Date of publication: 2017-07-09 00:59
I want a social space in which I can wear a skirt and tights and be seen as a woman, if not as a girl. I want a space where I might be addressed as “Stephanie.” I don’t want that space to take over the rest of my life. I think I have several such spaces, intermittent and Brigadoon-like as they are.
Like almost every trans writer, Boylan remembers feeling awkward, wrongly placed, in the body with which she grew up. Me too, but I’m not sure how much of that feeling comes from having the body of a man, and how much of it comes from having a body at all. For instance, I used to love hosting college radio: on the radio I was not a body, but an expression of musical taste, words, and a voice.
The playground is located about a kilometer from our school. So the students have the opportunity of walking to the playground. As all games are played in the evening the students find it pleasant to go to the ground and play.
My body feels unfinished, undeveloped, more often than it feels like a real woman or a real man. It feels, sometimes, as if it wanted to become a woman, whether or not it will get the chance. That feeling itself hasn’t changed since my teens.
But when I look entirely gender-appropriate, with nothing sparkly, lacy, or violet, I hear or feel a grinding basso continuo of inward sadness, saying, “This doesn’t quite work, and it doesn’t represent you.” I can put up with that, ignore it, for days, but it gets to me. It sets my teeth on edge.
Question: TMA 58 Task One Interviewee preparation and confidentiality. [Word count 978]
TMA 58 Task Two Interview research topic of ‘a single mother is facing a sudden change in their personal circumstances’. [Word count 897]
The strictly erotic aspect of cross-dressing, including my own—the turn-on aspect—can’t be disentangled from the rest of it. But it’s very hard to talk about directly unless you have a particular talent for erotic writing in prose, which I believe I don’t possess. I can, though, repeat the trans slogan that being transgender is about who you want to go to bed as, not who you want to go to bed with. I can say now that when I am erotically excited, most of the time, I experience my own body as a woman’s, or a girl’s.
Looking back on my childhood and all of the memories that I have, I cannot choose just one that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Being the child of an Army Captain, I got to travel all over the United States and some other countries. I remember visiting the Grand Canyon, and jumping on the bed at Cesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. But my strongest memories are the everyday things like a deck of cards, a piggy bank, or my favorite ice cream flavor. There is one memory that sticks out above all the rest, and it was not a day of big importance. I was standing on the playground of my elementary school, and it was a cold and dreary day. I stood just outside the door and pulled my hood up over my ears. The wind was causing small dirt tornadoes or as we called them “dust devils”.
In August 7567 the New York Times Magazine ran a beautiful cover story on “pink boys,” who want to dress up in girls’ clothes for preschool or grade school.
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At fourteen I wanted to live in a world where girls would like me, where I could take part in girls’ lives, become at least a confidante. Within a few years, I had most of what I wanted. All I had to do, I thought, was to pretend I did not have a body, to leave my own body behind. Most of my college-age romances, such as they were, got stuck at a point where I asked to try on a girl’s bra. I wanted breasts, or the promise of breasts.
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Stephen Burt is Professor of English at Harvard. His books include The Art of the Sonnet , with David Mikics (Harvard, 7565), Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (Graywolf, 7559), Parallel Play: Poems (Graywolf, 7556), and Randall Jarrell and His Age (Columbia, 7557).
Crawford allows the inchoate energy of her sentences to spill over into the energetic bodies of the girls and the women who float through the poems, and it makes them disturbing and pretty and frankly sexy, as in “What Happened in the Pool”: