So This Is How It Goes

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So This Is How It Goes by Casey Bader - Photo by Hannah Rubenstein

So this is how it goes:

You’re 10, and it’s your first year at a real school, you’ve been homeschooling, but it’s fifth grade, and here you are. And, you’re a boy. 100%. Not even a question. Boyest boy ever. Obviously.

So you’re just coasting along, doing fifth grade things, having a ball. Well, you’re not having a ball, you’re running away seven times throughout the year. You’re not going to make it home, though, you never even make it out of the school’s property.

But, here you are, and you’re fine, really, there are some issues, but you’re fine, OK? And there’s this kid on your bus, and he’s—well, there’s something about him, y’know? He’s annoying as hell, sure, but there’s something about him.

Here’s a memory, in specific, here’s a memory. You’re walking down the stairs at school, and you think, “maybe…maybe? But I like girls, definitely. But…maybe, also?”

Wait, hold on.

So this is how it goes:

You’re nine, and you’re reading a comic, and wow, there are these two girls, and they…they like each other? That’s a thing? Yeah, it’s gay. That’s the realization, you tell yourself, that’s the realization. Gayness. That’s it.

(You already knew that boys could be gay. Ignore that. There’s nothing more to this realization. Shut. Up.)

(Knowing that girls like girls, that’s irrelevant, okay? That doesn’t matter. It’s gayness.)

So this is how it goes:

It’s Chanukah. You’ve built up your courage, you’re ready. You ask your mom to come upstairs and you say, “Mom, I like girls, yes, but, maybe I like boys?”

And she says, “It’s fine if you’re gay!”

And you say, “I’m not gay, I’m, well, if I’m anything I’m bisexual.”

And that’s okay. She’s okay. Obviously, your family is great.

So this is how it goes:

You’re 10, and it’s your first year at a real school, you’ve been homeschooling. but it’s fifth grade, and here you are. And, you’re, something. Something, maybe. Maybe a girl?

You ask everyone to call you Alex. It’s somewhat undercut, because your therapist is named Alex. But, you came up with it on your own, OK? You’re Alex, maybe.

So this is how it goes:

You’re on a video call, and your friend asks, “are you trans?” She’s embarrassed about it, so she writes it in chat. Looking back, all you can picture is a Zoom call, but this was a FaceTime. Funny how that works.

Everything’s true to memory, but memory isn’t always true to life.

You say yes.

——

So this is how it goes. You’re 11, you’re starting sixth grade. Second year at real school. And yo’’re a boy! You’re a boy. You hope everyone just forgets about all that nonsense from last year, cause you were just confused. You are a boy.

——

So this is how it goes. You’re 12, you’re in 7th grade. You’re in this group chat, with all the queer people in school, it’s just three, but there are others, maybe. You’re on this chat, and, well. Maybe. Maybe?

It’s the pandemic! 2020! Yay. So you’re at home, and, well, you have this Lenovo. And, you want to play Skyrim. You don’t have money. But. You want to play Skyrim.

So, you know, well. There are websites. There are downloads. Bethesda won’t mind, they have so much money already.

Is this illegal? Maybe? It’s kinda hard to tell.

Wait, that’s not the right order.

So this is how it goes:

You’re 12, sure. All that jazz. You’re watching The Legend of Korra, cause it’s gay at the end, you hear. And…yeah, they look nice. Korra’s really strong, Asami’s hot, for lack of a better word. And yeah, maybe it’s just, ooh girl look good.

But maybe.

(You’ll read fanfiction, later, and you’ll find someone who had the same experience as you. You’ll wonder, how many people were awakened by this? Is it just a coincidence, or is there something about this show that makes people realize that it’s more than just attraction?)

So this is how it goes:

You’re playing Skyrim, and the male model is just too bulky, okay? It’s all manly and weird. But—you’re manly, you’re a boy, it’s just…the female model just looks better, okay?

Okay.

…okay?

So this is how it goes:

You’re not addicted to video games! You just really love the feeling of exploring another world, of becoming someone else, someone who lives in a much cooler world than you do. And for this person you can become, compared to all the crazy video game stuff going on around them, well, maybe it wouldn’t be so crazy to be a girl, after all.

So this is how it goes:

You write down a list of names. You cycle through them. Morgan? No, not chaotic enough. May? Too chaotic. June? Why did you write down two months? Month names are dumb.

Casey?

Maybe.

So this is how it goes:

You have Slime Rancher, it’s a good game. Your younger siblings, they want to play. Your younger siblings, they keep using the wrong name. That’s something, there.

(Your parents weaken the consequence to the point where it doesn’t even matter, but you think that they would have started using the right name way faster if you had been allowed to dole out Slime Rancher time as you saw fit.)

So this is how it goes:

You’re 13, you’re in eighth grade. You’re… you’re a girl. You’re transgender.

But you’re not ready, not yet. So you’re not trans at school.

Not yet.

So this is how it goes:

(And by the way you’re still mad about this one.)

Your Navi teacher, he gives you this test. One of the questions is “What was David and Jonathan’s relationship?”

You answer, “They were LOVERS and best friends.”

He crosses out lovers, circles best friends, and docks you the point.

Later you ask if he hates when you say David was gay because his name is also David and it threatens his masculinity.

You get into a lot of trouble for that, which, yeah. Deserved.

So this is how it goes:

You’re on Zoom now. They aren’t, it’s just you. Your friends think that it’s cause you’re nervous about COVID.

Kinda? But, also.

So this is how it goes:

Your teachers make the announcement, you don’t want to be there for it. The rest of the year you’re still on Zoom, but you wear a dress to graduation.

So this is how it goes:

You’re 14, and it’s your fifth year at a real school, you’ve been homeschooling, but it’s ninth grade, and here you are. And, you’re a girl. 100%. Not even a question. Girlest Girl ever. Obviously.

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