Would You Still Love Me If I Were a Boy?

I remember the night I told my mom I wasn’t exactly a girl. I was so worried about telling her. I can’t talk to my parents about regular things much less something this close to my heart. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears. I considered not telling her. I considered running back to my room, living in the dark for the rest of my life. I have some stress issues, which helpfully decided to show up; my body felt like it was locking up. I was feigning tears. I finally brought up enough courage, or stupidity, to tell her. I blurted out my question, “Would you still love me if I were a boy?”

I seriously almost cried right then. I almost let the powerful waterfall of sadness consume me. Time seemed to freeze. She said she would love me no matter who I was, and we left the conversation at that. The next night we had a little follow-up talk. I don’t remember what was said, but I do remember crying. But that night I felt peaceful; peace seemed to flow over me. But at the same time, brewing behind that sense of peace, there was also fear.

The second time I told somebody was in a test essay in fifth grade. I wrote about how life is a maze and everybody has their own challenges. I put my “challenge” at the end. What made me nervous about the essay was that one of my classmates had to proofread my essay. After my classmate finished reading, he got a kind of panicked look on his face, told me my essay was fine, and almost ran off.

Later that day my teacher, Ms. Dufour, came up to me while we were walking on the track and said, “You can come talk to me if you ever need any help.” I was very grateful for these words, and she was the first person to call me brave.

I realize some people are hated for being transgender or gay or anything else. Other people are afraid to tell their own parents these things about themselves. And when I hear about people being hated for something they cannot control, it makes me furious.

Nelson Mandela once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

I don’t know how many people have had to grow up different from the norm, oppressed like grass under a heavy snowfall. But grass will spring back up, stronger, smarter, and kinder. I don’t know how many people have been hurt or died because of something about themselves that they could not control. But I do know that I am fortunate to grow up with people who love me with no end, no matter who I am. For what I am some have been called horrible slurs, but I have been called brave. I do not think I am brave. The oppressed are brave; they rise again like grass after you step on them. Why can’t we be at peace? Why can’t the world be at peace?

Read more: Student Voices Project 2018

4 thoughts on “Would You Still Love Me If I Were a Boy?

  1. Dear Sawyer,
    Thank you for your brave piece on a subject which touches many of us, even if we don’t acknowledge it openly.
    We are all conditioned to see our gender as something fixed at birth and which we need to conform to. In my experience, many of us don’t fit neatly into one of the two boxes, and spend our lives trying to adjust the parts of ourself which don’t fit with the gender stereotypes. Your situation goes further than most, I suspect, but as a “heterosexual” man I have struggled most of my life with the feeling in some situations that I would have fitted better as a woman. I think that we have a freedom in our age to explore who we are spiritually which people in other times and ages had to a much lesser extent. Nonetheless, society still likes to put us into boxes, and if the boxes don’t fit then that creates tension and friction.
    We are the ones who (eventually) change the shape of the boxes or remove them altogether, as Nelson Mandela succeeded in doing. As a child, he was one of my great heroes – one who stood for the oppressed at such great personal loss.
    Do get in touch if you would like – I would like to share more and hear more of your story.
    In Friendship,

  2. Sawyer, you are not only brave, you are the voice of so many young people who have felt afraid to pronounce their true selves. My child is a trans male, age 17 and still in high school. Charlie is walking a difficult path, but is deeply loved by our family, and supported by Friends Meeting here in Rhode Island. Still, there are good days and rough days, and so much more to come. Thank you for sharing your story. Much love and courage to you!

  3. Thank you for sharing this heartfelt, inspiring essay! Thank you, Sawyer, for writing it!

  4. I think Sawyer Beveridge has been brave.
    Brave people may fear, or cry, like anyone else may. But what makes a person brave is do go ahead and do the right thing even with great fear.

    This story starts almost the same as one printed in The New York Times in the last couple of days, as one of six winning essays selected to illustrate how powerfully, and how differently, people feel about Mothers’ Day. It was about facing challenges with one’s mother and moving on successfully. So far, Sawyer’s story seems like a happier one – and I hope it continues to be!

    So Sawyer is not alone. I know of another kid 10 years ago at a Friends school who faced a similar situation. The right way for him and everyone around him to handle it was a Quakerly way – keeping it simple, upholding equality even when that’s hard, defusing conflicts before they erupt, everybody speaking their personal truth, and giving priority to the community and to serving one another.

    Each situation has its own challenges, and the beauty is in helping each person’s unique light shine bravely. When that happens, everyone involved benefits and everyone who knows them gets richer in wisdom and love.

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