I was supposed to be Amy, not Gary.
After having two boys in a row (1966, 1968), my parents were hoping for a girl when my mom was pregnant for a third time in 1970. As my mom recalls it, my dad told her “Three strikes and you’re out”—three kids would be enough, so this was their last chance for a girl.
But instead they got me, another boy, in December of 1970.
Of course my parents were happy first and foremost to have a healthy baby, so there was no ‘disappointment’…but the dream of having a daughter didn’t entirely leave my mom’s mind.
Here’s a photo of me and my brothers on Halloween, 1972. Brian dressed as Batman; Grant dressed as Woody Woodpecker; and me, in my highchair, dressed as…‘Amy’.
To be clear, this is the first and last time my mom dressed me as a girl. I asked her about it recently and she said, “Well, I guess I figured since I’m never going to have a daughter to put in pretty clothes and hair ribbons, I could at least dress you up for one day!” So she borrowed a dress from her friend who had a daughter my age, thus giving me my drag queen debut before the age of two (I’ve always been way ahead of trends).
I have always found this bit of family history amusing—it was Halloween! And I was a toddler, clueless as to what was going on; no big deal. And honestly, my mom was probably so exhausted with raising three little boys that it was an easy costume to throw together. And maybe in some small way it helped her say goodbye to her dream of having a daughter.
But now I wonder what my life would’ve been like had I been born in our current era. This dress-up was a one-time occasion, unprompted by me, but also not protested by toddler me either. “I think you liked it!” my mom laughed, when recounting the story.
It’s easy to look back and laugh, but a thought keeps nagging at me: If I grew up in today’s climate, would my mom have looked for ‘signs’ that maybe trapped inside my boy’s body, I was ‘actually’ that little girl she had hoped for?
Because if a parent begins looking for signs of a ‘transgender child’, they will find them. And you often will find these ‘signs’ in the behavior of children who will grow up to be gay men and lesbians.
Today, politically left-leaning parents are encouraged to find evidence of ‘trans children’. These parents are adults who have supported their gay friends for years, proudly exhibiting their ‘LGBTQIA+ Ally’ buttons and bumper stickers, and have been misled to believe that ‘trans’ is an extension of the gay rights movement they supported. It is not. It is, in fact, in direct conflict with gay rights, and a danger to gay people’s very existence.
There are a number of reasons why a parent might claim to have a ‘trans child’ and push their child in that direction:
Some do it for attention, social media clout, or Social Justice Warrior points.
Some parents are homophobic and would rather have a trans child than a gay kid.
And some, unfortunately, are caring parents with the best intentions who have been led to believe they are doing the right thing. But as the saying goes, ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’.
I don’t believe my mother would be one of the ‘Transhausen by Proxy’ parents. But my mom was a ‘bleeding heart liberal,’ as my uncle, her conservative banker brother, used to teasingly say. As a social worker who cared deeply about her clients, and as a person who has lived the motto ‘Be kind’ long before it became a hashtag, my mother would surely be sympathetic to the narrative being put forth by trans activists if she was a young mother rearing her children today.
In fact, I think the first time I ever heard about a trans person was in the 80s when my mom came home from work with a story: She had gotten a call from another case worker about one of her food stamp clients. The person was named Miguel but had adopted a female identity and had recently started entering his name as ‘Maria’ on forms. My mother patiently tried to explain the situation, but the other case worker was exasperated: “Well, this is all very confusing for us down here filing this paperwork!!” My mother replied, “Well, if you’re confused, imagine how poor Maria must feel.”
That’s my mom in a nutshell. Caring, compassionate, open-minded, always wanting to help people and do the right thing. I could see her being one of the moms who, with the best loving intentions, would be easily manipulated into leading her kid down a trans path.
Here’s the kind of kid I was: I was a small, ‘artistic’, timid, non-athletic boy with two brutes as older brothers. I loved my Dapper Dan doll and my poodle stuffed animal. I liked to play ‘librarian’, numbering and organizing my books by subject. I made my brothers library cards so if they wanted to read a Peanuts paperback or How To Care For Your Monster, they had to ‘check it out’ with me.
I loved the color purple, because my favorite TV star Donny Osmond had purple socks. It was difficult to find purple boys’ clothes in those days, so my mom dyed a denim jacket for me.
I also asked Santa for the Donny & Marie dolls and my mom (because she is awesome) made sure Santa delivered.
My best friends were always the girls, not the boys. Here I am at my Burger King birthday party with my besties:
I hated going to Cub Scouts and Webelos. They had us carving a car out of a block of wood…boooring. I would have rather been with the Girl Scouts on the other side of the church basement—they were learning to sew, which would have come in handy for me because I wanted to make some outfits for my puppets. (Plus, they got to sell cookies!!)
I was horrible at sports. Not only was I the last kid picked for teams; the team that ended up with me lamented, ‘Awwww, we have to have GARY!!’ And I didn’t want to play anyway! I would’ve been happy to stay indoors with my coloring books and Weebles. But my older brothers loved baseball, so of course my parents signed me up for little league too. It is not hyperbole in the slightest to say that I was traumatized by this experience. People kept yelling at me ‘DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE BALL!!!’ I never could understand how was I supposed to not be afraid when they were THROWING IT AT MY FACE. I was finally allowed to quit after I made the quixotic/shameful attempt to steal first base. (No, I did not understand the rules of the game!)
Naturally, I dreaded gym class—except for the month that the teacher put away the climbing ropes and dodgeballs and we learned square dancing instead. [Is that still a thing anywhere??]
I liked to watch my mom ‘putting on her face’ at her makeup mirror, and when she was done I’d go sit in her chair and play.
Look at this photo of me playing with Tupperware toys with my cousin. It was a hot day so the adults took our shirts off. You can see in my body language that I am uncomfortable…even at this young age I felt self-conscious about my chubby little body. I always envied girls and how they were able to cover up. If you had told me I could opt out of being a boy and wear a one-piece bathing suit like my girl pals, I would’ve jumped at the chance.
I know my mom noticed that I was ‘different’ than my brothers, because she has told me as much—she confided that she worried that I might grow up to be gay. She was worried not because it was ‘wrong’ but worried that it would make my life difficult. (Well, yes, it did.)
A couple years after I was born, my mom’s sister had a baby—a girl—who she named (guess what) Amy. My cousin became my best friend growing up. She was more fun to play with than my brothers, who were too rough and rowdy for me. And it wasn’t because she and I only played stereotypically girl activities; it was more that we played together without any defined rules. Sometimes we would play with her Barbie dolls, and sometimes we would pretend we were Ponch & Jon on ‘CHiPs’. We had sleepovers where we would lie in our beds singing rounds of ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’ until my aunt came upstairs and told us to knock it off and go to sleep. We enjoyed typical kid activities like running through sprinklers and bouncing on seesaws. Our moms were both social workers so we would play ‘welfare office’, with one of us filling out forms for food stamps and the other fulfilling the request.
One year, Amy and I were sent to a summer day camp for a few weeks. This was in my cousin’s town, where I was a ‘new kid’ in a group of children who all knew each other. On the first day, my auntie dropped us off and while we waited for instructions from the camp supervisors, Amy and I sat on the grass and played that ‘Playmate’ hand-clapping game. Because we were in different age categories, we got separated into different groups. When it was time to go off with my peers, I was scorned and ridiculed (by both the boys and the girls) for having been seen playing a ‘girl’s game’. The rest of summer camp was miserable. I spent the entire time alone, as the other kids all shunned me.
My brothers had a huge influence on my self-image growing up.
I can pinpoint exactly the day I stopped being carefree and when I started to learn to ‘watch myself’. It was when I was 5 or 6 and my brother Grant walked in on me doing a song and dance routine to my Casper the Friendly Ghost record. His disgusted laughter let me know this kind of behavior was completely unacceptable. He said he was going to tell everyone, and I grabbed onto his leg and pleaded with him not to as he dragged me down the hall. I can still recall the rug burn.
According to my brothers, the TV shows I liked were wrong for boys. In addition to Donny and Marie, I also loved Captain & Tennille and Shields & Yarnell (variety shows were HUGE in the 70’s). The music I liked was wrong (it wasn’t heavy metal), and I didn’t even like the right comic books (I read Richie Rich and Casper, and not the DC and Marvel superheroes).
On our family trip to Walt Disney World, I didn’t get to climb the Swiss Family Treehouse because Brian and Grant said that was for girls.
Because of my brothers and their friends, I was aware that being gay was THE WORST THING YOU COULD BE. It was so awful that you had to make sure that under no circumstances should anyone suspect you might be gay. It was made clear to me that my speech, habits, hobbies, and general demeanor were too ‘girly’, and ‘girly’ = gay. I was constantly instructed with ‘rules’ set by my brothers. Here are some of them:
- When I was little: boys could do somersaults, but cartwheels were only for girls. Naturally, skipping was forbidden.
- In junior high: you had to hold your books a certain way– with one hand, to the side. NOT with two arms in front of your belly–that’s how girls and weak homos carried their books. But what if you had three classes in a row before a locker break and had a stack of books to carry? Those books are heavy. Tough shit. Be a man.
- If someone asks you to show them your nails (It was never explained where/why this would ever happen) you were to hold your hands out in front of you with the palms up and fingers curled. You were to NEVER put your hands out palms down, as this was the first clue that you were a fairy.
- Quiz: How do you wipe your ass after taking a shit? With your hand between your legs or to the side? There is only one correct way for boys/men. Yes, this is how detailed The Rules were.
In their own twisted way, my brothers were trying to help. They were worried that I would get beat up and, knowing that I would never be able to defend myself, were trying to prevent the beatings from happening.
But once he reached his teen years, my brother Brian became vicious with his verbal abuse. He didn’t just relentlessly call me faggot and homo; he christened me ‘Buttfuck Charlie’. In front of my parents, he would grin deviously and call me ‘Chaaaarlieeeee’…they didn’t know the reference, but he knew that I knew what that meant.
And while he was hammering at me, my other brother Grant ‘defended’ me by saying ‘If you keep calling him that he’s going to end up That Way!’
For a short time, I tried to win my brothers’ approval. They loved KISS, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, etc., so I decided to be a fan of a heavy metal group too. I chose Quiet Riot, which was probably the LEAST respectable choice, but my brothers seemed to approve as at least it was a step in the ‘right’ direction. For Christmas that year I asked for, and received, a bounty of Quiet Riot merchandise: T-shirt, poster, cassette, etc. What a waste of Christmas presents. [Is it too late for a do-over, mom?]
As a teen I got into soap operas, but those were for ladies, so I had to watch Days Of Our Lives secretly. I had a TV on my desk in my bedroom, so I would sit right in front of it with my hand on the channel-changer in case my brothers walked in. This was during the ‘Golden Age’ of the Soap Supercouples (Bo & Hope, Kim & Shane, Steve & Kayla), and I was a HUGE fan. Wanting to read the articles about upcoming storylines, I’d shamefully pick up the Soap Opera Digest at the supermarket checkout, feeling as if all eyes were on me. I hid the magazines under piles of clothes in my closet like they were porn! (Being a soap fan was good practice for when I grew older and had to learn to live my life in the closet.)
I spent Thanksgivings and Christmases in the kitchen with my female family members, not with my father, brothers, and uncles in the den watching football. I knew I was ‘different’ for feeling more comfortable among the females, but nobody told me it was because I had a ‘female brain’. Today, that’s what society-at-large would be telling me.
The era in which I grew up was ingrained with proper gender roles and hypermasculinity. It went way beyond ‘boys don’t cry’. The message was “Stop acting like a girl or else people will think you’re a fag.” Thank goodness we’ve come so far and the world is more accepting of gay people, right? Wrong. Today that message would be “You’re acting like a girl…you must really be a girl! Let’s get you on some drugs to help you be your ‘true self’!” It’s the same old homophobia, but disguised in rainbows and glitter, and promoted by corporations cashing in on Pride™. It’s pushed by greedy pharmaceutical companies and unscrupulous doctors, whose directives are dutifully followed by liberal parents thinking they’re ‘on the right side of history’.
We are getting astoundingly offensive messages like this:
And our ‘friends’ are inadvertently showing their latent homophobia:
Yes, my brothers were cruel to me. But I don’t harbor any ill will against them. They were boys doing what brothers do. Like all of us, they grew up. And while I struggled with a lot of things, I think I turned out OK.
But what frightens me is this: How would my life play out if I was a kid today? What’s the best way for a mom in 2023 to protect her effeminate son? It occurs to me how much easier it must be for a mother to explain to her two older sons, “Be gentle with your 11-year-old sibling. He is not your brother but your sister. He was assigned male but he is really female; that’s why he acts the way he does, so differently than you two. From now on we are going to give him this girl’s name and start using ‘she’ and ‘her’.”
And how much easier it must be for the effeminate boy to go along with this. He knows he is ‘different’ but can’t explain it. He doesn’t know what sexuality is (hopefully), so he has no awareness that he may grow up to be attracted to other males. All he knows right now is that he is getting support and encouragement from his family, teachers, and doctors. Rather than feeling like a misfit, he is celebrated, ‘lovebombed’, and made out to be a hero.
This is where ‘Be kind’ goes terribly wrong.
There is tremendous pressure—especially if you are politically left-leaning—to ‘affirm’ a child who claims an opposite sex ‘gender identity’. The LGBTQIA+ activists and organizations, schools, doctors, therapists, the entire Democratic Party up to and including the President of the United States, are all telling parents that their children ‘know who they are’ and to follow their lead. When these voices claim to speak for the ‘LGBTQIA+ community’, they conveniently leave out the LGB; you never hear them tell a parent to just leave the child alone because his or her gender non-conforming behavior may be a sign that he or she will grow up to be same-sex attracted. The message is always to ‘affirm’ and transition the child to the opposite sex.
There is no such thing as a ‘trans child’.
No, kids do not ‘know who they are’. The notion that children have this concrete inner sense of self is patently absurd. I’m shocked on a daily basis that the world got to this place. It feels like we’re living in a sadistic Twilight Zone episode.
Remember earlier when I told you how I liked to play at my mom’s makeup mirror? Well, that was true—but in the midst of that list of gender nonconforming behavior, it was a red herring.
See, my mother’s makeup mirror looked like this:
You could spin the mirror around and see your face WAY up close! It had a dial that you could use to change the lights to different colors! The settings said ‘Day, Office, Home, Evening’, which sparked my playtime imagination. My mom used it to get ready for a night out, but to me it was a toy.
In front of the mirror were lipsticks, compacts, and mascaras. I liked the way all the blush and lipstick cases snapped, twisted, and clicked. They were fun to play with—the same way it was fun to play with the zippers and buttons on my Dapper Dan. I was PLAYING. I never once applied any makeup to my face; that did not interest me in the slightest. I was fascinated by the packaging and design.
I say this was a red herring because, while reading the earlier passage, you probably interpreted my playing at my mom’s makeup mirror as one of the ‘signs’ that I would grow up to be gay. You may have imagined me as a man, performing in drag or becoming a makeup artist. But neither of those things are true. I’m sure there are plenty of gay men out there who discovered their interest in makeup at their mother’s vanity…but I am not one of them. Things aren’t always as they seem. Yes, I did happen to grow up to be gay—but this behavior has no connection to that.
An adult viewing this childhood behavior today might view this as a boy wanting girls’ things, and wanting to be a girl. Again, they’d be wrong in my case. Things aren’t always what they seem.
The point I’m trying to make is this: I’ve given you many examples of my childhood experiences that may have been clues that I would turn out to be gay…but in the end, no one really knows. I was just a kid who was exploring, playing, and imagining. A kid with many varied interests. A kid who wrote stories, put on puppet shows, recorded skits on cassette tapes, drew cartoons, read books, won coloring contests, made friendship bracelets, performed in community theater, and built elaborate sand castles and communities of snowmen. A kid who, among other things, would grow up to be a cartoonist and writer. And happened to be gay.
We can speculate on what children will grow up to be—what career they will have, who they will marry, etc.—but we can only ever see ‘evidence’ in hindsight. Some things are not necessarily what they appear.
If a little boy expresses interest in nail polish, it’s not because he’s ‘really a girl’. Maybe it’s just…I can put colors on my fingernails?! Cool! How fun! And he’ll grow up to be the most heterosexual man you ever met.
Let kids be kids. Let them play. Stop trying to read so much shit into what they’re doing! They’re learning about life, and learning about themselves, as they grow. Stop confusing them with the lie of an internal ‘gender identity’. There is no such thing.
My story is not remarkable…but I guess that is the point. I’m just a regular person who’s a happy and content gay guy. How many kids are out there now who won’t have the opportunity to grow into gay men and lesbians because they’ve had their minds manipulated with gender woo-woo and their bodies irreversibly altered?
I used to lament that I was either born too early or too late. It seemed like gay men had more fun in the 70’s and early 80’s—sure, you more or less had to be closeted, but there was no AIDS yet and gay people had their own little subculture. But by the time AIDS got under control and societal acceptance increased, I was already in my thirties. I enjoyed those years, but felt like I had missed out on a lot in my twenties due to fear and hate.
Now I’m glad that I was born when I was. I would hate to be a kid growing up today. I fear for these children—they’re being sold a lie, and having their futures destroyed. The homophobia (and misogyny) is off the charts—and it’s all being deceptively packaged under a rainbow.