Dear 10-year-old self,
If I could go back in time and defend you against the adults pressuring you to be more feminine, I would. It’s a shame that they couldn’t see and appreciate that you were happy the way you were, even if it was just a phase. Even though you dressed like a boy, acted like a boy and wanted to be called “Mike” for a few years, you still stuck to what you believed despite the pressure from family to be more feminine. Family feared you were going to be gay, but you stuck to your guns. You knew who you were and what you wanted even if you were 10. That’s great. Most 10-year-old girls are worrying about going on diets and losing weight to fit into dresses. You never gave that a second thought.
If I could say anything to those adults, here is what i would say:
“Shame on you for taking your insecurities out on a child. All you could see was a girl trying to be a boy, thus tipping your value system on its head. In your system, girls need to stick to their roles and boys stick to their roles. This child comprehends the danger of gender roles and sees a harmful patriarchy that she fiercely resists. Love this about her. Nurture this attitude. No matter what you were raised to believe, no matter how old you are, you can always learn moral lessons from your children. This 10-year-old me is trying to teach you that gender does not define who we are. We can break societal barriers erected to keep us ‘in our places.’ ”
Little Me, I want you to go and tell that victim-blaming guidance counselor to go fuck himself. I want you to ignore the bullies and continue to be yourself. If you could talk to me now, I want you to know that there will be challenges in overcoming more bias along the way, but you learn to face it head on and write about it in a blog. You will have anxiety disorders and depression and write about it in a blog, too.
Every day, the system will try to keep us down, but you and I will fight it all the way.
I hope this reassures you rather than discourages you. I want this letter to give you strength to continue the fight against the patriarchy. You may not be this articulate at 10, but I hope my brainwaves reach you across time and give you strength.