Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Boy in a Skirt

When I was a kid, a boy came to school on Halloween dressed in a skirt and a teacher had a fit. He was a nice kid, really quiet and a bit marginalized and she humiliated him as she made it clear that she would not tolerate boys dressed as girls. What I learned from that was that even playing at gender transgression (male to female anyhow) was apparently very upsetting to some people and that made me think hard about my value as a girl. If he had debased himself by looking like me...well then what did that mean for me?

It was also, I think, a beginning for a kind of core belief that to humiliate anyone regarding their gendered behaviors is inhumane. I think because he was the kind of boy who I would have characterized as gentle and even feminine, one of the few boys who didn't frighten me or mock me, I felt anger at his treatment than I would have otherwise. For some reason when *he* dressed in a skirt, I didn't feel like he was making fun of me. There was sensitivity in it somehow and I think that's why he made the teacher so angry. If he had been a jock, I really doubt the teacher would have come down hard on him like that. She probably would have thought it funny. But he wasn't *that* kind of boy. I sensed that for some reason, he was the kind of boy who could not be allowed to cross-dress because the idea of it wasn't absurd enough to be funny to the other jocks and that made it *dangerous*.

I was really angry that day with that teacher. Really angry. And I find, oddly enough, that I'm still angry about it today. Or sad. Yes. I guess the right word is "sad"- for him, for me, and for the teacher too. Just an old childhood memory. Funny how they haunt us.