I listened to a CBC interview this afternoon. It was The Next Chapter and Shelagh Rogers had a fascinating conversation with Ivan Coyote, talking about their book, Tomboy Survival Guide. I was completely enthralled and ended up sitting in my car in my underground parking spot until it was over.
I had never heard of Ivan, but as soon as I got in, I had to find out more. So began my internet journey exploring more of what this amazing human being has accomplished. There are lots of books... a TED talk, and then I found this super video on YouTube...
I've always thought of myself as a women, but when I was young, I absolutely hated being a girl. Boys were so much cooler... lets face it, girls were just bloody silly, really. Most of them couldn't throw a ball, or fight. I prided myself on my throwing arm!
Yes, I was a tree-climbing, jeans-wearing, soccer-playing, jumping-off-roofs kinda girl... a getting-in-trouble-for-coming-home-muddy big ol' Tomboy. And as for wearing a dress, hah! My mum had to chase me around the house to get me into one!
As I said, since puberty hit, I had always taken my sexuality for granted; I'd certainly never explored any alternative thoughts about gender, nor had any doubt about who I was. But it made me think... if I had been born 50 years later, would things have turned out differently?
Listening to the interview with Ivan brought so much back to me. And those memories certainly made me give my gender identity some pretty serious thought as I explored the thoughts I had as a young girl all those many years ago.
Goodreads describes Ivan's book as: "a funny and moving memoir told in stories, in which Ivan recounts the pleasures and difficulties growing up a tomboy in Canada's Yukon, and how they learned to embrace their tomboy past while carving out a space for those of us who don't fit neatly into boxes or identities or labels."I've yet to read it, but I definitely will. Much of what Ivan describes, I found incredibly relatable. Especially this excerpt quoted from Goodreads (written using gender neutral pronouns":
"Ivan writes movingly about many firsts: the first time they were mistaken for a boy; the first time they purposely discarded their bikini top so they could join the boys at the local swimming pool..."
As I said, I related completely. That could have been me.
I too remember the day a shopkeeper mistook me for a boy, "What can I do for you, sonny?" I remember the thrill I got from hearing that like it was yesterday. And, ok... I may not have discarded my bikini top to join the boys, because I never bothered actually wearing one! I don't think they were even available for a girl back then. But I never wore a top if we were out playing Cowboys and Indians, why the heck would I?! It wasn't until I was around 10 or 11 that my mum said that perhaps I shouldn't be doing that any more... that was a sad day for sure.
|Left to Right: Me age 10, brother Mike age 8, my dad and brother Ed, age 3|
The subject is both fascinating and, I have to be completely honest and say, it's also quite scary and confusing. Everyone's life journey is different, but I think it's a conversation I'm kinda glad I didn't have any reason to explore or discuss at the time.
My life could have been very different.