Wednesday, September 10, 2008

who was lee?

I peered into the mirror, finishing putting on my make-up. I was in the bathhouse of the campground. A large room divided by old, crumbling walls and exposed pipes. Four showers on one wall and four toilet stalls on the other. I stood in the middle of the room, leaning over the sink, applying my mascara in the reflection of the dingy mirror.

I did not take much notice of the the little person as she entered the bathhouse and into the stall. I was busy with my make-up. The stall door opened and out flew this little person towards the sink to wash those little hands. There was a slight problem with reaching the faucet and I asked if I could help. The response was nothing like I expected.

"I am a boy!" she exclaimed.
"Really," I said, in my placating voice.
"Yes, I am a boy. My mom made me come into the girl's bathroom."

I took a quick mental note of what this little person looked like. Generic clothing that tended to look more female than male. A medium length ponytail. A typical child's face - no tale-tell signs of boy or girl.

"What is your name?" I asked, hoping that this would be a giveaway.
"Lee. And I'm an Indian." was her (his?) reply. No help there.
"Oh, nice to meet you Lee. I like your pants." They were the one piece of clothing that looked most like it came out of a little girl's closet.
"I don't. My mom makes me wear them and she makes me go into the girl's bathroom."
"Oh," was the only thing I could come up with at this point.

He/She finished washing those little hands, without any help. Then dried them, threw the paper in the trash, and said, "good bye." And that was that.

I thought about Lee for the rest of the day and ever since. Was Lee a girl or boy? Her family were not part of our group, but I did see her mom and dad around the campground. Her dad looked to be full-blooded Native American. He had a long ponytail.

She could have been a girl who wanted to be a boy or knew that her dad wanted a boy, so much that she lived her days as such. He could have been a boy who's mom wanted him to be a girl and dressed him and directed him as such. He/She could biologically be both male and female. There's a name for this; Hermaphrodite. And then at birth, the doctor has to make a decision on a gender and picks one as a best guess (assigned gender). Or she could be a little boy trapped in a girls body. Also known as Gender Identity Disorder (GID) or Gender Dysphoria.

I will never know the answer to who Lee was. I think I will always wonder. If it's the first answer I listed above, there's not much harm and I'm sure Lee will grow out of it and could go on to become her school's homecoming queen. But if the answer is any of the other three, it makes me sad. It makes me wonder what his or her life is going to look like as he or she grows older. What hardships will he or she face and have to overcome?

It makes me reflect on how many times we look at someone and think we know who they are, when we may not have a clue.

Lee was number 19/365 on my x365 project.

5 comments:

Melissa said...

I remember a lady telling a group one time that we will NEVER know all of another person's story. There are always parts that we won't discover. And for that reason, we should never judge that person... it was an interesting thought to me.

Barb said...

What a curious experience! I like Melissa's thoughts. I think most of us have met someone who raised similar questions.

Lee's part of the conversation is certainly thought provoking.

Pen of Jen said...

I think that this is an interesting thing that you are doing. I am with you on this little one. #19 will stick with you I am sure.

Janice said...

Very interesting. I would have tried to find a way to speak to the family to find out more about Lee. Now you have me thinking.

Mam said...

whew! Great post. I guess I didn't realize you had such literary ability. This is very poignant.
Nancy