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"cuando tu seas madre...."

I remember being no more than 7 years old (we hadn't left Europe yet) and having my mother scold my disobedience by saying:

“When you are a mother you can do as you like. But right now I am the mother”

Those words were at once confusing, embarrassing, enraging and exhilarating. For I was beginning to slowly understand that there was something not quite right with my gender identity. The words, sometimes phrased slightly differently, would reappear on a number of occasions and are now permanently seared in my memory as was my scolding upon being discovered rattling around in her shoes.

Today she will tell me honestly say that she has no recollection of it and I believe her, but for me they had a permanent impact.

You became used to the disjointedness after a while and it became part of a reality which was allowed to express itself when no one is home and you could let the pressure out for a short while. Upon the family's return a sister might ask if you’ve been wearing lipstick and you recover by saying it was red candy; aren't we the clever one.

The impact of statements like my mother's don’t make you transgender but they served as signposts that hinted at something being amiss and only in hindsight did we recognize their significance. We weren’t prepared to understand what those feelings meant during those years but we would in time.

For those of us who are old enough, all we knew back then was that we were perfectly alone in our uniqueness.


  1. I was sure I was the only one that had these feelings. Must keep it a secret!

  2. Is it also possible that you have given too much weight to what may have been an off-the-cuff remark? It is so easy to give the words of others more significance than they intended. I know I have often fallen into this trap. An edgy remark becomes a slash and burn criticism. A lame attempt at humor falls completely flat and wounds rather than supplying levity. Obviously I don't know your mum, her personality, her manners of speech, etc., and you do, perhaps better than anyone. All I am saying (in more words than are required) is that it might not have been intended as a significant signpost of things to come.

    1. The words stayed with me because they resonated at the source of what would be my dilemma for years to come: How to grapple with this incongruity.

  3. You nail it. I had the same experience.


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