"Are you gonna graduate this year, Dani?"
"Yes." I don't know why I spend time with Tammy, but I do. I must get something out of it.
"Izzat why you always be goin' to summer school?"
She always spoke like that; I could too, but didn't. There was no point in sounding uneducated. In Tammy it was just pretence, and besides, it annoyed adults.
"An' you folks don't make you go?"
I never understood why she talked like she was from the inner city. She was from Troy, just over the border, and grew up on a farm. But she imitated the speech patterns and mannerisms of the black girls from East St. Louis, shaking her head and shoulders when she spoke.
"No, Tammy, they don't make me go."
"Girl," Tammy rolled her eyes and made an exaggerated display of her hands, "you crazy."
There was that word again. She knew what I was, and about what happened in court.
She knew I wasn't a girl.
Most of my peers knew by now. Only, Tammy was one of the few peers I could still call a friend. Maybe that was why I was still her friend; she was still mine.
"Sorry," she apologized and sat on her hands. "You wanna go to the mall and get some ciggies?"
"You know I don't smoke."
Why are kids my own age always so immature? Don't they have plans? Didn't they know they'd have to work for their dreams?
"We could watch them ghetto boys play basketball."
"You know I don't date boys."
Tammy jumped off the stone wall and gave me a long, appraising look.
"What's wrong witchoo, girl? Don't you do nothin' fun?"
I thought about it, but couldn't find a good answer. Nothing I did in my spare time would ever be considered 'fun'. Get good grades, get into a good university—that was the plan. After college, I'd get a good job and then...and then what?
I'd known for a few years now that my path wouldn't intersect with those of my friends, but I'd never thought about what happened after I graduated. I'd be done with school and then what?
My peers would all get married, have kids, grow old together, but I never would. I guess I'd be alone for ever. Not that I had anything against companionship. But nobody was willing to build a relationship with someone like me.
Some of my friends feel bad for me, but I don't, at least not about the sex part. I just don't see people like that. I love my family, and like my friends, but I've never had a romantic thought in my life.
When my boy friends started noticing my girl friends, I had no idea what they were on about or why. Not because it was 'icky' but because I just didn't feel any interest.
Then boys started noticing me, and it was bad. I kissed a boy once, to see what it was like, but it was revolting. So I kissed a girl and it was exactly the same. It was all gross, and don't get me started about private parts.
Now they all thought I was frigid, or gay, or some kind of a freak. It doesn't matter what I am, because I'm not one of them; I'm not even like them.
This past summer, I went to get my license. The trooper administering the test was an ass—giving me all this 'little lady' business and opening doors for me; when I caught him staring at my butt, I broke.
I couldn't take it anymore, so struck back in my own way. I drew my own box on the form, marked it 'NOYDB' and checked it. They wouldn't even let me take the test.
Then they wouldn't refund my money; I was livid.
I'd be damned if I backed down, not after that; shots had been fired and war was about to be declared. I'm an American, and I have rights.
My folks supported me, each in their own way—Daddy said I had to stand up for myself, and Mother gave me the card of a senior partner at her firm, even though I suspect she thought all this attention was unbecoming for a young lady.
I had saved nearly six hundred dollars for a down payment on a car, but there was no use in buying one if I couldn't drive it.
So I decided to sue the DOT and force them to let me take the test without having to disclose my gender. Sex didn't have anything to do with driving anyway.
But it turned out to be more complicated than that. I went downtown to Boss & Boss, and met Mr. Irving Boss.
He laid it out on the table: first of all it was expensive, and second, I had to have my parents' permission; it would be a long-shot even then, as state law mandated sex identification on government-issued IDs, and AMA regulations demanded a that doctor determine the sex of any newborns.
Expensive I could overcome—Mother agreed to supply the retainer and Daddy said he'd pay half of what was left—and I already had their permission.
So I took them to court and the judge told me that driving was a privilege and asked 'why didn't I act like a lady?' He dismissed my case and ordered me to see a shrink, and now everyone knew about me but nobody understood: I don't fit in to a world of Tab A's and Slot B's.
I don't have a sex, and I don't care. I used to think I was a girl, but I never developed like one. My breasts never got any bigger, and I never had the cramps.
I never bled like my girl friends and am perfectly happy about that. That was the thing that was hardest for them to understand.
Mostly, the people who knew treated me with sympathy and pity, like there was something wrong with me. I've seen them all, slack-jawed and drooling over 'hard bodies'. They rutted like farm animals—sometimes you could even smell it.
I'm not like that. My brains last all month.
But when I think about it, I wonder if I'm just as much a part of the problem as anyone else. How often do I refer to myself as a girl, even in thought? I know this an artifact of English, not my brain making the distinction, but it still makes communicating my frustrations difficult.
Not all languages are like that; even Old English was better than the modern. Some girls I know object to certain words—chairman, human, even woman—but what they fail to understand is that -man in Old English means 'person.' Mankind clearly meant all people, but you couldn't have told them that.
I tried, but was shunned for my effort. The girls considered it old fashioned and the boys thought I shouldn't have any opinion at all.