I never thought it would happen to me, but I’m clearly a girly girl. As I type this, I’m wearing a bright pink shirt and I just finished weeping openly at a video of deer playing with a dog on FB. That’s all it takes to be a girl, right?
I’ve always been confused around gender issues. That’s what happens when despite the fact that you don’t have a penis you are raised as a boy and told that crying is for sissies, so go do some push-ups until you get over it, pussy. It’s no wonder then that my first husband referred to me as “Bubba” because I did all the heavy lifting around the house (while wearing manly-colored polo shirts his parents bought for me at garage sales) and that when my second husband grew his hair out long enough to wear in a ponytail, I kind of felt that I should grow in a beard to even out the hormonal imbalance in our family. (And this was before I was menopausal and could possibly have done so).
But some time in my 40s, I finally reconciled with my own gender. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always known I was a girl and wanted to be one. I just wasn’t sure about how others felt about it. It’s hard to feel self-confident in your sexual identity when you’re being pressured to have children while you’re cleaning the gutters.
One day I was holding a sketch comedy rehearsal in my garage and one of the women suggested we use a curling iron as a prop and then asked me if I had one. She assumed I’d have a curling iron!! That may have been the first moment I believed other women saw me as one of them, not some outsider or mole planted in their midst to report back on what makes women tick.
These days, there seem to be more choices when it comes to identity. You can check any box, no box or all of the boxes if you want to. But back in the 60s and 70s, we had to choose teams. You were either a cheerleader or a football player — you couldn’t be both. And yes, I played tag football in junior high. You either made Thanksgiving dinner or you watched — and hey, who wanted to slave away in the kitchen when you could loaf? You either expressed your emotions or you sucked them up and did some push-ups until you got over them.
I can still do the push-ups, but I’ll wear flowers in my hair or organic free-range gluten-free lipstick when I do. And if a few tears scare you, I advise you not to sit next to me when I’m watching dog food commercials, ‘cuz there are going to be some waterworks!