I was my grandmother’s second grandchild, born 11 years after her first. When I was born, she held me and said, “Oh, this one’s different.”
Little did she know how right she would turn out to be. When I was young, I was different in a lot of ways that the people around me saw as positive: I was smart, funny, and easy to get along with. And although I sometimes struggled in school, when I was interested in something — like birds or dinosaurs — I learned everything there was to know about it quickly.
As I got older, I began to be different in ways that weren’t seen so positively. By the time I was in middle school, other kids were starting first to tease, and then to bully me. They would ask me whether I was a boy or a girl, and spread rumors that I was gay. The bullying would have been bad enough if the rumors were false. From my perspective, they were worse because they were true. Although I didn’t have the words I use today to describe my experiences at the time, I knew I was different. I was queer and transgender. My grandmother’s love for me was always unconditional, but I felt pressure from other adults in my life to change who I was in order to meet their expectations for me.