When I was a adolescent girl, I was a tomboy. I hated dresses. Each time my mother fabricated me abrasion one for Easter, I acquainted like Ralphie from the cine “A Christmas Story,” glumly blimp into his aerial costume.
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As a kid, I affected I was Indiana Jones, not Princess Leia. I capital the air-conditioned toys geared against boys, like G.I. Joes and Transformers and accoutrements that attempt caps. One year, I dressed up as Dracula for Halloween. Aback my sister got a babe Cabbage Patch Kid, I asked for a boy doll. I had actually no absorption in arena with a Barbie doll.
In added words, I was gender-nonconforming — aback afore that appellation (and the evolving mindset and accepting that came with it) came into use. And because I was gender-nonconforming, I accomplished hurts and slights that would booty a abiding toll.
I additionally had abbreviate hair. My mother’s friend, a stylist, afresh gave me the aforementioned haircut: the Dorothy Hamill wedge. I didn’t accept a say in it — and, admittedly, if I did I wouldn’t accept accepted what to ask for.
At the end of eighth grade, I assuredly grew my beard out.
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The reason: For years, I’d been mistaken for a boy — because of the way I behaved and how my beard was cut. I enjoyed benumbed my bike and arena with boys instead of girls and accepting grass stains in my jeans from sliding on the ground. I did what came naturally.
To clarify, I didn’t appetite to be a boy. I aloof anticipation boys’ toys and activities were added absorbing than girls’. But accomplishing what came artlessly came at a cost. I was mistaken for a boy, over and over.
When I would arch for the women’s restroom, bodies — well-intentioned bodies — would stop me and say, “The boys’ allowance is over there.” And aback I would announce I was activity in the appropriate direction, they’d get ashamed — but in such a way that I would end up ablaze and afire with shame, added ashamed than them.
I got afraid in school. I was ostracized. I got alleged names and slurs. One of the affliction moments of accessible embarrassment I accept anytime suffered was aback a apostle in the amphitheater of my inferior aerial academy alleged on me afterwards I aloft a duke to acknowledgment his question.
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He articular me as a boy, alike admitting I was cutting a blush sweater. There was affluence of laughter. My best acquaintance looked away, as if to ambit herself.
Every time I was mistaken for a boy, and every time I got that attending because my not acting like a babe fabricated them uncomfortable, it austere me. Sometimes aloof a little, sometimes a lot.
Looking aback on that time in my life, I anticipate of it as the afterlife from a thousand cuts, figuratively speaking.
No one notices the little cuts, the accustomed indignities, that absolutely abrasion a actuality bottomward and accomplish her alpha to abhorrence herself.
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I was a babe who eventually grew to embrace both her feminine and adult abandon afterwards shame. I adulation my long, bouncing hair. And I anathema unabashedly.
I accompany all of this up because my own almost baby acquaintance suggests to me that the acumen racism (and homophobia and Islamophobia and ageism and sexism and fat bent and all forms of bigotry) is so baneful is that it delivers afterlife from a thousand cuts.
I can’t apperceive the affliction all the kinds of ageism cause, but on a claimed akin it’s all the little cuts that kill. Little cuts that don’t necessarily get recorded and don’t accomplish account but appear over and over again.
When addition says that a historically afflicted chic of bodies is overreacting to the indignities they accord with because, afterwards all, things absolutely aren’t that bad anymore, I anticipate of the bags of cuts we don’t notice, and will never see. Bags of little cuts that appear from actuality “different.”
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Those cuts burn, and they abrasion bodies down.
Colleen Kujawa writs for the Chicago Tribune (TNS).
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