During the conversation, I said the following. Please note I have never said this to anyone including my therapist, although I've been able to articulate it in my mind for years. I had been too afraid to speak these words, out of fear that people might reject me.
Gender is a continuum, with men and women on either side. The truth is there is a lot of us that fall somewhere in the middle. I've seen studies in which it's been said that tomboyism is a step away from being a lesbian.* I don't know if that is true, but I know I am a tomboy and always have been. As a child I insisted on dressing and acting like a little boy. In a lot of ways I never grew out of it. While I'm straight and am comfortable with myself these days, I fall somewhere in the middle of the continuum, if I'm being honest. Just like Bruce.
*Coworkers got real quiet at this point.
I was surprised when that comment was received positively, but these days I am no longer invested in the outcome when I speak my truth and use my voice. I am so glad I was finally able to say that because I think about it every day.
Heather Havrilesky of the "Ask Polly" advice column is my favorite. I look forward to every Wednesday when a new column of hers comes out. One of the most poignant and profound columns I've read was one titled "How do I make my husband act like more of a man?" My favorite quote from the whole deal is this:
"...it's true that I'm not quite a straight woman. I'm more like a working breed of dog, trapped in a woman's body. I like this body, thankfully! But my personality is not very straight-womanly in the traditional sense, and straight women (and non-working-breeds of dog?) don't always appreciate my mix of aggression and whimsy, confidence and second-guessing, neuroticism and laziness, wise-ass remarks and self-reflection, dominance and submission, barking and rolling over."
And this one comes in a close second because it describes me perfectly:
"We are sexy man-worshiping tomboys"
But seriously, read the whole column. And all the others. They are spot on.
In my life I used to think things were black and white. You were or you weren't. ie. You are masculine or feminine. This fucked with me relentlessly until I was able to let go and realize that things don't have to look or be a certain way. I can be a sexy, man-worshiping tomboy and live in my truth (which is what I've been doing lately) and wow, it FEELS AMAZING to just be me!
Things don't have to look a certain way. This is my current motto and you can ask anyone who speaks to me on a regular basis because I say it constantly. Mostly to remind myself that the continuum makes life more interesting, and far more enjoyable.
I believe that everyone should live as their true, authentic self. We all have our own journey on this planet, and the sooner we live in our truth, the better our lives will be. People crave authenticity. And although sometimes the journey is long and winding, full of pit stops, and bumps in the road, life is an adventure and is way more fun when you're not pretending to be someone you're not. I wish Bruce the happiness and peace he hasn't had since he was a small child.