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


29 thoughts on “Squashing my feminity

    1. Really? You are the first person who has told me that they can relate to it! I’m not sure that anyone who hasn’t had those feelings would find it beautiful. When I first began blogging I promised myself I woul be totally honest. I think with this post I have finally revealed every last part of me.
      I was worried that people may not take it seriously.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Oh, Janey… Having struggled with femininity issues myself I can relate to what you said on a lot of levels. The only difference is I WANTED to be a girl but thought it was “better” to be a boy. I think anyone with any type of sexual confusion would understand what you’re saying. What you just wrote was a HUGE deal. My hat is off to both you and Ms. Spiritual Dragonfly for your brave commitment to be honest. OMG! You totally rock, girl! {{{{{Janey}}}}} (Do you mind me calling you Janey? I would just love to hug you and that’s what I’d be calling you. But I won’t if there are any negative emotions attached to it. LET ME KNOW, girlfriend.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy to be understood.
      I haven’t come across Spiritual Dragonfly – although I may have seen comments on your blog.
      It’s the weirdest thing – only one person has ever called me Janey, and he used to beat me black and blue, but it was a long time ago, and I no longer associated the name with him. When you first called me that I felt as if I had been wrapped in a cosy blanket on a cold night, and invited to sit beside your log fire.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You made me all teary. I just want to hug and rock you sometimes. I guess it’s that little girl I want to rock. Sigh… Maybe because I have some of those hurts from childhood, too, and I wish with all my heart someone had done that for me. {{{Janey}}} http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/3151302http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-mom-her-toddler-daughter-3151302.jpg


        Liked by 1 person

        1. I checked out Spiritual Dragonfly’s post. So many things I could say, but all of it is obvious. I liked what she said at the end – that she wouldn’t change a thing, because it’s made her who she is today. I used to say that, until I saw my children had been damaged as a result of my relationship with an abusive man.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Jane! I felt the boy energy so strongly, felt the so-sadness about the bra and beyond, and love the resolution. It’s brave, feels very real, and is a most credible self-disclosure. It holds so much wisdom.
    I stepped out the blog-world for a while, and yours is the first blog I returned to! Must’ve missed lots of good writing from you. . .This post reminded me so much of a Dar Williams song. I don’t know if you’re familiar with her? Here’s a link. It’s find it very resonant with what you’ve written. Hope the link works. If not, just google “When I was a Boy” + You Tube.
    And thank you for your words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pat! I’m so pleased to hear from you – and so glad you’re back. I wondered what had happened to you. How strange that you reappeared at the exact time I wrote that post. I have never mentioned anything about my gender mix-up before.
      Thank you for the link to that beautiful song. It made the hairs stand up all over my body (not being one who removes body hair.) I’ll have to chase up the rest of Dar Williams’ songs.
      Thank you, and again; thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so glad that you liked that song!! It makes my hairs stand up, too–every time I hear it. Dar is a great singer-songwriter, you are a great and uncompromisingly honest blog-writer, and I’m so glad to find you here, still. Your presence and your post both felt very welcoming to this prodigal blogger.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That is one lovely piece of writing – I can feel your energy, as you flee through the woods. The descripiton of nature is wonderful. Fleeing from your female identity perhaps?

    I am definitely a woman and happy (if sometimes frustrated) to be so. But very happy to avoid many of those cliches our sex is so riddled with.
    I DO NOT have a stack of shoes and not a single pair of high heels (a few trainers, pairs of boots that’s about all.) I DO NOT like clothes shopping, in fact my husband (he of curry cooking fame) has bought my last five or six items of clothing – except pants :). I DO NOT like pink and never did. I am not addicted to soap operas or reality TV, or talent shows and I have never watched and drooled over Dirty Dancing (for which sinful omission the girls at work now officially think I’m a bit weird.)
    I got married in black, wearing a pair of Doc Marten boots – I never wanted to be a FAIRY-BLOODY-PRINCESS!
    I understand the OFF SIDE rule.
    I am defninitely WOMAN – I just don’t fit into those boxes.
    There are many of us – and we are very varied. And we’re all still women.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the stereo-typing was largely responsible for my confusion.When I was at primary school all the girls my age were girly, and the older girls had funny hairdos and make-up, they wore clothes and shoes that you couldn’t climb trees in, and they giggled behind their hands, giving boys coy glances, then walking away as if they weren’t interested – but they were! I felt that I wasn’t one of them, so I must be a boy. Boys just got on and did normal things like
      playing Cowboys and Indians, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
      By the way, although I’m not a shoe (or handbag) person, i have a pair of very high heels for when I’m pretending to be a cross-dressing man!
      Don’t ask!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nothing wrong with a bit of crossdressing – us ladies have been doing it for years! And you’ve got to have your hobbies 🙂 Yeah, boys get to do much more interesting things, even now. At my son’s new secondary school footbal is compulsory for boys but girls don’t play unless they choose to join the female footbal team. Kind of a fifties mentality going on there still, I think!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. It is a beautiful poem Jane 🙂 I was happy enough being a girl, I think, but was definitely a ‘tom-boy’. I preferred boys toys to girlie things. Girls were always seeming so spiteful and silly. Boys got on and played games, scraps were mostly over and forgotten as soon as they were done rather than harboured with plots for revenge. Boys didn’t whisper and giggle behind your back or spread silly tales. I really enjoyed the sense of adventure and flying over fields and hedgerows. Woodlands are magical places to be able to retreat to as a child 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Flying – it felt like that, didn’t it? When you are at the height of fitness, and you are runing fast, at that point where both feet are off the ground, your body is pushing and your legs are stretching as far as they can, and there is just that moment when it fells as if you can stay up there…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for this lovely post. Really beautiful. It’s sad and frustrating how the rigid gender stereotypes we STILL have cause so much damage to both kids and adults. We persist in this invalidating belief that there are two genders who are polar opposites, instead of understanding that it’s a spectrum made of of learned behaviours, biological traits, and personal preferences. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I understand how you feel. I sometimes feel like I’m trapped, not in a female body but just trapped in a body. It sounds crazy, but I feel like my spirit is limited because of this shell we are forced to live in. Because I am flesh, I do things of the flesh. Does that make sense? I feel as though I can’t be who I’m intended to be.


  7. It makes complete sense to me. We’re constantly pulled back to the flesh, no matter how we try to escape, and it distracts and confuses us, drawing us away from the things which sometimes seem more important. Thanks for reading. I hope you are well x


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