Tag Archives: childhood

The Pink Panther and Me

20 May

I thought a good subject for my first blog post would be to explain the title of my blog. It’s also a good introduction to who I am so that people will know what they are getting into reading this blog.

I am a trans woman. I have been transitioning full time since January 1st 2011. I have been on hormones for 7 months as of this post. It took me a long time to come to the point of transitioning, a really really long time.  I know for many people a later tranisiton is because they arent sure, or the dysphoria is mild till they become an adult, or they have a spouse/children to consider. For me it was none of those things.  I have no spouse, I have no children, and my dyshoria has always been acute. I knew who I was and what I wanted to be from my earliest moments but something got in the way….something stopped me from becoming the person I need to be. It all started with a pink panther.

My very early memories as a child were mostly happy. I am smiling in all my pictures  as a child. I had an insatiable love of reading, I used to look for every fact book I could and tried to show how grown up I was by learning everything I could. I mostly played with my sisters toys and would occasionaly dress like her when I could but I didn’t think anything of it. I knew Daddy didn’t like it so I just didn’t do it when he was home. I watched a lot of TV and loved a lot of music. I would pretend I was Stevie Nicks or Olivia Newton John in my room and dance around. I also had a passion for stuffed animals. Any stuffed animal.

My parents liked to go to the fairs around the region I lived in during the summers and would take me and my sister along. My sister never wanted to stay with Mom and wanted to spend her money on rides but I would stay behind and go where she loved, the games. There was all kinds of games, spin a wheel, pop a balloon, toss a big die and bet to win a cheesy carnival prize. You would always end up spending more than the cost of whatever you eventually won but you would always end up with something. Mom and I would have fun and I would walk away with a stuffed animal. My sister didn’t want them, she was older than me and was way too cool for kids stuff like that. I loved them. They were soft and cuddly, unbearably cute, and I could play pretend games where they were my friends.

I should probably add that I didn’t really have any friends in my neighborhood other than the girl next door. Even she would only be friends when we were home since I was that weird boy that no one liked. It was ok with me though, I was happy and I had my friends. By the time I was 7 or 8 I had collected at least 50 stuffed animals, probably more. There is a couple of old pictures of my in my room, sitting in my bed absolutely surrounded by them. I loved everyone of these toys I owned but my clear favorite was the pink panther. He was cute and he was pink (I love pink) and his cartoon was the neatest one I watched on TV aside from Rocky and Bullwinkle. I love cartoons too, I am still a sucker for a good cartoon. I always went to bed with the pink panther clutched under my arm and I felt safe.

I sort of liked school too. I got really good marks and the teacher liked all my silly jokes I got from my joke books. The other kids didn’t like me so much because I wasn’t very boyish. Really I wasn’t boyish at all. I tried to hang around the girls and I would say things like “I want to be Wonder Woman” when we were talking about our favorite superheroes. I got beat up a lot. Pretty much every day. A black eye, bruises, bloody nose, scrapes and lots of pain. It didn’t worry me, I could just go home and play in my room and I didn’t have to worry about them. Mom started freaking out though. Dad decided I needed to learn how to defend myself. That went badly. I didn’t really want to for starters but I did it anyway with much complaining. Eventually I just told myself I could learn to fight like Wonder Woman and I was pretty good at it too. One thing Dad didnt consider though is that bullies don’t like losing fights. They came back in groups and I ended up getting hurt worse. Dad and Mom decided I needed help so they sent me to the school guidance councillor.

This was a long time before “it gets better”; when you were bullied the problem was with you not the bullies. The guidance councillor interviewed me. He sent me to see a specialist. The two of them decided that my issue was a problem with my gender non conforming behavior. This needed to be fixed before I could be happy (no one actually asked me if I was happy btw, I sitll maintain I was) so they sent me to yet another specialist in Toronto. I am pretty sure that it was the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, now CAMH home of Canada’s most prominant gender identity clinic. A gender identity clinic with a very checkered past (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Zucker)

I was sent home and it was decided that I needed to learn to be a man. No more gender deviant behavior. It was the only way to make me happy. My toys were thrown out, I was only allowed to watch appropriate TV shows, no more playing with the girl next door, I was made to go to hockey games with my brothers and I was forced to join boy scouts where I could learn to be manly after school with all the kids who bullied me during school. That day I came home and my toys went away is one permanantly etched on my brain. More than anything I remember the garbage bags being loaded with stuffed animals. As a cried and begged to just keep one I watched as my pink panther was put in a garbage bag and taken from my life forever.

I stopped being happy that day. Before that I could cope, I could escape. I could enjoy a bit of pleasure and childhood as myself in my own room. After that I was lonely, empty, sad. I couldn’t handle the bullies anymore because there was no escape. I would hurt myself. I got fat. I cried. Worst of all I gave up. I saw no future. I tried again to transition 11 years later at 19 but I as soon as it became difficult I assumed it was impossible and I gave up. Every time I tried after that day to persue my gender identity I would either put myself in danger or I would fail and end up hurting myself. This was my life for over 30 years.

In 2010 I hit rock bottom. I was 325 pounds, unable to walk from diabetes complications, getting daily nursing care and having severe constant anxiety attacks. A couple of things happened though. Firstly, a brilliant and wonderful surgeon fixed my ankle when I thought I would never be able to walk on it again. Secondly I found an old picture book. It had a picture of a young child on a bed holding a pink panther and smiling. I remembered that I could actually be happy and I wanted that. It had been so very long but I wanted that.

Since that day I have changed my life. I have lost over 140 pounds and am nearly off all my diabetic medications. I look really good too. I look much younger than my age. I also started transitioning full time. I knew I needed to be me or I was just going to die so I came out to Mom, my best friends, and all of my family. It has been really good for me being the woman I was meant to be. I smile. I like myself sometimes. I started going back to school and am hoping to enter a nursing program in January to finally get a job and have a life. It’s not all roses. Bad things still happen. I still have nightmares. I still face crippling anxiety at times. I do, however, see a future for the first time since I was that small child. That child didn’t deserve losing the life they lost. I feel like I’ve ben dead since that day and im just walking up. In spite of the challenges and the backsliding I keep trying to move forward, for that kid no one spoke up for, and for a pink panther that deserved to be loved for a life time.

P.S. Someday I will buy myself another stuffed pink panther. No one will take it away this time.