Who is a Woman if not in a Dress?

By Elena Tamagno, TIWP Student

I’m not a girl. There’s no way I can be a girl, right? I don’t like skirts, or dresses, or those pink-colored bedsheets. I cut off all my hair and half the people I ran into thought I was a boy or just refused to use gendered terms near me. I’m not trans, or at least I don’t think I am. But people don’t treat me like a girl.

It was crazy how that one simple act—dressing how I normally do and cutting my hair a little bit short—changed everything. It’s not like I minded being called ‘sir’ or getting weird looks in the woman’s restroom for that little bit of freedom. People barely held doors open for me and it felt like interacting with guys became more free and normal instead of getting judged for everything I did around them, like my quest for friends was supposedly something more. It’s not that I enjoyed being a boy more, but I enjoyed the privileges.

I think this period of being perceived as a boy is what changed my perception of my gender, just last year. When I was younger I just happened to be a girl. My best friend was a boy and I wore Spiderman shoes underneath my princess dress. I liked who I was. I didn’t have to be pink and frilly unless we had to go to a Christmas party. When I got older and I exchanged my light-up Spiderman shoes for Converse and my princess dress for my dad’s sweater and some jeans, I felt out of place. People at school looked at me like I was wrong or weird and just didn’t fit in their leggings and Brandy Melville tank top uniform. There’s nothing wrong with what they wore, it looked great on them and it was cute. It just wasn’t me.

Back to gender. It was crazy to me how many people who were similar to me, that didn’t fit in that style, ended up genuinely being boys. I can name three people in my 70-person class who came out as trans in 7th grade. I now know I wasn’t one but I thought for a year that maybe it was me. Maybe that’s why I didn’t feel like a girl. I’m not trying to be one of those quirky, different “I’m not like other girls” girls, and I know I’m not the only one in the history of existence to feel the way I do. I just want you to know that I’m still a girl. 

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