Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On Toys and Stereotypes

"When I grow up,
I'll be stable.
When I grow up,
I'll turn the tables."
 -- Garbage, When I Grow Up

The video in the previous post got me thinking about my own childhood.

Listening to other trans women's stories, there are a lot of themes that come up time and time again. One of those is that many knew from a very young age that they were female. That they always wanted to play with dolls. That they hated their genitalia. That they just... knew.

To some extent, I envy those people, because I had no idea.

Some of my earliest memories are of toys, but not dolls. Oh sure, we had a Teddy Ruxpin. I had a stuffed rabbit pillow that I took everywhere for a while. My sisters had gobs of stuffed animals, My Little Ponies, and Cabbage Patch dolls, which were certainly interesting, but I was drawn to something else completely.

I liked Domino Rally, Legos, K'Nex, and Lincoln Logs. I liked to make things, I liked to invent. I liked Intellivisions and computers and Game Boys. I taught myself to program text adventures in qbasic when I was 9, a dot matrix printer is one of my favorite sounds, and I still ask for Lego sets for Christmas and Birthdays.

It took me a long time to realize and accept it, but these things do not mean that I must be male. Sure, for many women-- trans or not-- playing with dolls was an expression of their girlhood, but many other women played with Legos. And they are still women.

I've always had gender issues swirling around in my brain, but as a little kid, I don't think I fully grasped the meanings and consequences of gender, let alone how it would affect me in the years ahead. As I started to realize the implications of the box I'd been placed in, my gut reaction was to prove to myself, and to others, that the boxes didn't exist.

I've spent so much time and energy throughout my life trying to break down stereotypes, trying to show people that gender is not what they think it is, that I couldn't see the forest for the trees. The truth is that nobody fits into the boxes of "male," "female," or "in-between," but that doesn't stop the average person from staking a claim wherever they damn well please. It wasn't until I finally admitted to myself that the boxes do exist, and that I had a right to stake my own claim wherever I wanted, that I saw where I fit in, and where I would be happiest.

Maybe if I had wanted to play with dolls, or wear dresses when I was little, I would've figured it out earlier. In the end though, I think I'm glad that I didn't. I certainly wish I had the opportunity to undo my first puberty, but I know that I would not have been ready to handle this any time before now, and I don't think I would love and appreciate being a woman nearly as much as I do today.

So now I'm curious; what were your favorite toys when you were little?


  1. Ooooo.. Domino Rally! I forgot that one. Dudley, the stuffed bunny, right?
    I love buying Legos for Chayton, cause it's like more for me too. =D

    My favorite toys... hmm.. my teddy bear, Big Mamma. My doll house Grandpa & Grandma made me. I was always mixed between yours and Misti's toys. lol

    Oh, and another favorite toy - You, stuffing you in the Jeffery Giraffe toy box.. rolling you down the hill at the elemetary school in the Humpty Dumpty toy box... hehehehe

  2. The favorite toy of my childhood has to have been my riding lawn mower. My dad had removed the deck. I used to drive it around the fields that surrounded my parents shop.

    I never had a barbie but I have great memories and stories that will be passed down.

  3. Nintendo! :D I liked my Barbies too, sometimes. And Bunny. I lessthanthree Bunny.

  4. I played with Barbies, Cabbage Patch dolls, My Little Pony, Legos, Muscle Men, GI Joe, He-Man (Moss-Man was my favorite but he was slimy and never the same after we took him in the bath)...
    I had only sisters at my dads house and a brother at my moms so there were different playmates depending. I'm definitely a straight woman, but I LOVED playing with boy toys!

  5. I had a Strawberry Shortcake from a garage sale that had a missing shoe. My parents told other kids not to bring gifts to my birthdays because Australia was in a recession and nobody could afford it. I had a raggedy Ann, I guess we had a few stuffed animals, some Lego, video games when we were older. That's about it.

  6. I have a distinct memory of loving matchbox cars when I was little. That is, until the neighbor boy told me that I couldn't play with them and took them home. After that I loved playing with my friends and Barbies. Barbie was the amazing woman who could do anything. She could work a job, keep her house clean, and raise two children without Ken (because honestly, we never had enough Kens to go around). Oh, and playing school never got old!

    What a fun topic, Beeps! So many memories