How did I end up this way? Well, my story started when I had just started grade seven, and my voice cracked. In what seemed like no time at all, I went from having the voice of a small kid, to having the voice of a man, or at least someone who would very soon be one.
Afterward, I got treated very differently from before. Teachers called on me more often in class, older kids seemed to have more respect for my opinions, and when I answered the phone at home, strangers would often mistake me for my dad.
I also found out I could now do a passable imitation of our vice-principal, and more than once I made my classmates jump before they realized he wasnt the one chewing them out for whatever they were doing.
One of my classmates suggested I sneak into the office and use that impression to make an announcement over the P.A., maybe say the students all deserved ice cream or a day off or something, but I was a good kid, who mostly stayed on the right side of trouble, so nothing came of that suggestion.
It was like I had gotten an express ticket to manhood, and I loved it.
I was rather proud of my new voice, and like the Good Book says, Pride goes before a fall, so maybe I had it coming to me. One day I found myself hoarse and barely able to say anything. My mom and dad took me to the doctor, and he said it was probably tonsillitis, which meant two things.
An operation, and then as much Ice cream as I could eat.
So I lay on the bed and counted backward, and fell asleep, and when I woke up, I saw my mom and dad sitting by my bedside with very worried looks on their faces.
I croaked out “Ice cream?”
My mom gave me the biggest hug ever, and after feeding me some soft ice cream, she buzzed the doctor, who came in to take a look at me.
I was not sure I liked the expression on his face. He had a serious, worried look that made me wonder what went wrong, and then I found out.
It turned out I had a little bit more than just a simple case of tonsillitis. That a large growth had actually formed on my vocal cords, which maybe explained why my voice had dropped so much, so fast.
Apparently, they caught it in the nick of time, and felt sure I would recover fully but ...
He left me hanging for a long time, and then finally told me they wouldnt know how much damage was actually done to my voice until I fully recovered from the surgery, but that I would have to be prepared for it to sound very different thereafter.
It took nearly a week, but I finally found out exactly how much different my voice was.
I no longer sounded like a man.
I didnt really even sound like a boy.
I sounded like a girl.
I found myself startled at the change whenever I spoke, and soon found excuses to say as little as possible.
I went back to school, and learned that without my deep voice, I got treated very differently by my classmates and teachers but a lot of that was probably my own fault. Being reluctant to speak at all, I didnt get called on in class anymore, I didnt get into discussions with the other kids, and unless they knew it was me, most people who heard me assumed I was a girl.
My mom and my dad tried to keep me talking, any way they could. My dad made me be his “receptionist” at home, taking the calls for his real estate business, but those were even worse for me. After being called “miss” on the phone over and over again, I’d go to my room and cry, and sulk a bit too.
But they refused to let me throw a pity party for myself, and kept the pressure on me to keep speaking.
I was lucky to be alive, they reminded me, and in time, my voice might improve, but that meant I had to keep using it.
Reluctantly, I agreed, and finally it got to the point where I would be at least carry on a conversation. Slowly, I got used to it, bit by bit.
I even found an upside. A couple of girls from my school had learned about how I had almost died, and they made a point of trying to include me in whatever they were doing, so I wouldnt just fade and let life pass me by, as they put it.
For a while, I thought that one or the other might decide to fall for me and be my girlfriend, but they made it clear in a kind way that they saw me as family, not as the kind of person they would date.
And surprisingly, it didnt take me long to feel the same about them. They were my sisters in heart and soul, and soon I was listening to them talk about boyfriends and sometimes even offered advice. I even found that I often imitated their way of talking without even realizing it, making me seem even more girly than before.
This lead to some comments, some kind and some less so, about me changing teams and becoming a girl, but my friends protected me from the worst of it, and to their credit, never pushed me to dress up as a girl, not even as a gag or for Halloween.
Years slowly past, and having found some good friends, I managed to stay pretty grounded through my junior and senior high school years. The only bad thing was a lack of dates, as most girls just assumed I was gay, and so I found myself going stag to dances and other activities whenever my girlfriends had dates.
Until one of my girlfriends introduced me to Mary, and things got better. With her help, I learned that I didnt have to be either all butch or turn into a sissy or even try to be a girl, If I didnt want to.
That I could just be me, and that was enough.
So that’s my story, and I’m proud to share it with all of you on this, our graduation day. And let me close by saying that if you fall outside the gender norms, there’s hope. With a little hard work, a little luck, and a good support system you can not only make it through school and beyond, but you can be a success at it.
Good luck to us all, and here is to a better future.
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