I didn’t really wear skirts until late high school, and generally only wear makeup to cover up acne. When my older cousin came to visit once, I ended up playing football outside with the guys instead of learning how to straighten my hair. Tomboys have so much more fun, but unfortunately we often receive so much more crap too. 2 of my previous boyfriends, upon finding out about how and why I was bullied as a child, decided that I was actually bisexual and just didn’t know it yet. My most recent ex believes I cheated on him with an old girl friend of mine. In high school, my first boyfriend brought about peer remarks like “Oh? You’re with —-? But, I thought you were… I mean… I just didn’t know.”  I guess I did fit the stereotype back then, if there is such a thing. Mostly jeans, theatre nerd, soccer player… It doesn’t really help that I’m better with tools and home repair than most guys I know. Within some Christian circles, this makes people assume that I’m anti-family, anti-men, and am acting against Scripture. I was once shunned by several men and their families on a mission trip for helping to carry debris. But enough rambling. There is a point to this: You see, most of the assumptions people make about my sexuality, beliefs, or hobbies based on my decisions to wear (or not wear) a floral dress don’t really bother me much. My childhood bully story has a relatively happy ending.
I transferred schools in second grade. My favorite sport was softball, I loved going camping, never let my mom comb my wild hair, and generally preferred boy friends to girl. Within the first week, the three main bullies in my class labeled me as gay. Any girl found talking to me was labeled my girlfriend, and therefore quickly stopped befriending me. I didn’t actually know what that word meant, and so at first all I cared about was how alone I felt. I didn’t learn till later that my prepubescent sexuality was being determined by my peers based on my hair and ability to throw a softball. I remember being asked if I wished I were a boy. I remember some of the girls refusing to go to the restroom with me. One boy would write “F*** you” in the dirt and point at me. Twice I can remember a group a boys trying to punch me in the face at recess. The one girl I did befriend was with me at the time, and slapped one of the kids. I ran. Finally, after several intervention attempts, my teacher brought the 2 boys most responsible for the hate campaign outside one by one. Then she brought me outside with them, one bully at a time. She told me to yell at them. She told me to tell them what they were saying, why it hurt, what I thought of them, and that I never wanted them to do that again. She told me to yell it as loud as I could, and that it was ok if the other classes heard me. So I did. First it was pretty soft, but eventually I was yelling with everything I had.
The yelling wasn’t really what empowered me though. It was the fact that they stopped bullying me afterwards. I could talk to everyone again. They left me alone. I felt so in charge of myself that what other people thought stopped mattering. Most girls in similar circumstances have had it much worse. People started up the same bullying crap again in middle school (heaven forbid a heterosexual girl not wear ribbons in her hair), only then I found it funny. Yeah, I still have insecurities, and the stuff I mentioned in the first paragraph still stings. But, thankfully, it’s not as bad as I suspect it would’ve been without that experience.

5 thoughts on “Elena

  1. I can totally relate! As a kid I found an interest in Soccer and loved playing against the boys. At one point I was better than all the boys even my brothers and some that were in higher grades than I. I hated my name because it sounded too girly! I always loved getting dirty for as long as I remember, played sports, played with toy cars, wore baggy clothes… my mom never approved of me- my tomboy status. I remember her telling me that I should start wearing girls clothes and would take me shopping for some. She ALWAYS bought me pink shirts and girly dresses (which i would ONLY wear to church and hope no one would see me in them). I would always be very upset and eventually got her to stop buying me girly clothes. I would buy boys pants and she would dispise it. Throughout my 7 years of Elementary, I hung out with the boys and played sports every single day whenever possible! I dressed like them and acted like them and never understood the girls in my grade and what was so fun about socializing or whats attractive about boys. I never cared to look pretty, never cared what i looked like, never brushed my hair and left it looking like “a rat’s nest” -my mom would say. Once I was asked why I dress like a boy (which I never thought was important or why girls and boys had to dress certain ways, i just wore what I liked), and i quickly replied, “Because girls suck”. I sort of regret it but at the time I would always say “I wish I were a boy. Why did god make me a girl? I hate girls they’re boring and weird and never want to have fun like the boys.” I never thought girls sucked though… I just thought BEING a girl sucked. Until this day I still agree. I’m 16 now and life is hard… Since grade 6 I’ve had no friends and never understood why they stopped talking to me and avoided me. I’m crazy about videogames even though I’m too busy for them lately. I still don`t like to wear girls clothes but sometimes I`m so self-concious I can`t go on with people judging me or pointing out my flaws. My self esteem since grade 6 dropped dramatically and is still low except that now I can talk to people again but not very open anymore. The only place I can express myself is through text. I almost cry everytime I face a teacher for help or something stupid like that. I never want to cry but I feel so low and out of place. Since Junior high, we`ve had a lack of boys in our grade. Maybe 4 of 25 at the most. It was a fine-arts school and sounded feminine I guess. I NEVER loved cooking, cleaning, sewing, and those things that are classified as ‘feminine’. I always loved sports, art, and almost anything boys liked. I’m used to being around girls now since I spent a very defined part of my life around them. Being around all these girls for so long, made me realize that I`m different. That I`m weird and no one could understand me. Some thought I was lesbian which I do not even believe in. I`m in grade 11 and still a tomboy, but sometimes I feel like i`m not anymore. My mom has never allowed me to cut my hair passed my chin and I don`t want to hurt her by doing it myself. I still like baggy pants but also bought a few girl-fashion-trend clothes since my style was unaccepable to others. I`m very self-concious STILL and don`t know where I`m at or who I am. I`ve thought about trans-gender stuff which seems so wrong to me, but I just hate being a girl. Especially now that i`ve hit puberty and everything is wrong with my body except that i’m still pretty fit just lazy. I’m going through depression and have a strong dislike in boys. I guess because I havent been around them forever, they never hang around me because I’m not feminine enough (this is probably what they are thinking), and the only words I’ve heard from boys are negativity about life from my brothers and harsh sexism! I’ve wanted to join the military but was afraid that boys would sexually assault me (which is almost 85% of what happens to female caddettes in militaries lately.) and I will never be able to stand the negativity and critism I recieve because I’m a frikin girl. I have nowhere to go in life and have no motivation to try to come up with a decision. My life feels like it’s already ended from being shunned for so many years. My brothers used to make fun of me all the time for being a tomboy, never accepting that I am still human no matter what I am. My older brothers don’t talk to me anymore except one that always bothers me about liking boys because I’m in high school now. I don’t know where to go from here and I have no one to talk to. Just because I like things most girls don’t doesn’t mean I’m gay. Why does “tomboy” have to be classified as a sexual group? Why isn’t “tom-girl” one? I like sports, is that so wrong?

  2. I also loved being noticed or thought of as a guy. I liked to convince people that I was a boy and try changing my name to a boy’s name… It used to be prettyeasy to convince people because I was born with a lower voice. My mom had a cold when she was pregnant with me and it permenantly changed mine. I’m too embarrassed to sing with the girls because the girls sound so pretty and I sound really weird and masculine if I try to sing. I always loved singing but I never liked to DO the singing. I feel so alone in this world. I never want to be like all the other girls and I want to have fun. Men degrade women so horribly I feel useless and have no future. Right now I’m looking at no future and am failing high school. I used to be a straight-A student in Elementary until grade 6 when I had no real friends that took me seriously. The would simply say that I’m not mature enough to hear what they were talking about. Since that day I found out they were keeping secrets from me, I lost all my friends. How is you’re life doing right now? ‘Cause I just want to end mine now. My life is too full of humiliation and crap to care anymore. I requested a councellor (spelling) and can’t even open up to him without crying. I’m too much of a baby now and hate it. Any tips you would have, please tell me. I would love to hear anything.

      • Oh, thank you so much! I tend to have depressing moments and just crash when things pile up. I give up on what I can’t take anymore and so far I have no future goals or dreams. I appreciate that you made it a main page article (as I don’t know how to do that. Also, I apologize for getting carried away with my story!). Feedback might be exactly what I need. Thank you again.

  3. For instance, the article glosses over the very reality that gender nonconforming girls face any backlash by declaring that tomboys are an accepted part of society. Right, because boyish girls never get treated poorly, that is entirely my experience. What seems universal in the article, regardless of how each child presented himself, is that the parents of the kids have an extremely hard time navigating.

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