March 20, 2011


Katy, age 1
Des Moines, IA (1957)

This photo shows me on my first birthday. My Great Aunt Dee was trying to indoctrinate me into the joys of being a girl. Even back then, I was dubious.

I knew I was different from others at a very early age. By the time I was 3, I was obsessed with gender. I would puzzle out who was a boy and who was a girl, and try to figure out where I fit in.

In the 1950's, gender roles were very clearly defined, and I didn't feel comfortable wearing dresses and doing girly things. But I didn't really want to be a boy, either. I figured there must be a 3rd gender that was half-boy and half-girl, and that's what I was.

I was always looking for others like me - and I found them. I was fascinated by a woman I once saw who smoked a pipe. She was one of us. I adored Mary Martin in the role of "Peter Pan." She was one of us, too.

But I found my true kindred spirit in a children's book my mother used to read to me. It was the character Christopher Robin in A.A. Milne's Winnie The Pooh series. In my 3-year old mind, he was the quintessential 3rd gender.

Plus he had two names: Christopher was a boy's name, and Robin was a girl's name. The illustrations showed him with long, curly hair and dressed in what looked to me like girl's clothes. He also wore Mary Jane shoes, just like the ones
I wore to Sunday school. And yet in the book, Christopher Robin was always referred to as "he."

Whenever my mother read one of the books to me, I'd ask:

"Is Christopher Robin a boy or a girl?"

"A boy," she'd respond
"Then why does he look like a girl?" I'd ask

I was hoping that this time she'd tell me he was both boy and girl.
But she never said that. She always had the same reply:

"Because he's from England."

It wasn't quite the answer I had wanted. But it at least gave me hope, that somewhere there was a place where I could find people that were like me.

Also check out "My First Gay Crush Blog"


Unknown said...

K.T. Is there more? A great beginning to "your" story although it made me feel a little sad. I've heard that you're an accomplished writer of children's books, I believe? But I want to read more about you. Are you happy being who you are?

Library Lynn said...

Hi KT!

I have heard the Christopher Robin story before,a nd it never ceases to make me smile!

Glad you didn't take to dolls...except Emily, of course.


Anonymous said...

Loooove the zChristipher robin bit