Spoiler alert, I still don’t know.
It was a pretty typical childhood for me: playing with neighbors, running around the neighborhood and eventually growing out of it, as one usually does. I hope.
My sibling and I grew up with divorced parents from a young age, so we were used to moving between houses several times a week.
Believe it or not: I had long hair on and off throughout my childhood, even though I always hated the feeling of it. I had just gone with it for a long time because I thought it was how I was supposed to be presenting myself.
It was the same with clothing too. I remember vividly in high school that I wore specifically bootcut jeans and unisex t-shirts most of the time through about sophomore year.
Growing up, I hung out with the “misfits” or “outcasts,” even as I felt as though I didn’t really belong with them either. It was kind of a lonely experience, but they were all very kind and friendly when I spent time with them.
I used a lot of my free time hiding in video games such as Minecraft, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Halo and more. I found other worlds to be a safe haven for when I wasn’t feeling myself, and I still do that to this day when I need to be grounded.
When I was a freshman in high school, I remember being in gym class when I had the first thought that I possibly could like girls. We would oftentimes work out in partners, and one girl kept choosing me to be hers.
Being the quiet one, I was stoked. However, all she did was talk to me about her boy crush. Yeah, it kind of hurt. I think she just chose me because I was quiet and wouldn’t tell anyone about what she was going through. But I digress.
One night at home, I was brushing my teeth and reflecting what had been happening in phy ed. I remember looking into the mirror with the toothbrush in my mouth, wording, “am I gay?”
But since this girl had another interest, I obviously didn’t pursue it. That being said, I kind of shoved those thoughts under the rug until about junior year. Then, I wanted to make a big change.
In about second grade, I had gotten a pixie cut to copy my older sibling. But I thought about doing it again with my more-than-shoulder-length hair.
All at about the same time, I ended up cutting my hair and changing my entire wardrobe to what I was most comfortable with: that happened to be tight sports bras, men’s jeans and baggy shirts.
I wanted my female figure to be as unnoticeable as possible, and I think it worked.
In about August 2016, I identified as pansexual but thought I had more of an attraction to women. So I jumped the gun and came out to my parents with that.
I told my dad one day that month while we were outside, and he gave the stereotypical “I love you no matter what” speech.
When I got back to my mom’s the same day, I pulled out a pan and made a joke with it. She asked me if it was an exaggerated term for being bisexual, and I had to explain it to her.
Though they were both quite accepting, we didn’t talk much about it after the fact.
One time in history class in high school, I outright told someone that I didn’t like being called a girl either. He then asked me if I preferred “he” or “it” instead, to which I answered no to as well.
“Well, what are you then?”
I was mostly out when my junior year started, and everyone began to notice. I started gaining a little bit of popularity, though not entirely getting to the “prep” status (as if I ever wanted to get to that point, let’s be honest here).
It was noticeable that I was a lot happier in my own skin the way it was with my new clothes and hair, and not just to me.
At the end of my junior year, it was decided among my parents and I that I should get a car and a job. So that’s exactly what I did. I got a job bagging groceries at the town next door to mine at a grocery store attached to a gas station.
I won’t even get started on the lime green polos we had to wear.
But the town that the store was in was popular among Illinois tourists, and we would get a lot of customers not familiar with the area.
Whenever someone had a question and I was around, sometimes they would refer to me as “sir” then subsequently apologize after reading my name tag.
My coworkers and I actually found it funny, and we decided to make a game of it. I tallied how many times someone misgendered me in a shift, and the highest number I got was 11 over the 2016 Fourth of July weekend.
One time too, I had a sweet old lady try to ask me if I was “one of those people,” or transgender. I politely told her that I was not and that I was just comfortable with short hair. She didn’t seem to want to take that as an answer, but she just walked out with her lottery ticket.
Another time, I had an older man tell me to my face that I looked like a boy and sounded like a girl. I had a fun time telling my coworkers about that one because I didn’t know how to respond to him.
Right before I began college in fall 2017, I started my four-shift tenure at the grocery store in my hometown to save gas money. Something I will never forget happened to me, and it wasn’t someone misgendering me that I also found funny.
One man came up with a cart of groceries with his wife, and proceeded to laugh at me and say that my name couldn’t be Kaitlyn. I didn’t know how to respond other than along the lines of, “I don’t know what to tell you, that’s my name.”
I’m pretty sure when I was counting my drawer after closing, I shed a few tears. I’m usually pretty controlled in those circumstances, but that time it just hit the chords a little differently.
But a month later in college, I found another job selling food to customers. I couldn’t stay away. What can I say? Working grocery ran in the family.
It was nice to be around a group of peers who didn’t misgender me as much as those other two places.
I don’t think I can really pinpoint a time that I actively called myself gay. I suppose it just kind of happened when I realized I had no attraction to anyone other than women.
And you’ve probably noticed the little “They” at the top there, didn’t you? I’m sure you’re wondering about that.
I’ve toyed around with different labels for my gender identity, but nothing really works with me. I think I’ll just stick with identifying as [redacted] and you can deal with it. I’m really not offended by being referred to with any set of pronouns; it depends on the day.
I can say that I’m happy with my body and where I am despite feeling dysphoric at times.
I couldn’t ask for a better way to get to where I am, and I’m thankful for every minute, every bump and every rumble along the way.
The goal of this blog is to provide a voice behind the label, and who would I be if I didn’t share more than a few paragraphs of my own? Well, here you go. Email me if you ever have any questions, concerns or just need someone to talk to. You are safe, you are heard and you are loved.