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Personal: Good Girls Don’t Wear suits and Ties: My Life As A Gender Non Conforming Person

Joaquin Tenedora-Forte
July 7, 2016

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Human beings have a way to make you feel unwelcome by their glances or their words. Since I was a little kid I did not fit in to the gender box of being a girl, oh by the way I am a girl and also have some people would deem a disability as I wrote on the eve of christmas eve, last year I have cerebral palsy yes double minority, for me that is really hard especially growing up.

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I grew up in a moderately catholic home in the Philippines, my parents with my mom a university professor and my father a businessman, I have one younger sister. my first memory of being gender non-conforming is hating barbie dolls, my knee jerk reaction is that I hated their hair, and I was about four. When I was about six years old my parents bought me mega blocks for my birthday. My sister and I played with it for at least seven years. I was always the boy character in our made-believe land.

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As I grow older I notice, I became more uncomfortable in girls outfits. in fact the last time I wore a dress at the mall is when I was 10 years old.  Also with my school uniform. I always have crushes on my boy classmates, but when I was 13 and in Grade six I became noticing a girl classmate, she is cute and our class valedictorian. I never made something of it.

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Christmas was always been a special day for my family, but their is this one christmas I had vivid memories of. (here’s the deal, Filipinos open gifts on christmas eve,) so I opened my presents, I look at my seven year old nephew’s gifts and I started tearing up, because I never gotten what I wanted but what I wanted is the toys he had. It will be so embarrassing for me to cry so I held my tears up.

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At around fourteen, my baby cousin is two and he began learning his words. As a gender non conforming kid, I was always wearing typical  boy clothing. he will call me Kuya, Kuya is a tagalog word for older  brother, cousin or whatever. Of course my aunt and uncle is not thrilled with me. As if I was confusing their son. looking back on it my responds will be, is their a problem, and you should be teaching your kid about acceptance. But they will never do that because they are evangelical christians.

When I was 16 years old, my school had a prom, my 3rd year in high school. I was not planning on going to this prom because I am not wearing a gown!. My dad ask my principal if I could wear something else. the principal said Yes. And I wore a suit to the prom. When I wore that I felt so good about myself. But years after the prom i fell so ashamed, until recently, I said to myself there is nothing to feel ashamed about, that’s who I am.

 

My family had been so awesome to me especially my mom and my dad  after high school graduation they enrolled me in my mom’s former school, my first reaction (an open university type deal) where in you do your assignments at home and will email it to your teachers, I hated it at first, but today I love the freedom of expression I get from not being a subject to gender norms.

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If I will thank someone who will it be, it will be my grandmother, who when one christmas I was wearing a vest and a tie. And my mom was talking to her about me. She turn to my mom and said. Ning, that’s okay, she looks good. My grandmother is the one who bought me all the boy shirts when I was a kid. She is so awesome.

If I have an advice for people who are like me or who have children like me just let your children be themselves. And the world will catch up with your identities, because you are born this way and people who say is not your friends.

Lastly, to makes things clear the name Joaquin is not my actual birth name but the last name is. since 2 years ago I have been using it. After my sister and I was talking to my dad about names if we were boys he said that he would name me Joaquin, so I started using the name.

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