Obitsu doll, by Lisa Lees

The beginning was quite confusing.

Like most people, I was assigned a gender role at birth and given no script, though plenty of correction and guidance. Unfortunately, from the time of my earliest memories, I was certain the casting was horribly wrong.

Born the same year that Christine Jorgenson made headlines as the world's first widely publicized recipient of so-called sex change surgery, that tabloid style of (mis)information was all I knew about being transexual. (Web pages and their (mis)information would not exist until more than forty years later.)

I don't know whether I ever tried to explain my feelings or claim to be a girl. In the 1950's that would not have been well received. Having no sisters eliminated most opportunities for me to express a gender preference, and I'm quite certain I would have been a tomboy if I had been born female, anyway. I do remember fighting with my parents every single time I was forced to have my hair cut, and I remember being teased and bullied in nursery school through second grade (after which my parents put me in a small private school), though not the details.

The end of grade school, when everyone began going through puberty, was a particularly trying time. Kids in my neighborhood who had been my friends began to say I was weird. The girl who lived across the street tricked me into saying that I was her girlfriend, and everyone stood around laughing. I think that's when I decided that staying in my room and reading is what I would do during middle school.

I dropped out of high school twice because of bullying. The first time it was by other students, the second time it was by teachers. (I was bullied unmercifully by P.E. teachers. They did things back then they'd be fired for now.) After the second time I dropped out I was forced into counseling. I had almost worked up the courage to tell the psychiatrist about my GID when he decided I was just another hyper-intelligent kid from a dysfunctional family and shunted me off to see a psychologist who I didn't trust at all.

That might have been a good thing. I've heard horror stories about what was done to some young gender variant people in the sixties. I lived in Oklahoma, hardly a hotbed of any kind of liberation. So for a long time I continued to be a strange person with a secret; then for a short while the secret was exposed; now I'm back to being a strange person with a secret.