dress when you live in an open dormitory with 60 others.
I never got beaten up, because by the time I was truly known to be "odd" I was able to take care of myself. I couldn't say that I had any close friends for those 7 years, and I see the hardened exterior which I cultivated has been an enormous burden to shed.
I guess I have to mourn what might have been and just know that maybe somewhere, there is some good to have come out of my schooling. The thing I guess I look forward to most is returning to the 10 year high-school reunion and saying "Look here, I'm happy and I am me."
Annnnnyways, well, i had weird middle-school issues. It goes a little something like this. I bonded closely with a few girls at my old school, out in Amherst, and my parents decided, after they found jay-zus, to move outta Western Massachusetts. This set off some problems.
A little background: I started out in small elementary schools, and in the area i live in, you get funneled into one of two middle schools. At that point, i was following three other girls (one of whom i dated for a while and i'm still very close to, the other of whom is my best friend now, and the third of whom is my umass advisor's daughter. We wimmins sticks together... (and there's an interesting story here, too, but any ways...) i was pretty attached. I think they all got that i wasn't actually a boy, and all that. (Well, or they all say they knew back even before then. Apparently i was occasionally vocal about these things to people other than my mother.)
When my 'rents moved, that got torn up. (I ran up some awful phone bills, then we all got email. Phew.) Any ways, i was stuck in a new school out east. I talked funny, English wasn't my primary language, and i looked "queer". (Or, as they say, "QUEYAH.") I was about 12 at this point, my parents had been shooting me up with testosterone for about a year, and i didn't know what to do. I was pretty violent; kids yelled at me and i'd kick their ass. (I actually had this problem with some confused kids calling me a "lezzie." Um, the irony, the irony.) I got abused at school almost as much as at home, and i ended up running away not much later. So, any ways, i got into a private school as a charity case and started getting out west in the summer; i spent summers in odd places with other families. It was kinda neat. High school sucked, too, but i almost never got beaten up or anything, so that was an improvement.
I'm tired. (i use a lot of parentheses when i'm tired.) (this makes posts hard to read.) (i'm sorry.)
wendy, who would like to point out that this is all funny because she ran into someone from high school today in the scary-ass laundromat. eek.
Yea, I guess I was sort of singled out. But I think it was more because of how I was than with being trans. I was a *ditz,* omg I had *no* social skills. For 2nd-4th grade I'd been in a tiny private school in Venezuela w/ almost life outside it and a tiny church, I was so bad my mother used to call me her "socially retarded daughter" (heh, great way to build up my already
crappy self esteem, eh?). And that was also about the time I was starting to deal with being trans, and I turned into a tiny little uber-fundie, a total self-loathing Bible belter. So nobody really liked me, but that was more because I was fucked up than because I was tranny :-P. By 7th grade I was getting better though, and I think that's when people started to pick me out
as something other than a geek. There was a group of guys who gave me shit, but I was still acting feminine enough to be left pretty much alone, and I was a book worm so I could be by myself without much trouble. 8th grade I joined the list :-). And 9th grade people gave me *serious* shit, but that was when I was starting to come out.