I Never Really Was One (by Grant Bentley)

I Never Really Was One

By Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

My name is Lynn Jefferson. I was born at 12:04 a.m., January 1st, 1994. I was the ‘New Year’s baby’ for the city of Calgary that year. However, I don’t consider Calgary my hometown as I have never actually lived there. I have spent my entire life up to this point in a relatively small rural community about fifty miles northeast of Calgary. But, like any worthy southern Alberta hockey fan, I wore a Calgary Flames jersey most of the winter.

I never did get into video games or computers. I loved the outdoors and was about as active as any kid could be. I rode my bike with wild abandon, trying every trick I ever saw on TV or on my BMX videos. I could ride a skateboard better than I could walk and was the master of ‘street’. Of course, to get that good at both of those, I had to go through my own weight in band-aids and bandages over the years, but that’s just the price you pay for being an active young boy. I played hockey in the Atom division and worked my way up to Bantam. I tried every daring stunt imaginable on the town’s playground equipment. I even broke my arm once trying to walk across the top of the monkey bars after it rained. They get real slippery when they’re wet…go figure. Mom was furious with me for being so foolish. That is, of course, after she rushed me to the hospital and I was sporting a very cool bright red cast from my elbow to my fingers. I didn’t realize how many kids gave a damn about me, either, until I showed up at school and everyone was lining up to sign my cast. I must say, I felt very important that day and for several days afterwards.

Of course, all my daredevil activities would have had little or no significance without my four best buddies. The five of us had grown up together and were the epitome of most typical small town boys. We had a rope swing that launched us twenty feet into the local creek. We climbed cliffs and trees, biked, skated, skateboarded, raced, wrestled, had snow ball fights, tobogganed, leapt off roofs into piles of snow, and did everything else five rambunctious boys could think up that might be exciting or, more importantly, death defying. We were pretty much inseparable and our every thought and action fit together perfectly. We were The Fearsome Five.

On my first day of kindergarten, however, I needed to go to the bathroom. When I headed for the boys’ bathroom, the teacher quickly grabbed my arm and told me I had to go into the girls’ bathroom. I looked at her like she had lost her mind.

“Lynn, honey, you can’t go in there, that’s the boys’ washroom,” she told me.

“I know,” I replied.

“But sweetie,” she said, “you’re a girl. Girls can’t go into the boys’ washroom.”

It would have been devastating enough for a five-year-old boy to be told he’s a girl, but to be told by your teacher, in front of all your buddies, was too much. I burst into tears, yanked my arm from her grip, turned, and ran from the classroom. I didn’t stop running until I was home. My mom was waiting for me on the front steps as I ran up the walk.

“Miss Jackson called me a girl,” I cried.

“Oh, Lynn,” my mom responded as she pulled me into a hug. “Honey, that’s because you are a girl.”

“No, I’m not!” I screamed as I tore myself away from her, ran into the house and threw myself on my bed, sobbing.

Within seconds, Mom was sitting on the edge of my bed rubbing my back. I have no idea how long I cried, but eventually I stopped and rolled over to look at her. It was obvious she had been crying too.

“I’m not a girl!” I stated very emphatically.

“Oh, honey,” Mom said. “How can I explain this? Boys are different from girls. They have different parts. Baby, you have girl parts.”

“I don’t care,” I declared.“I’m a boy. I know I am. I do boy things. I hate girl things. God just forgot to give me a wiener. I keep asking Him for one, but I don’t think He’s listening.”

“Oh, sweetie,” Mom said. “I know you like to do boy things, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Lots of girls like to do boy things, but later when they get older, they like to do girl things. You wait and see. In a few years, you’ll want to do girl things too.”

“No I won’t!” I shouted. “I’m a boy! I’m a boy! I’m a boy!”

“Okay, you need to settle down sweetie. We’ll talk some more later,” she said as the doorbell rang.

Just to emphasize my point, I shouted, “I’m a boy!” as she left the room.

A minute later, Tommy and Ronnie walked into my room.

“Hi Lynn,” they both said.

“Hi,” I responded.

“Why did Miss Jackson call you a girl?” Tommy asked.

“I don’t know, cause I’m not! I’m a boy!” I stated emphatically.

“Well we know you’re a boy,” Ronnie stated, also with some conviction.

“Can you come out and play?” Tommy asked.

“I don’t know, I’ll ask Mom,” I replied.

When the three of us trooped into the kitchen, Mom was sitting there with tears in her eyes.

“Mom, you okay?” I asked her.

“Yes sweetie, I’m okay,” she replied. “I’m just thinking.”

“Why are you crying?” I asked, concerned.

“I’m not really crying,” she said. “Just thinking about some serious grown up stuff.”

“Okay. Can I go out and play then?” I asked.

“Yes of course,” she responded. “Just be back in time for dinner.”

“Okay,” I said, and the three of us ran out the back door.

“Don’t slam the…” Mom called out…too late. We were gone and, of course, the door slammed shut behind us. Thank goodness it was the only door that slammed shut.

At five years of age, black is black and white is white. Boys are boys and girls are girls. However, I couldn’t watch my buddies pee behind a bush, even at that young age, and not realize something was missing. I wondered if maybe God had just put me together too fast and wasn’t paying attention; you know? I really wasn’t sure what went wrong. When I was younger, it resulted in my own—I’m sure, relatively unique—bedtime prayer. Before getting into bed each night, I prayed that I would wake up the next day with that one thing God had forgotten to give me: a penis. But being a boy didn’t depend on having or not having that particular body part. It didn’t depend on anything more than how I felt. It was a state of being. It was what I was. In spite of God’s glaring oversight, I was a boy. I had absolutely no doubt about that.

It was several years later that I learned that the tears I had seen in my mother’s eyes that day with Tommy and Ronnie were tears of realization of that very possibility.

My mom loved learning and she spent as much time as possible learning new things. I think she may be the most knowledgeable person I will ever know. She never went beyond high school, but I think she could have qualified for several degrees if they had let her write the exams. She was always fascinated with learning for its own sake, but what intrigued her the most were what some might call controversial concepts and issues. Just the fact that they were thought to be controversial piqued her interest. She always wanted to know what made them contentious, and why. Over the years, for no other reason than it was controversial, one of the many things that had caught her attention was the concept of being transgender. When I was SO insistent that I was a boy, even though I was only five, it set her mind in motion. As it had been a number of years since she had investigated it, she began to re-research the idea of being transgender in earnest.

I can’t even begin to explain how blessed I was to have had the mom I have…and dad too, although my dad took a little convincing. I remember hearing Mom and Dad arguing a couple of nights after my blowup.

“That’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard,” Dad said. “She’s five years’ old for God’s sake. How can you even think she’s transgendered?”

“Don’t get all upset and hostile,” Mom said. “If you do, then you won’t be willing to listen. You didn’t see him the other day. I did…and he was way past being upset. He was devastated.”

“Stop referring to her as he,” Dad said.

“Just think about it, please,” Mom said. “Tomboys know they’re girls who like to take part in boys’ activities. Lynn’s reaction was so intense. It wasn’t ‘I like to play boy’s games and be with my boy friends’. It wasn’t ‘I want to be a boy’, or even ‘I feel like a boy’. It was ‘I AM A BOY!’ There’s a difference.”

“God, I don’t know,” Dad said. “The thought of MY daughter being transgendered…I don’t know. Things like that don’t happen to normal people.”

“Yes,” Mom responded. “They do.”

I slipped into my room at that point. It was obvious they were talking about me, and about me being a boy, but I had no idea what transgendered was. It obviously had something to do with me and my dad didn’t like it.

My mom must have won him over though, because there were so many different ways he could have reacted…any number of them being negative and destructive. I guess, however, they decided that if, in fact, I was just a tomboy, I would grow out of it and become interested in girls’ activities in time. But, if I was transgendered, I would remain a boy in spite of my physical attributes. In the end, though, I had two parents who were willing to believe in me, even at such a young age. In spite of the fact that I was born with a girl’s body, I WAS a boy and, thank God, they allowed me to be a boy.

Mom was right in there. I was her little boy. With Mom, it was he, him, his, and so on when referring to me. I did notice, especially as I got older, that Dad kind of skirted the issue a bit. With him it was Lynn or Lynn’s. He tended to avoid the gender pronouns when referring to me. When I was eleven, I can vividly remember my dad talking to a neighbour about me one day. During their conversation, he referred to me as ‘he’. I can’t explain how wonderful that made me feel. It was like he had taken that all-important last step in accepting that I was a boy. I had a grin on my face for the rest of the day.

In school, other than my kindergarten teacher, I’m not quite sure how many of my other teachers even questioned whether or not I was a boy. I learned later that my mom had spoken to the school counsellor and principal when I started grade one. She had made it very clear that for all intents and purposes, I considered myself a boy and she wanted me to be treated as such. She had come armed with reams of information about being transgender. Surprisingly, though, she didn’t need it. Both the principal and counsellor agreed that, based on what she had told them, at the very least, my reaction to being identified or treated as a girl would have been very angrily negative.

I’m not sure how convinced they were that I could possibly be transgender, but they agreed that I would be treated as a boy, with one minor condition. I was to use the small private staff washroom. As the counsellor said, it wasn’t a matter of me seeing other boys, but it was a matter of them seeing me. If I was a boy, and all my classmates assumed I was, how could I or anyone else explain to them why I was missing a very distinct body part? Not only that, but if I was found out and some parent got on their high horse about a ‘girl’ being allowed to use the boys’ washroom and change for P.E. with the boys, it could cause repercussions that would put me and them in a very difficult position. As it happened, few questions were asked about why I didn’t use the boys’ washroom. If asked, I simply told the other kids that it was what the teachers told me to do, so that’s what I did. The only time I found myself in a changing room situation with the other guys was in hockey. Thank God for jock straps and baggy boxers.

My buds and I continued to defy death daily as the Fearsome Five. Life was good. In fact, when I was eleven, our hockey team actually made it to provincials. I would like to say we won the gold medal, but we didn’t. We did, however, come home with a bronze medal. Not bad for a bunch of small town boys playing against fifteen teams from major cities like Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge. I played right wing and scored four goals during the tournament, something I still feel proud of, even today. I also competed in a couple of skateboarding competitions in Calgary that year. I came in second for my age group in the first one and won for my age group in the second one. I ended up with a medal and a huge trophy. It was so cool.

However, that came to a screeching halt a few months after I turned twelve. By this time, I was not unaware of the fact that I had a girl’s body. That’s not something I could easily ignore, but I was living my life as I was meant to, as a boy. However, when I started to develop breasts, I was totally freaked out. Girl’s body or not, that just should not happen. First, I was a boy! Second, how the hell was I going to explain this to the guys? As if developing breasts wasn’t bad enough, when I started my first period I was devastated. Thank God it didn’t happen when I was at school and, thank God, I learned enough from my mom and in sex ed to know what was happening, what to do, and I knew where Mom kept her tampons.

As I said, I was well aware of the fact that I had a girl’s body, but I was in no way ready to deal with these changes, and I do mean, no way. Now, suddenly I really was turning into a girl. That is not something any twelve-year-old boy should have to deal with…ever. Not that I didn’t know the answer, I still kept asking myself, ‘How could these things be happening to me?’ I was a boy for fuck’s sake.

Unfortunately, the changes obviously couldn’t be ignored. It was all I thought about day and night, and I soon lost the motivation to do anything. The changes were heartbreaking and I felt hopeless. I just wanted to fade away and began to withdraw into myself. I avoided my buddies, my mom, my dad, everyone. I just wanted to be alone, to hide from life. I had been more or less successful at hiding it from my mom and dad. I spent a lot of time in my room or out sitting alone by the creek, just watching the water flow by.

When one of my teachers called and told Mom I seemed to be off in a world of my own recently and wasn’t paying attention in class or doing my work, she began to wonder if something was wrong. Then, after the guys had come around a few times asking for me, she knew something was definitely very wrong. I was always with the guys.

Mom quietly knocked on my door one evening. When she opened the door and came in, it was obvious I had been crying. She came over and sat down on the side of my bed and stroked my hair. Eventually, I showed her my budding breasts.

“Look Mom,” I said, as I raised my shirt and the tears started again. “I don’t know what to do. This can’t be happening to me, Mom, I’m a guy. Guy’s don’t grow boobs…or have periods.”

“Oh honey,” she said.

“Mom, I can’t do this. I’m turning into a girl and I can’t stop it,” I told her, still in tears. Then, I looked at her, took a deep breath, stopped crying, and firmly, with deep conviction said simply, “I won’t be a girl, Mom, I won’t.”

The conviction in my voice, when I said ‘I won’t,’ scared her. There were two ways to keep me from having to live my life as a girl. One she had researched on the Internet. The other one, she didn’t even want to think about. She knew now, without doubt, I was not a tomboy. She also knew, since I was obviously feeling so totally devastated, that she had to do something to ease my mind…now.

“You won’t have to be a girl,” she said as she pulled me into a tight hug. Then releasing me, she smiled and said, “Come with me, I want to show you something.” I was about to discover what an insightful and amazing person my mother was and just how much she loved me.

Holding my hand, she headed straight for the den and her computer. As soon as we were in the den, she grabbed another chair, set it down beside hers, and we watched her computer boot up. Then we talked…talked and did research on the Internet. We revisited all the sites she had bookmarked from before. In fact, we stayed up all night. By the time we were finished, I realized I was transgender. In my heart and mind I was one gender; physically I was another. A lot of questions were answered for me before the night was out. Mom not only changed my life, but she saved my life that night.

I found out about hormone therapy, which would help me to achieve the outer appearance of a man. I learned about the different surgeries like breast reduction and sexual reassignment. These things would allow me to physically become the man I was meant to be. Even though I might have to wait a few years, I was elated. It was a new beginning for me, and when we finished, I hugged my mom, gave her a huge kiss on the cheek, and thanked her. As I walked slowly to my room, I smiled, no, actually I grinned from ear to ear, and a tingle shot up my spine, as I thought to myself, ‘I really won’t be a girl’.

Our first decision was to seek medical help, both from a surgical point of view and a psychological point of view…psychological first. With the changes that were going on, I needed to learn how to deal with them. Up to this point, as I said, I was not doing very well. Although I could hide them now, I was still developing breasts, and, not that anyone would know, I was still going to be having monthly periods. These were things that should not happen to a twelve-year old boy and to cope, I needed more help than my mom was able to give me.

With the psychologist’s help, and the coping skills they taught me, I was able to adjust to the changes I was experiencing and continue on normally in my day-to-day life. My biggest issue, as far as I was concerned, was going to be concealing my developing breasts. My hope was that they would be small and not, God forbid, double D or worse. The last thing I needed was to look like Dolly Parton. At least if they were small I could hide them with an elastic bandage. If they were going to be huge, I was screwed. Thankfully, as it turned out, they were small and easily concealed. I was able to continue on as one of the guys with few concerns. My voice didn’t begin to deepen when my friends did, and I didn’t hit a big growth spurt, but I could live with that. I just played the ‘late developer’ card.

Also, psychologically, there was the little issue of being declared to have gender identity disorder. Even though it’s a term that annoys the hell out of me, especially the disorder part, without that diagnosis from a psychiatrist, nothing would happen. I saw several different psychiatrists and psychologists over the next few weeks. Their consensus was that I was not simply a tomboy. I did, in fact, have gender identity disorder. I now had the comfort in knowing that, for sure now, I would get to become the man I was meant to be.

I was still thirteen, nearly fourteen, when I started the actual counselling process that would eventually lead to my body matching my mind. I spent almost a year in counselling, much of which, I’m sure, had more to do with them being certain I was transgender than it had to do with preparing me. But that’s just my opinion. Just a few weeks shy of my fifteenth birthday, I started the hormone treatments. I was told my breasts might appear to get smaller, as would my hips and thighs as body fat would begin to redistribute. I was also told to expect a growth spurt and my muscle mass to increase and become firmer and stronger. However, I was already pretty firm and muscular from being so active and really didn’t expect much change. I did slim down though, as I grew five inches, topping off at five-eleven. Happily, I was now no longer four to six inches shorter than the rest of the guys.

To my elation though, after starting the testosterone treatments, my periods stopped, my voice began to deepen and I very slowly began to grow facial hair…very slowly. In some ways, it was almost comical. Every morning for months, I would carefully inspect my top lip, waiting for the first sign of a moustache. I knew that before I was finished high school, I would be able to grow a sad little wispy moustache just like my buds. That may not sound like a big deal, but to me it was the biggest and I was way past impatient waiting for it to happen.

Even though they wouldn’t get any bigger, I wanted my breasts gone as soon as possible. In consultation with my doctors and my mom and dad, it was decided that I would have it done six months after starting the testosterone treatments. I would be still be only fifteen. And, thankfully, because of their small size, the surgery would be minimal as would any scaring if there was any at all. I also wanted my ovaries gone. Even though I was told they should atrophy because of the testosterone, I still wanted them gone—but that would be later.

Full sexual reassignment was the big question mark. Going from female to male ‘down there’ was a very complicated process. There were no guarantees and I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. God had not given me a penis and I wasn’t sure the surgeons could do what God couldn’t do. But I decided I had several years to contemplate that one. Anyway, as important as having a penis may seem, its absence would not stop me from living my life as a man…the man I was meant to be. As I said earlier, being a boy or a man is a state of being. It’s who you are in your heart and mind. It’s not dependent on having or not having a penis, although having one would have been nice.

My breast surgery was scheduled for the last week of March of my sophomore year. When we received the call saying I could be scheduled in for the surgery in a week, Mom phoned the school to let them know, and to set up a way to get my work so I wouldn’t fall behind. I can’t explain how I felt as we entered the hospital. It was something in between total terror and total elation. It turned out I had nothing to be worried about though. Everything with the surgery went perfectly. They were gone. Yes!!! This summer, I would be able to do something I had not been able to do for three years. I would be able to take my shirt off and get a tan, just like the rest of the guys. I was on cloud nine.

The day after my breast surgery, I was resting in my hospital bed recovering. As I was gazing out the window I was thinking about it all, and I realized how truly blessed I was. My parents had accepted and supported me, my school administrators and teachers had accepted and supported me, and, considering most female-to-male transgender people don’t even start their transformation until they are adults, I would have achieved much of my transformation while still in high school. Life was good once again, or getting there.

My thoughts were interrupted when I heard a quiet knock on my door. I didn’t realize it, but I was about to be blessed one more time. When I turned to look, my four best friends were standing there grinning at me. I must have looked like I was going to go into shock or something because Tommy immediately apologized.

“Hey, we’re sorry, man,” he said. “Maybe we shouldn’t have come. You want us to come back later?”

“Uh…no…it’s…okay, man,” I stuttered.

“You sure?” Ronnie asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” I said with a weak smile before asking, “How did you know I was in the hospital?”

“I was in the office when your mom phoned the school,” Ben replied.

“They didn’t say why I was in the hospital, did they?” I asked nervously.

“No they didn’t,” Ben responded as I gave a sigh of relief.

“Don’t be so nervous.” Jason said with a grin. “I know you think we’re clueless, but we’ve kinda had you figured out for a while now.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“How many times have we wrestled?” Ronnie asked.

“I don’t know, hundreds?” I said.

“And you thought we wouldn’t notice you don’t have a dick?” Ben questioned.

“Oh God,” I sighed as my eyes filled with tears.

“How to be subtle, dickhead,” Tommy admonished him.

“Hey, don’t worry, we understand, man…and it’s all cool,” Ben said with conviction.

“You understand?” I questioned.

“Of course. Not that we really ever thought about it or cared. It wasn’t till Jason found some stuff online that we figured it out. You’re transgendered,” Tommy said with a proud smile.

“What?” I almost shouted, totally astonished.

“Yeah, we spent hours online learning all about it, and we talked to your mom after school today before we came over,” Tommy stated.

“You’re kidding,” I said, the amazement still showing in my voice.

“Jason brought it up one day when we were hanging out his place and you weren’t there,” Ronnie said.

“But why?” I asked, still a little shocked.

“You know how definite you are about being a guy?” Jason asked.

“Yeah, cause I AM a guy,” I said.

“I never doubted that, none of us did. You’ve always been ‘one of the guys’. But I also knew you were either physically a girl or had a quarter inch long dick. So when you started to grow that itty, bitty, little moustache, and since I know girls don’t usually grow moustaches,” Jason said, grinning, “I did a search. After getting through all the stupid crap that always comes up, I finally found one site about being transgender. It explained about transgender guys getting hormone treatments to grow facial hair and stuff. It was like one of the first steps in getting a sex change.”

After Tommy and Jason’s revelation, I was stunned.

“I don’t fuckin’ believe this,” I exclaimed, before asking, “You guys actually did that?”

“Yeah,” Tommy replied.

“And you’re really okay with it?” I asked.

“Hey, it’s not everyone that can say they had a girl friend who got turned into a boy friend,” Ronnie said with a laugh.

I just smiled and said, “Yeah right, thanks…I think.”

“Hey, we’ve been The Fearsome Five since forever, man, and that’s never gonna change,” Ronnie stated.

“Yeah, buds forever, remember?” Tommy said.

I quickly thought back. I guess it had almost been forever. We were probably one or two when our moms would visit and we would play together. Now, we were fifteen and we had been best buds and pretty much inseparable for all those years. I felt a little bit of guilt when I thought about how I had doubted their willingness to accept me.

“Yeah, forever,” I responded with a grin, before looking at Jason and adding, “Itty, bitty?”

Tommy immediately leaned in and squinted at my lip like he was trying to see something too small to be visible.

“Asshole,” I said as I clipped him across the top of his head, causing everyone to laugh.

“Oh yeah, and speaking of itty bitty, you should close your curtains if you don’t want anyone to know you got boobs,” Ronnie said, laughing.

“I don’t any more,” I announced with a grin.

“Holy fuck, you got them cut off?” Ben asked, sounding astonished.

“Well they don’t just hack them off,” I replied, laughing at his reaction.

“We know that,” Tommy said with a grin. “It explained how they reduce them on that website.”

“I must have missed that part,” Ben said in his own defence.

“So?” Jason asked. “When do you get your sexual reassignment?”

“Wow,” I replied. “You really have been doing your homework.”

“We told you, man. We spent hours checking it out,” Tommy responded.

“Obviously,” I said with a grin.

“So?” Jason repeated.

“That’s the really scary one,” I replied. “I want to have it done…I think. But it’s really complicated and I’m going to have to work up a lot more courage first.”

“Well whatever you decide, man, you will always be one of us,” Ben said as tears once again filled my eyes.

The reason I was in the hospital quickly became insignificant. We got onto other topics after that, joked, bantered back and forth, and laughed so much the nurses had to ask us to settle down more than once. The guys stayed until visiting hours were over and we had the best time.

After they left, I couldn’t get the smile off my face. I had always known I was a guy. I had always known I was one of the guys. I had never once thought of myself as a girl. Now I knew my friends, even though they knew about me, had always considered me one of the guys as well. They had never once thought of me as a girl either.

Because I never really was one.

A very special thanks to Azy for his time and hard work editing this story for me.