Saturday, April 19, 2014

Butch-Puberty-Dysphoria and Depression

I said in the first post on this Butch series, that Butch childhoods are both complicated and confusing. But for all the confusing complicatedness of Butch childhood, including never having "felt like a girl" I easily skirted applying girl to my body. And by that I mean, I noticed no significant differences between my boy comrades or myself. Even on hot summer days we all ran around shirtless, it was never made mention that I need to put a shirt on because I was a girl. If the occasion arose or it was just plain hot, off my shirt came.

It was a great young, even powerful body, no limits. Or I felt it had none. No homemade bike ramp was high enough that I wouldn't jump, sometimes with less than favourable results. No roof top I wouldn't jump from, no tree limb either. I put my little Butch body through the ringer, and every time it performed to the tough standards I had in mind. I still have the certificate from the President that my granny saved in the family photo album from 7th grade. I had the highest score on the physical fitness test in the whole of the USA, 492 out of a possible 500. Yes, it was an awesome body and it was all mine. I may have had confusions about who I was, I had none about what my body could do or work toward doing.

Somewhere between that 492 and 8th grade, that all changed as my body changed. Puberty hit and it hit hard. Harder than any boy had hit me playing football, harder than any ground or pavement hit when I fell off my bike, harder than when I got hit by a car, harder even than the rocks I was so adept at throwing far. It hit and I couldnt hit it back. I tried, sometimes I tried. Hitting or pounding at the budding breast I didnt want to grow. But nothing stopped it.

Nor could anything stop my uterus from beginning its monthly dreams of creating its own human masterpiece. A bloody nightmare in my opinion. And each time it couldn't give birth to its little Renoir or Van Gogh, I bled. The writer Janet Frame had written in her autobiography of the time she spent in mental asylums, that whenever she was to receive shock treatment each time was "the equivalent, in degree of fear, to an execution." I am not using poetic license when I say that description was exactly how I felt for many years directly before and with each period my body produced.

My body betrayed me. Whatever it was doing or trying to do, wasn't me! And all I could do was watch it like someone witnessing a horrible accident in slow motion, paralyzed and unable to move. Bang! Boom! Crash! And while shame filled every change my body took, every curve of breast or hip but more than that, was anger. I could have vomited an ocean of anger, I was filled to the gills! If I could have pulled these changes from my body, shaped them with bare hands into something human? I was so angry, with baseball bat I could have beaten those unflinching changes into a bloody lump, till they resembled nothing in the ballpark of human. This was not teenage Butch angst, it was an assault on my Butch self, it was war and me with no weapons.

These times feel all at once like a million years ago and yesterday. If I inhale just so, I can still smell the perfume of certain girls. Still feel the night air walking one home after football games. Still see the look in their eye that said they wanted to save me, but didn't know how, outside of doing my homework, so I wouldn't fail. They didn't understand I was waged in war, war torn with many more battles ahead. I still regret not spending the night with one when I had the chance. When she asked, I knew what it meant. But at fifteen I didn't even have butch to arm myself with, and going in naked was out of the question. How could I conquer girls, when I couldn't even conquer myself? 



  1. I had the highest score on the physical fitness test in the whole of the USA, 492 out of a possible 500.

    Excellent, and thanks for the article. I enjoyed reading it.

  2. I can identify with almost everything you say. I tagged along behind my brother and played baseball with the boys. I'm so glad that I didn't "transition".

  3. Kate,

    My bedroom allows it! Just


  4. Good to know there are still some lesbians who don't worship the pseudoscience of psychiatry. Critical thinking is still so hard for most of them..and it's so much fun to call the people you don't like crazy isn't it?