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Not a Real Girl

I have never felt like a real girl. I grew up in a family with three daughters, no sons, only girls. I was always the ‘boy’ in the family. I spent most of my time out in the woods, climbing trees, making bows and arrows out of sticks, carving wood with a knife my dad had lent me, eagerly searching for Robin Hood to join his gang and yeah… I didn’t feel like a girl. I am not saying that girls cannot do any of these things, or that they don’t, but the point is that I felt like a boy. In every aspect. I never played with Barbie dolls – I played with Playmobil. I didn’t like any of the movies that my sisters liked and I never managed to find one single female movie character that I sympathised with. I loved Atreyu from The Neverending StoryJay from that old TV series The Odyssey (pretty sure no one remembers that or even saw it) and pretty much anything and everything that had adventures in it. The only girl character that I liked, now that I think of it, was George from The Famous Five. She was a bit like me. In every game I played with my friends I was always a boy and I would have rather died than to have put on a dress or a skirt. My parents let me wear ‘boy clothes’ all the way through Middle School and nobody ever gave me a hard time for being more like a boy than a girl. It was just the way that I was.

After that I started to fit in more with the girls, but I felt almost as if I was wearing a mask. I suppose I looked like a girl on the outside, even though I never developed an interest for make-up nor for clothes. I started shopping for clothes in the girl’s section, however, but I stuck to the least girly things that I could find. I did sometimes think about wearing make-up, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to it. I thought people would see how out of place it would look on me, that it would seem like I was trying too hard, and as if I was trying to be something that I wasn’t. A girl.

I wore a dress to my High School prom, even though I suspect everyone expected me to go in jeans. I couldn’t bring myself to wearing girly shoes though, so I wore my dirty old Converse with that dress. It didn’t look as bad as it sounds, but I still remember how that dress made me feel more like a boy than I had ever felt before. I was in a costume. All the other girls looked so pretty with their make-up, their hair (that they had spent hours and tons of money on), their long dresses and their high-heels. A part of me wished that I could have looked like them. For perhaps the first time in my life – I find myself wishing that I had been more like a “real” girl. Instead I stood there on the dance-floor, feeling like a boy, while wearing a dress for everyone to see.

After High School I moved away. I started wearing make-up (read; mascara and eye-liner) and clothes slightly more fitted. Nobody knew me there and nobody would ever know that I wasn’t the girl I appeared to be. I became more comfortable being a girl after that and I think I must have accepted myself the way that I was somewhere around that time. I still got comments about my “boyish” way of dressing, even though according to myself I was dressing more girly than I had ever done before. I suppose I found a balance between the boy that I felt like on the inside and the girl that I was on the outside.

I am fine with being a girl today. I have a few dresses in my wardrobe, I wear heels every once in a while and I no longer think of myself as being a boy trapped in a girl’s body. I still find it dificult to socialize with large groups of girls though and I always feel as if though I don’t fit in. I have no interest in discussing the kinds of things they discuss, no knowledge about their interests and I tend to feel very alienated when surrounded by girls and women. I don’t fit in there. Being invited to “girl’s night” is my biggest nightmare and it still, even though you can’t really see it, makes me feel like an impostor. I don’t belong. Most of my friends are male and the few female friends that I have are a bit more like me. “Not real girls.” I sometimes make jokes that I was supposed to be born a man, but that something went wrong and I came out as a women. People tend to laugh a bit awkwardly when I make that joke. They don’t really know what to make of it, I suppose.

Perhaps this is why everyone (and I mean everyone) thinks that I am gay. I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked if I am, or how many times I have found out that people have question whether or not I am. There are so many stereotypes out there, which makes people think that if you are not very feminine – you must be gay. And if you are gay – you are not very feminine. Both stereotypes are a bit weird to me, but well. I don’t mind that everyone thinks I am gay (I actually find it quite amusing), but I am not. Trust me when I say that I have searched the deepest corners of my soul to try and see if perhaps there is a tiny chance that I am, but no. No matter how I twist and turn it – I am not gay. About 90% of my friends are gay, however, so I would have been the first to accept it if I was. I wish that I was, in many ways. It would have made more sense to everyone. Perhaps the little man that I carry around inside is gay? Perhaps I am a gay man on the inside? That would explain why I have always felt like a boy, why I identify so much with the gay community but why I still find myself attracted to men and not to women.

Lots of things about me don’t make sense, but I have come to terms with that. I am quite okay with not really making sense. I am genuinly thankful to my parents for letting me be who I was when growing up. My mom never complained about her first-born daughter not wanting to wear the dresses she had saved for her and she never complained when I cut my long hair short at the age of 11. I could see it in her eyes that time that she wished I would have kept my long hair, but she never said anything. She even let me cut it again once it grew out, because that was what I wanted. She just wanted me to be happy. There are lots of kids out there that don’t really fit into the stereotypes that society thinks that they “should” fit into, but that’s okay. I hope more parents out there let their kids be who they are. Don’t try to change them unless they are hurting themselves or anyone else. I got to be who I was (with the awful haircut and the oversized clothes and everything) and I turned out okay. I turned out okay because it was okay. I knew I was different, and even though I often wished that I wasn’t (because it would have been easier), I was also never picked on for it and nobody ever tried to change me. Everybody deserves a chance to be themselves and to discover who they are without interference. I was lucky that way. I got to be me.


  • Really great article. I feel so strongly about this sort of thing. A close relation of mine is gay but their own mother can’t accept it. I can understand it must be a hard thing to go through but you have to come to terms with it eventually. Bravo for you being comfortable in your own skin! :) x

    • Janni Ke Janni Ke says:

      Thank you Rebecca!! That is so nice of you. It really breaks my heart that there are so many stereotypes out there, and that so many people are tricked into thinking that they are not okay the way that they are. That there is something wrong with them. I just really hate how people feel the need to “lable” others as well. I was truly lucky and never had anyone complaining about my style or making fun of me, but unfortunately not everyone is that lucky.

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