Halloween, A Day I Could Be Myself

dorothy-2009
Dorothy 2009. Only 40 years between Halloweens.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side? Rainbows are vision, but only illusions, and rainbows have nothing to hide. So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it. I know they’re wrong wait and see. Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection. The lovers, dreamers, and me.                    Rainbow Connection      written by Paul Williams  and Kenneth Ascher

Halloween Memories For A Transgender Woman
by Tuesday Meadows
(This is a updated version of my blog post from 2015)
I recently  heard someone on television trying to be funny when he said, “Halloween is that one magical day of the year when little girls like to dress up like princesses and little boys like to dress up like little girls.” I am sure he had no idea how true that was for me. Not long after hearing that smart aleck remark I began to reminisce about my own Halloween experiences. This is my Halloween memory.
I started dreaming of living my life as girl sometime around the age of 5. At that young age I didn’t know what it meant but what I did know was that inside I was a girl.  I loved looking at girls clothes, shoes, toys, but I also knew I had better keep all of that to myself. When I dreamed at night I was a girl. Going to the store with my mom and my sisters, I remember “accidentally”  touching a toy that was meant for “only girls.” I was embarrassed and prayed that nobody saw me because by then I had been taught that I better hide my girl self or bad things would happen to me. By age 8 or 9, I finally got brave enough to venture into my mom’s closet. As soon as I spent several painful minutes listening for the sounds of discovery, I slipped into a pair of her red high heels. I remember thinking back then, “I would love own a pair of shoes like these and to wear them out someday.” That would actually come to being many years later. Maybe that’s why I own so many pairs of shoes.
Like many transgender kids in my days, I fought a terrible internal battle for most of my pre-adolescence all the way through to my young adulthood. I got very good at hiding my femininity (that closet that I ventured into was as real as it was metaphorical), and, as far as I know, no one ever suspected a thing outside of just a couple of people. I never escaped my longings, but I learned how to push the feelings down deeper and deeper. The fear that my secret would be discovered, that I would be humiliated, punished, or hurt, pervaded in my everyday life.
But there was one magical day of the year, Halloween, that I dreamed I could be free of that fear. In my pre-puberty mind I  played it over and over again how I could approach the subject with my mom.  I would be sitting at the kitchen table with just her and I would casually say, “Hey mom you know it’s Halloween and all and I am getting to big for kids costumes and all…so  wouldn’t it be funny if I went out trick-or-treating dressed as a girl this year, nothing fancy just a skirt and a sweater ?” I had this vivid idea of how it might go. My mom would think it was a good idea because she wouldn’t have to buy me a costume since I could just wear some of my older sisters clothes. My older sister would put makeup on me because, after all, I wouldn’t be able to wear a mask. I would look just like any other girl, and if anyone said anything I would just laugh and say it’s Halloween nothing more.  People would then say to me, “you really made a such a pretty girl on Halloween you should do it more often.” The next thing you know, someone would suggest that I should grow out my hair because I looked great in that wig on Halloween, and next thing you know I would get to be a girl all of the time. In just a few years my family would think that maybe I should have been a girl from the start and then soon everyone would even forget that they ever knew be as a boy. Sadly, none of that ever happened.
By age 15, I knew that on the inside I was a girl. I think I had no doubt about my gender. I wanted to be a girl on the outside as well more than ever, but I still fought the urge to tell anyone. I had never heard of anyone changing genders, and anytime someone appeared to be different, my friends used vile and hateful descriptions. Yes, you know the words they used and I don’t have to repeat them. Never the less, that Halloween was the first time that I got brave enough to experiment. I put on one of my mom’s bras (stuffed with water balloons for good measure) and a brown sweater and skirt that my older sister had left when she moved out. A friend’s sister loaned me a wig and some make up. Despite my bravery, I soon learned that 16 year old boys can be really mean when they think that someone might be a little different than the norm. To be honest it felt pretty dangerous for me to be out trying to be my true-self. When a couple of my friends said something about what I was doing I quickly laughed it off, to keep from getting my butt kicked, but it  was a moment that probably locked me in that closet for 40 more years. One of them ask me if I was a homo(or a more derogatory term.) After that  I had to do something crazy to prove my manhood, and I am sure I did something dangerous, whatever that might have been at the time.
Despite my first Halloween foray out in public ending painfully, which like I said caused me to push down my feelings even further and become even more guarded, the most important thing that happened that night  was when I got home.  I told my mom all about me going out for Halloween that night in girl clothes- then I told her my struggle, my fears, my hopes, and, ultimately, my disappointment. My mom didn’t know what to say but she listened and never past judgement, both important to me at that critical time. To this day, I can never say how grateful I was for her understanding, which allowed me to talk with those who I cared about, including my future wife before we were married. I believe that  Halloween long ago probably ended up saving my life.
So to some, Halloween may be a throwaway holiday, or like the man on television thought, a joke. But, remember that Halloween may not be important to some but to me it will always be special. It allows some of us the opportunity to get just a little bit closer to who we really are, and for that I will forever love Halloween.
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