Excerpt From My Book: A Creative Non-Fiction Portrait Essay ~ I am a man trapped in a woman’s body   Leave a comment


I am a man trapped in a woman’s body

This transition is precisely the transition of rebirth from non-existing to existing. Johnannes Climacus~

The main character feels her way out of the darkness of the non-existent and into the light of the existing.

My ex-husband, Charles, is born a biological female named Charlee, a boy’s name. The name is carried down for generations in this small town of Shawnee, Oklahoma. There are Charlie seniors and juniors throughout the large extended family. Eighteen young boys and old men carry this name with pride.

“Why do they call me this, it’s for a boy?” she thought.

Fate begins to lay the foundation of her life before her first breath. Her destiny begins as a girl.

She remembers differences between herself and the other little girls growing up. Little girls, who want to play with dolls, dress up, hate to get dirty and love to play house in their own sweet way.

“No, I don’t want to play house, let’s play cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers or go climb that big ole tree by that fence,” she whines as the little girls give her a look of apprehension. She picks up a stick, holds it like a riffle and says, “Bang, bang.”

“Isn’t there a poem that goes something like that?” she asks.

What are little boys made of?

Snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails

That’s what little boys are made of!

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice and all things nice

That’s what little girls are made of!

This young girl is a tomboy, always dirty and always plays with boy toys, trucks and GI Joes. Charlee fights with her mom because she wants to dress like a boy and will not comply with her wishes.

“I won’t wear that yucky dress, you can’t make me!” she screams while lying on the floor kicking her legs frantically. Tears stream down to her pouty petite lips as she tastes her own bitter salt.

What she wanted most she could not have.

“I want my mother to treat me like a boy” she sadly whispers.

At the age of three years old, she tries to urinate as a boy’s normal function, but is instantly perplexed because she does not perform as other male children.

She recalls at age four being in a brightly lit mirrored bathroom with her father on an early, lazy Sunday. He is tall and brawny with a soft blonde strokeable beard. He is only wearing a towel. The sun is beaming through a small window and glides across the porcelain sink creating abstract shapes that reminded her of clouds that hover effortlessly in the blue sky.

She asks, “Daddy, what can’t I pee like my friends?”

He laughs and pats her on the head.

“Because you’re a girl, girls sit down when they go potty,” he says.

“I don’t understand why I’m different,” she whimpered.

She didn’t like it, but accepted it. At that age, what choice did she have? Is Charlee a girl in turmoil over an inner boy?

A child is created in the womb by a single cell and through time becomes altered miraculously into an independent organism by contributions of hormones and chromosomes. The development is identical for both male and female up until three months of pregnancy. But, what happened in the embryo stage for Charlee? Once in the developmental stage, the “Y” chromosome increased in her genetic makeup. All of those occurrences take place before her first cry, first smile, first word, the fundamental core of who she is imbedded in her mind and body.

She is eleven and her world changes forever as she remembers the female gender side taking a back seat while the male takes control. Charlee hates who she is because her brain tells her she is a boy and the world sees her as a girl.

“My mind is filled with a bunch of battles that are mirrored in my blue eyes turning them gray” she says as one tear gently rolls down her cheek.

Mother Nature hits hard as the red river of life rushes furiously out of her small frame. She awakened one morning in a pool of blood, the sheets are saturated and the fumes of a gross smell linger above her.

“Mom, make it go away,” she sobs quietly because Charlee didn’t want to grow up to be female.  “Once puberty hit, I thought this is it, no more” she says.

Her breasts begin to grow, too. One day she is as flat chested as her vintage children’s desktop that sits in the living room next to a bay window. And then the next day she finds raised bumps that mock her.

“But mom, I don’t want these” she shrieks uncontrollably.

“Honey, you’re a woman now and all women have breasts,” her mom consoles her as she brushes her long flaming red hair.

“Let’s talk about the new blouse and skirt I bought you today.” Her mother tries to change the subject.

“All I want is to wear jeans and a t-shirt. I hate my long hair,” she thought as she imagined a giant pair of scissors creeping into her room while she slept and in one foul swoop chops off every single hair. Her mind wonders off in her own little world as she pondered, “That would be so cool.”

Charlee is twelve and her voice begins to sound like a sick moose that squeaks. It goes from extremely high pitched cracks to a deep baritone just like a male child. At seventeen Charlee begins to start shaving her face as a daily man’s routine.

“I am doing what comes naturally following my innate characteristics,” she explains.

While Charlee dreams about her sexuality one thing is clear, she is not fond of boys for dating purposes. She is attracted to girls. One day she tries to find a word in the dictionary that describes her emotions.

“I went through the encyclopedia searching for a word that fit how I felt because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. At that point and time all I could find in the dictionaries and encyclopedia’s was homosexual. I knew I liked girls and so I stuck with that” she says.

Then declares, “I self-identified myself and accepted my feelings and mannerisms as being a lesbian and wanted to tell people.”

The strong desire to communicate this newly found realization with her parents is more than she can handle. She struggles to find the right answer, to find the right words.

“I told mom my new label and I guess it turned into a mistake. I am asked to leave and never come back,” her voice cracks as she stares blankly at the brown and white stripped carpet below her feet.

These words will ring forever in Charlee’s mind, “If you ever step one foot in my house I’ll pull out the shot gun and shoot you for trespassing. Get the hell out of here!” The vibrations of her voice seemed to rock the ceiling.

The house is no longer a home as her mother shoots looks that can kill. It is a war zone. Bombs are going off in every direction, then a direct hit. Charlee did not realize she was in the line of fire. Tension permeates the air as she walks into her bedroom and packs all of her belongings.

“I guess I wanted guidance and support and instead, got the boot.” she says with a distressful tone.

She immediately moves into her grandmother’s house, Miss Maggie, a woman who stood five foot, graying short hair with a heart of Mother Theresa. She is the only one who gives Charlee unconditional love at the time when she needed it most.

Once becoming comfortable in her new environment Charlee explains, “I chopped all of my hair off and from that point forward let it grow maybe to my shoulder. My mom had always hated it. It’s been hard but, it’s me.”

She is now dressing more masculine in jeans and polo shirts just like other juvenile boys. She feels comfortable with herself, but there is still something missing. Charlee questions life.

“There must be more to life, isn’t there?”

It is a slow process for her to realize that wearing boy’s clothing is not enough. She is still not comfortable in her own skin. Her mind did not match her gender, her biological sex. She is born with the wrong body parts. Her gender identity is questioned. Somehow there had been a mix up in the genetically determined gender of this child.

Charlee hates her life, her body and feels nonexistent. As an adult she recognizes what needs to be done.

“I am a man trapped in a woman’s body” she confesses.

Her dreams are of the perfect masculine physique because she knows deep down she was born in the wrong body. Her dreams are of being with a woman, as a legal man. The downside is her family and their reactions. It is her mom in particular that she feared most. She rewrote the history of her life as these visions led to two surgeries, top and bottom plus the need for testosterone shots. Charlee begins to transition at the age of thirty into a proud man named, Charles.

She enters the hospital for two separate surgeries. The first is for a hysterectomy on March 12, 2007 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Two weeks later, a hate crime occurs. It’s Easter, a family get together. The holiday tables are full of colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and pastel baskets. She entered the festivities about an hour before it happened. Her mother and sister beat her physical body in front of the entire family.

“You’re killing my daughter” her mother shouts as she pounds Charlee’s limp body that lays on the ground mixed with gravel and miniscule pieces of glass, while her daughter’s blood covers her hands.

Twenty minutes later, it is all over, Charlee’s body resembles a mangled animal just hit by a car lying alone on the side of the rode at midnight. They try to crush her spirit consequently, blood is split and bones are broken. The family is ripped to shreds as she files police charges against her mother and sister. Charlee’s aunt, Paula, who is a short, skinny woman with jet black hair happens to be very powerful in the community. Not only is she an attorney, a General in the United States Army, but she is the Commissioner of the city, Shawnee. She carries an air of a rattlesnake, ready to pounce and kill her prey at any time, at any cost. Paula uses her influence to destroy all the hospital and police reports regarding the incident. We believe she squashes them as soon as they hit the DA’s office. Why would she do such a horrible thing? To protect her family.

In Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Charlee gets her second surgery called, top surgery to remove her breasts. The big day came on April 7, 2007. After driver license changes from F to M, birth certificate changes with a new gender and name, she is now a he and is considered a transman.

He remembers the first time he spoke to his mother on the phone once he completed the transition and she describes “her” first room.

“The nursery we made you has walls of a pale yellow, fluffy pastel animals, a giant sun and a rainbow that went around the room, filled with pink blankets, miniature stuffed animals and filled with little girl clothing. “Perfect for our tiny miracle,” my mother cooed.

“Now, my baby girl is dead,” she snarls.

For the rest of his life Charles will administer weekly testosterone shots into his body. He passes 100% within our society. He looks like the average guy who walks down the street.  He finally feels comfortable in his own skin as a man and has found his inner peace. It is only now that the inner child, the young boy is free.

Life means living to the fullest of one’s ability, no matter what the costs, isn’t that right?

Works Cited

What are Little Boys made of ?. 29 Oct. 2011.             http://www.rhymes.org.uk/what_are_little_boys_made_of.htm

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