Daily Archives: September 9, 2015

Squashing my feminity

This week, in The Sandbox challenge (5) Calen asks us:

What is it about you that makes you different?

When I started making notes for this post, I had forgotten what made me different. Most of my quirks and preferences, while they may not be run-of-the-mill, are faily normal. I went back to my childhood, and that’s where I found it. My ancient – and fairly unusual – secret, although it is no longer a secret.


as a child others defined me by my differences
while blind to what lurked behind them

all the other girls twirled in skirts
experimented with illicit lipstick
giggled and trilled in pink-frilled gaggles
pulled scraps of badly stitched fabric
over Barbie’s alarmingly pointy plastic bra

not me!

mild wind whipping my hair into a tangled streak
feet so nimble I was almost flying, with reaching limbs I ran

down the drive and across the lane
jumping on the hedge and leaping
with stretched legs, my fleet feet leading me
across the stream at the edge of the field
breathing the green scent of spike-leaved grass
startling soft snouted cows, heads down, feeding, I streaked

scissoring over the electric fence
lungs straining, heart beating, legs weakening, I streaked

alongside the ancient, crouching hedge
studded by a rotting row of hawthorn and elms, I streaked

to the raised tree-filled platform beside the parent stream
my secret place, my very own forest of dreams
where no-one would find me, where I could be
who I believed I was meant to be

not a tom-boy, as others coined me, but just a boy

when my mother said I needed to wear a bra
this is where I came to cry
a boy in a bra, crying shamed girls tears
and when the next cruel womanly symptoms appeared
I wanted to slip through the leaf mould
sink into the sweet friable soil
and let the roots wrap around me
squashing my feminity

I grew up, I married, I willingly gave birth to children. I was never physically attracted to women, and yet, in my head, I was a man in a woman’s body. At the age of forty I toyed with thoughts of changing my sex, but knew it would be difficult for my daughters and son. For the first time, I talked about my feelings, to a caring young gay friend who knew me well.

I won’t go into the things that he said in response to my desperate words, but he made me realise that I was mistaken; that I didn’t want to be a man after all.

It’s tough, feeling as if you are trapped in the wrong body, but it worries me when I read of children taking hormones to for a sex-change, and having surgery. I think few people can speak on this subject with authority, but I can. While sex change has improved many lives, there are others who have regretted it. I wouldn’t advise medical or surgical assistance of this nature for a child.

©Jane Paterson Basil



within my bewildered brain
disorderly children play badminton
hitting asides, sometimes missing
while the shuttlecock veers off, ricochets wildly
irritating tired grey matter
with the tickling brush of feathers
increasing uncertainty
confusing the issue as I try to decide

the plastic-coated head briefly
adheres to a tenuous thought
my fingers nip, reach for a decision
but it slips away, zigzagging
to distant corners of my cortex
pinging up different aspects of my quandary
and I wish those wayward children
would give it a rest

©Jane Paterson Basil

Written for Writing 101: Day 3. One word prompt: UNCERTAINTY