I had my first interaction with a trans person when I was around the age of ten.
This memory came to me recently and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I had forgotten about this person until I started reflecting on my own gender identity.
I was at my friend’s birthday sleepover. One of the kids there was my friend’s cousin, whom we had never met before. This child was introduced to us by their birth name, but when we were all together without parents around, they insisted we call them ‘Steve.’ Steve had been assigned female at birth and we used she/her pronouns with them at the time. We didn’t know any better. None of us had ever heard of trans or gender-nonconforming people before.
Steve was wearing cargo shorts and an oversized t-shirt.
We played jailbreak in my friend’s backyard at night in the dark. A strange man in a yellow shirt watched us from the cornfield behind the yard. One of the kids told a parent that there was a man watching us. We went inside and my friend’s parents locked the doors.
Inside, we played Cranium Cadoo and watched a movie we were too young to watch. Steve, being the newbie in the group, was the target of most of our never-ending questions.
Steve told us they had epilepsy.
Steve told us they wanted to cut their breasts off. We all giggled at the idea, but I knew what they meant because, well. I felt the same way.
Steve told us they wished they were a boy. We laughed and imagined how we’d be different if we had been born boys.
I thought Steve was the coolest person I had ever met, and none of us thought anything of calling this assigned-female-at-birth person Steve.
I don’t remember most of this night, but I will always remember Steve, though I haven’t had any interaction with them since that night. I’ve thought about reaching out to that old friend to ask her about her cousin. I wonder about them, how they identify these days, if they got that chest surgery, how they’re doing. I want to go back in time and tell them that they’re not alone.
They knew exactly who they were at ten. It took me twenty-six years.
Listen to trans kids. Respect trans kids. Protect trans kids.