Tiger Princess: A Transgender Girl's Space Opera

As a child, I had no comprehension of why I differed from other girls. I knew they saw me as a boy; but, I lacked the language to address this peculiarity. The few attempts I made to express my feelings were discounted as the wild imaginings of a silly boy.

Children are world builders, creating fantastical realms in which to play out intricate narratives. They imagine the universe as it might be until reality upends those beliefs. They formulate whimsical ideas for concepts beyond their understanding.

For any child, living inside imaginary lands offers an escape, a place to pass the time. For a transgender girl struggling with questions of identity, the ability to imagine a place where people see her for who she is, treat her as a girl, and loves her as a daughter becomes essential for her survival. A place where she belongs and is accepted.

Before the age of five, I noticed my extra appendage. At some point in their early development children pick up on the glaring difference; though, to most cisgender boys it is the girl that is missing something, not themselves. In formulating a possible answer—using my superior toddler brain—I determined that all girls must start out looking like boys. My expectation was that it would eventually fall off, and I'd finally be a daughter to my mother.

Sometimes the imagination is so powerful, that natural objects take on new and unbelievable properties. These are much more than mere props; they become real. My mother's magical blue dress became an elegant gown, perfect for any aspiring ballerina to capture the hearts of the audience. Blankets strewed about the living room become the towering canopy of a lush jungle, ripe for exploration. Dolls and an uncooperative cat become welcomed guests at a tea party.

Around the age of eight or nine the dysphoria I experienced seemed endless. I could not reach out; I could not rely on anybody—I could not fit in. So, of course, I came to the next viable conclusion, I must be an alien.

The answer was obvious; coming to me in dream-like awoken memories. I was born on a planet in a far off galaxy. Although, not as I am now but a princess. I was known to my people as the Tiger Princess. Our society worshipped my family, the royal family. My mother was beloved of her people.

But, not every denizen of our beautiful planet was content to serve a queen; they sought to dispose of my mother and send us hurtling into a civil war. Yet, unable to accomplish this—with support lacking among the citizens of the kingdom—the rival faction searched for an army from across the stars; finding a ready and willing army their plans to overthrow my mother was set into motion.

My mother, fearing for my safety, made the hardest decision a parent can make. To save my life, she would send me away to an uncharted galaxy. But, to ensure I was never found, she used a technology available only to the royal family to disguise me as one of the creatures that inhabited my new home. I was transformed into a male human and sent to earth.

So here I sat, convinced of my extraterrestrial nature. It felt like the only possible explanation. All that I had to do was to survive this false existence long enough for my family to find me. Then I would be returned to my natural female form and rule alongside my mother.

Yeah—so obviously the particulars of this story have never been fleshed out, I was only a child after all. However, it was my insistence in this unlikely tale that brought me through the latter part of my childhood. It felt good to have a reason for my suffering; to know that there would be an end, that I was special.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the film Jupiter Ascending about an average earth woman who finds that she is in fact space royalty. Though it is not exactly my space opera, it is fascinating that it was, in part, made by the Wachowski Sisters—transgender women.

Imagination is vital to a healthy life, part of growing up. It fosters creativity; it provides context to a confusing world at a time when nothing makes sense; it inspires innovation as we mature. Without an imaginative mind, we don't have music, art, or poetry. Without imagination—we don't have me.

There is hope. Hope that I did not know as a little girl hiding out as my sister's brother. Hope that comes only after a lifetime of dreaming—a lifetime of reaching out toward the impossible.

My ship has yet to arrive. Or perhaps it has, just not in the way I'd imagined all those years ago. In truth I am my mother's daughter, I am a sister, and I am my father's princess. And for those truths, I could not be happier. I am living my heart, seeing through eyes no longer clouded by doubt and pain. I am the best version of myself, and it only gets better from here.

"Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities."
-Dr Seuss