Daddy never knew. She thought he wouldn’t like it. Daddy wasn’t around very often, though, so she was happy with me.
When I was little, I didn’t know, either. Then I went to school. The teachers knew. The other kids knew. Sometimes the teachers let me play games with the boys. They didn’t like me, so I didn’t ask very often. I didn’t like dolls, though. They were for sissies. Maybe I was a sissy. I don’t know. I didn’t understand. I just didn’t like being called names.
I tried to play outside sometimes, but she always caught me. She yelled at me – said I wasn’t supposed to be like this. I didn’t know what I wasn’t supposed to be like.
She and daddy fought a lot. They fought every time he was home, I think. I didn’t like it when daddy was home. She made me put on different clothes. Mostly I lay on my bed and cried. I was a sissy. She yelled at daddy. She thought I didn’t hear, but I did. Ugly things, names and bad words, and things I didn’t understand.
I learned to be quiet. Once, daddy asked me if I wanted to play baseball. I said yes. Later, she told me that I would tell him I didn’t want to. Otherwise I would “get it.” I didn’t know what she meant. She looked upset, so I told daddy I changed my mind. I didn’t like baseball.
On my eighth birthday, daddy had to leave. He didn’t come back. I was sad, but she shushed me and brushed my hair. She said she loved me, that I was her good little girl. She said that daddy didn’t understand, that he didn’t like me, and that was why he left. That made me cry. She brushed my hair and whispered, “Shhhhhhhh. Hush baby; don’t cry.”
After daddy left, I never had to change clothes. She was much happier. I thought I should be happy, but I wasn’t. I was sad, but I did not say anything. I didn’t not want to upset her. I tried to be happy. Things started changing. I was different. I didn’t know why. I was getting older. The girls began to giggle about the boys. I did not understand. I tried to giggle, but I didn’t want to. The boys did not pay attention to us.
Then we started to change in other ways, but I was broken. The girls were getting pretty, and funny things were happening to them. Funny things were happening to me, too, but I wasn’t getting pretty. The girls stopped giggling around me. The boys whispered about the girls, but they did not whisper about me. They called me names. I was still a sissy.
She was sad. I asked her why I was broken. Why did the other girls get pretty? Why did they start looking like grown up women while I was still the same? She told me not to ask stupid questions, that I was pretty and just didn’t know it. I didn’t think so. The boys didn’t think so. I didn’t care what the boys thought, though.
When I was twelve I ran away. Mommy had hit me again, but this time she screamed something she’d never said. She screamed, “Dammit Jackie, you were supposed to be a girl! Damn you!”
I didn’t know what she meant. I thought I was a girl. I felt feelings, confused feelings. She just turned away and wouldn’t look at me. I tried to ask what she meant, but she didn’t answer.
I left home then. Away I ran, far away to another world. I don’t know where I went, but here I am. They looked at me funny when they found me. Later I understood, but only later, after they bought me new clothes and burned my dress, and after they told me I would be called Jack.
I don’t know why mother tried to make me something else. I think she wanted a little girl. I think she was sad when I was born. So sad that she got crazy. I never saw her again.