A Trans Kumite

In between a breath, gravity and its pull eluded me. Suspended in mid-air, in time. The world around me reduced to a blur; ears ringing in pain. With the mind unable to process this unorthodox orientation, absent thoughtful consideration, confusion reigned. It wasn't meant to be this way. Life was supposed to get better. My current levitation informed me otherwise. Junior High was going to be hell.

E.O. Green; a realm of wonderment and grim realities. I'd waited with gleeful anticipation to come here. To abandon the pain of my childhood, where I fought. Struggling with my feelings of dysphoria, of being female cursed with a male existence. A constant out of body experience. Beating against the transparent surface of a one-way mirror, helpless. Watching as the universe carried on without you. I thought that it could not get any worse.

Puberty is a funny thing. A rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. It defines our teenage years. The moment when your body picks a side. Male, Female, something else? To a cisgender person who has never had to question their gender it's simple. Boys become Men, and Girls become Women.

The answer is never so absolute when you're transgender. Part of you hopes the body won't persist in its evolution toward the inevitable betrayal of your soul. But it does. With a fierce determination it begins to distinguish itself form the relative androgyny of youth. For a young transgender girl each new development becomes a horror show stripping away hope. While most young boys beam with adorable pride over a tuft of peach fuzz gracing their upper lip, giving sight to a burgeoning manhood; I saw it, and my world ended.

Physical manifestations in staunch defiance of your gender identity would be enough to dampen the spirit of any young mind. Yet it was the unseen changes which affected me the most. An urge arose. A desire previously unknown to me. At a stage in my life full of acne, unwanted hair, and a cracking voice I began to feel an attraction--to boys.

Of all the places to be in the midst of an existential crisis over gender and sexuality P.E., was not it. I imagine that most boys in junior high school felt apprehensive at the prospect of being nude in front of others. I've yet to come across a person untouched by body image issues. For me as a transgender girl, sitting in a locker room full of similarly unadorned boys, it was a different matter altogether.

At first they saw me as one of their own. On a superficial level, I was. But a lone sheep among wolves never lasts. As they came to know one another, and the different cliques began to emerge, my uneasiness not only remained; but in stark contrast to the budding comradery, my awkwardness lit up the room like a beacon.

Shining as I was, drew the discerning eyes of those seeking elevation to the top of some primal food chain. Driven by their recent influx of testosterone no doubt. I felt like prey, and to them I was. By diminishing me, they'd position themselves as alpha males. They hated me. And after each shove into a locker, each unassuming foot laid in my path, and each strike against the back of my head, I hated myself. Each time they killed a part of me which I would never recover.

The focus of their depraved campaign against my sanity rested solely on one assumption; that I was gay. Whatever masculine facade I built up to feign normalcy in the outside world failed me in this place. Here I was, a girl, just trying to fit in. But it never felt right to allow these boys to see me absent my clothing. And with my new found attraction toward men, my eyes were prone to wondering. Lingering gazes that did not go unnoticed.

I hit the ground with such force, the punch which sent me flying seemed like a fond memory. Homophobic epithets cluttered my hearing. A physical blow accompanied each verbal assault. My vision waned as the tip of his boot found my skull. Just as my mind began to succumb to the barrage of pure hatred, and angel appeared. And I passed out.

A fellow student had come to my rescue. From across the yard he observed the onslaught and reacted without hesitation. To me it lasted several minutes when only seconds had elapsed. A teacher put a final end to the melee before any further carnage could ensue.

Not only was this classmate my savior, a man with a sound moral compass, he was cute too. I sometimes want to believe that it was an act of chivalry. That he somehow knew or saw me as a girl in trouble, a damsel in distress. Instead his actions were simply those of a decent human being willing to help another in need. Which only made me fall harder for him; my first crush. However, so long as my body insisted in its maleness, my female mind could not fathom how such a relationship would work. So I settled on having him as a bro-friend instead of a boyfriend.

My encounter that day taught me two things. I had to learn how to fight. And to stave off future suspicion I was going to need a girlfriend. My knight was a martial artist. His daring rescue lit a fire under me which has yet to be extinguished. A love for the martial arts.

It would be another year before I secured a girlfriend. Another year still, when I finally began my study of Karate. The incident on the playground was not the first or the last time I fell victim to a gay bashing; it wasn't even the worst. But thanks to a handsome stranger it became the catalyst that inspired the path I was to take; as a martial artist.

A love affair that began when an angel flow over me, and saved my life.

The author (far left of the picture) with her Wing Chun class at the age of 14.