My stories of being a tomboy aren’t anything like the ones you have on here. I don’t ever recall being called nasty things for it, and I’ve been that way my whole life pretty much, for as long as I can remember. I love trucks and tractors and dinosaurs. The only bad thing about it, is that my mom says that I’m gay because things like trucks and hockey, and the things my grandparents let me do, and the things she let me enjoy. My mom says I wasn’t born this way, I was made this way by other people, and all the bad things people have done to me. I was born this way and I know it.
I was a very girly girl when I was little, but I also thought I was stronger than all of the the boys and thought it was stupid that they were the ones who were allowed to do the “heavy lifting” and sports. I remember one time I had a boy friend over and trying to prove to him that I was stronger and that just because I was a girl, I could do the same things that he could do. We had a contest to see who could throw a brick the farthest. I’m pretty sure I won.
When I was a eight, I wanted to be an indian and didn’t want to wear shirts. I walked around without a shirt.
Tomboy Story: Toilets
My standard outfit when I was young was navy shorts and t-shirts, no girly colours. I had short brown hair and always wore boys sneakers. When I was in school I hated using the bathroom because I was always worried that someone would comment that I shouldn’t be there. On occasion a teacher would tell me off for going into the girls bathroom, thinking I was a boy. Even now at nineteen I still get paranoid about using public bathrooms, I still get funny looks and snide comments.
This is going to be a 3 part entry. The first part being my experience, the second part being my daughter’s experience, the third part being my daughter & I’s experience together.
Part 1: Me
I was always a quiet child for the most part. I would rather read & keep to myself than attend social functions or “hang out”. I never really “fit in”. I didn’t like barbies, but favored Legos & Transformers instead. No one told me this was strange. It was what it was. But as I got older & further into school the other students let me know how “wrong” I was.In second grade I was a loner. Most of the girls were into makeup, fairy princesses & dreaming about their wedding day where as I loved to play in the dirt, collect bugs & read books about science. I didn’t wear dresses, or worry about my hair. To this day I’ve never had my hair in a french braid. I was ignored by the other students for the most part, until one day.. I was collecting my things to change classes when I was approached by two boys who told me to “Hurry up, bitch”. They proceeded to berate me with insults about how I looked like a boy, they asked me if I had a “dick” & then one of them shoved me. I stood up & said “You can’t do that”, then one of the boys (we’ll call him “T”) cocked back his fist. This boy, T, just the year before gave me my first kiss on the cheek. Now, he released his fist & punched me in the side of the head. Only a few inches where he kissed me the year before. I don’t recall anything after that. The rest of this was filled in from other students & the teacher. I hit the ground & laid there for a moment as the teacher ran out of the room to get another teacher, who came into the room & left to get another teacher & so on & so on until the principal was finally brought to the room.
I soon stood up just to be kicked down by another boy “S” with a blow to the back of my knee. I hit my face on the floor. Another boy “E”, rolled me over, straddled me & proceeded to slam my head into the floor. The last of this another boy “A” lifted my head up by my hair & tried to cut one of my eyes open with a pair of scissors, luckily he missed my eye, but instead cut me right below it. He let my head fall to the floor with a crack as the principal walked in. My 7 year old body lay bruised & bloodied on the floor, 4 boys standing near, I was finally picked up & brought to the nurses office where I was given ice for my black eye, bruised face, & the back of my head & a bandaid for my eye. I was then sent back to class. When I got home from school my mom freaked out. She immediately brought me to the hospital where I was diagnosed with a concussion. The school sent home a suspension with me, for fighting. My mom sued the boys’ parents for the cost of the medical bills. We had to have a counselling session with the boys who when told that they weren’t allowed to hit girls said “She don’t look like no girl”. As the ridicule & beatings continued through 5th grade I would often try to break my fingers so I wouldn’t have to go to school.
This stopped when I reached 6th grade & began to wear makeup & act like the other girls, in 7th grade I had a perm, my nails were acrylic & pink, my clothes were tight. I was a typical girl. That summer I discovered grunge, metal & rock music. I started wearing guys’ wide leg pants, a chain wallet & black band shirts & the hell started all over again. Girls called me a “lesbo” & shunned me to get dressed in the bathroom of the locker room, the boys called me a “freak” as well as “lesbo” & “fag”. They would repeatedly pullout their penises when they would catch me alone & threatened to turn me straight. Even thought I was not a lesbian, it didn’t matter, I wore the costume of the boys, & therefore an object of ridicule. When I would complain to the administration about the harassment they told me that I “brought it upon myself for dressing likethat“. My mom just told me to ignore it, that the girls were just jealous of me, & the boys secretly liked me. The physical & mental abuse were just too much for me. I was no longer able to go outside my house. The anxiety attacks consumed my life. I spent most of the school year & summer laying in bed, unable to move unless the numbers on the digital clock were divisible by 2 or 5 or ended in :00. I developed an eating disorder & at 14 weighed under 100lbs.
Part 2: Acadia
Acadia is an amazing child. She is smart, funny & easy to get along with. She cares deeply for others & will stand up for people. Once we were shopping for a present for my cousins daughter who likes princesses. This little boy, about 5 or 6, came by, picked up a princess wand & started to play with it. His mom saw this & begin to taunt him “What? You a little girl now, huh? You a princess, boy?” & laughed at him. Acadia became enraged. She yelled at his mom “Who cares what he likes? It’s just toys! It’s not that big of a deal!”. The mom looked at her, then at me, then shot me a look that said “shut that child up”. I was so proud. My daughter understood more about life than most adults. We picked out something & left the store. Acadia loves dinosaurs, birds, bugs, Marvel superheroes, video games, comic books & reading. She watches documentaries about undersea life, outer space, time travel, & paleontology. She isn’t ashamed for who she is. To her, there isn’t a division between boys & girls except that girls can have babies & breast feed, but we are all basically the same.
This school year, Acadia entered 1st grade. At 7, she is the oldest since her birthday falls after the cutoff date. Everything is school was going fine, until January when she started acting up in class. She got F’s almost everyday in a month for her behavior & would tell us she hated school & never wanted to go back. This February the truth finally came out, three boys in her class were punching her & teasing her. She was too smart, she liked “boy” things” & “didn’t look like a girl”. Every other Friday they have a “Dress down” day where they can wear regular clothes instead of their uniform. The night before Acadia picked a plain brown shirt over her new Marvel Heroes shirt. Her reason for the choice was that she knew they would make fun of her. Come the next morning she decided that she would wear her Marvel shirt because she loved it so much. They told her she was wearing a “boys’ shirt”, asked her if she was a boy, & teased her relentlessly about it. I remembered the terror, the pain, the sadness that I experienced at her age. I told her to stay strong, use her words & when they hit her, defend herself. I constantly told her that what they were doing was wrong & we would stop it. Before we could even have a conference with her teacher she was ganged up by 2 of the boys, one pushed her into the other who then pushed her to the floor so the other boy could kick her in the back of the head. One boy was suspended, but the other boys continued to harass her. We called the cops who said they couldn’t do anything about it because they were too young. As soon as that boy came back to school he started hitting her again. One of the other boys pushed a desk into her face, & she was suspended for “throwing a fit” afterwards. She was recently suspended last week because the principal witnessed her slapping another student, what they didn’t see was this boy hit her first. She has begun to question her likes & her style because she feels like she needs to fit herself into this “girl” mold. We have decided to home school her so she can be whoever she wants to be without being ridiculed or hurt. She is very excited for next school year, but even more excited for the upcoming Avengers movie.
Raising 2 girls without the guidelines of gender is both rewarding, & very taxing. Our friends think that it’s great that we focus on education, wise decision making, & being curious over beauty tips & what the girls “should” like. My family on the other hand have given us more than enough grief. I have been accused of raising Acadia to be a heathen & a lesbian on more than one occasion, & told that I should force her to like princesses & everything pink so she won’t be an outcast. They purposely buy her dresses, barbie dolls, Disney princess things & various little girl makeup items like nail polishes & lip glosses. Most of these end up in the donation bin for the local Goodwill because no one in this house in interested. They harass me to harass my child to conform so she won’t be harassed. If she was dressed like a “girl” all the time & talked only of “girl” topics we would never have an opposing opinion. We would have accolades & encouragement to put her in beauty pageants & to keep up the good work.
Outsiders vary in their opinions. I have been asked if Acadia is a girl or a boy with long hair, when I say “girl” they look at her like she is from space & look at me like they are mentally recalling the number for Child Protection Services, when they say she is a “pretty girl” she says “And I’m smart too” as if she knows that could get lost in the shuffle if people only focused on her looks. She was born pretty, she grew to be smart. Some people hear her talk about comic books & dinosaurs & tell me that I am doing a great job. We frequent our local comic book shop where Acadia spends hours digging through comics, toys & Magic: The Gathering cards (she wants my husband & I to teach her to play this week while she is out on spring break). The guys who work there say that all those boys who teased her are going to get older & wish to god they had a girl as cool as she is now.
<3 – Alicia
My first lunch detention was for having a wallet in my back pocket. The teacher said she was trying to help me. This interaction took up the first 5 minutes of my drama class. Sometimes, I wonder if this is why I hate theatre.
I suppose that as the creator of TomboyStories, I should first begin with mine. I was waiting for other people to submit theirs first so that I could post mine in amongst others so that it wouldn’t have special attention drawn to it, but it only seems fair that the first one be from me. Up until this point, my insecurities about my writing skills have been paralyzing, rendering me fully unproductive. But for now I only hope for the best.
My Tomboy Story.
I will never forget it. Of all of my experiences as a kid, this one still stands out as one of the ones that most shaped me. Like a lot of kids, I went to summer camp. Mine was a conservative, fundamentalist, Christian Bible camp, where I was placed into a cabin full of other girls from other Methodist churches all over the state. It was the summer after my 3rd grade year. I was 9 years old. I got dropped off, nervous and excited. I had come with another girl from my church who I knew, but had never been especially close with. Still, much to my disappointment she was assigned to another cabin. With my duffle bag full of gym shorts and t-shirts, one swim suit, soap, and my toothbrush- I entered. I was socially awkward and naturally introverted, but working hard I introduced myself to a group of girls. They were my age. They had all come from the same town, and were all obviously close friends. They stared at me for a minute. The first thing they noticed were my unshaved legs. As 9 year old, it was never something that I had thought of. I was different here. Here I got called a caveman and told that I was disgusting. Here, for the first time in my life, I got called gay.
At home I only had my older sister to compare myself to, and we were different in almost every other way, so I didn’t think anything of being different from her in the way I chose to present myself. Here the contrast between the other girls and I became glaringly obvious. I didn’t come with a small arsenal of drug store makeup, and a different pair of shoes for each day. I had 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner and dirty white and blue Nikes. I wasn’t like them. I was by no means the only tomboy there, but I was, for one reason or another, the one that they picked out to either convert or chastise unrelentingly for the entire week. Maybe it was just that I didn’t see the point in putting on makeup to go swimming in the lake, but regardless of the reasons, I wasn’t living up to what they thought I should be.
The only explanation for this was that I was either some mysterious and vile creature who’d emerged from the depths of south Louisiana… or gay (which here were essentially synonymous). At this particular summer camp, that was one of the worst insults, and having been deemed such I was promptly ostracized from any group, lest my tomboy ways rub off on them. I remember trying to climb onto a second level bunk bed where all the other girls were congregating. Upon reaching the top, I got pushed off and cracked my head open on thin carpet-covered concrete floor. I went to the bathroom and made an excuse to take a shower so that I could rinse my hair out. I didn’t tell anyone, and nobody asked. Ever. The whole week I kept to myself. I sat. I waited for it to be over. When I got home I told my mom about almost everything, leaving out the gory, and especially embarrassing parts. She bought me a razor, and told me that now I had no reason to feel insecure.
Tomboy stories ( tomboystories.org ) is a website my friend Emily created and runs. It’s her baby and is starting to get some real recognition. I thought there would be a big audience for it on tumblr, so here it is. If you have a tomboy story of your own don’t hesitate to submit it! you can do so on here by clicking the submit button up top or you can submit to Emily’s email firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is her about from her blog:
Tomboy Stories began after watching “Tomboy” the movie. I was writing a movie review, and was told that I should begin it with a story of my own. It took me forever to write about myself, and my own feelings, but in doing so I realized how relatable and personal the movie was for me. And it wasn’t just me. Writing my own story evolved into Tomboy Stories as a project. When I went to write my story, about one particular experience, I couldn’t immediately think of one. Being a tomboy was such a pervasive part of my childhood, that it was genuinely difficult for me to think of a moment groundbreaking enough to write about. Something remarkable enough that people would actually be interested in reading. It wasn’t until I realized that I didn’t have to write about some revolutionary moment- rather something that was honest and relatable- that I was able to fully write my story. I realized that Tomboy Stories is a way to share our common experiences. Whether it be about your experiences being a tomboy, or the impact that one has had on you. Tomboy Stories is a collection of personal narratives written by people of all ages, races, sexual orientations, and gender identities as well as being an open forum for relevant discussions. Everyone has a Tomboy Story. What’s yours?
To submit your story you can post it here or e-mail it to email@example.com