Chapter 1. When you wish upon a star.
When I was little, I'm not sure how old, young enough not to understand the literal and figurative ins and outs of being female, I wished I was like my sister, Betsy. She was my twin. Obviously, not identical. Funny how you call boy and girl twins fraternal. Maybe if you called them sororital, I wouldn't be writing this story. Attitudes would have been different. But in those days, boys were boys, girls were girls and otherwise you were a homosexual. A perfectly acceptable term then. Gay meant happy. Funny how times change. Thinking back, it wasn't that I wanted to be Betsy. She was outgoing, always smiling and giggling, with lots of girlfriends coming over to play Barbies with her or have sleep overs. I was quiet and shy. I liked books. Pinocchio was one of my favorites. Actually, not the story. Monstro the whale and the fox who didn't want him to go to school, I didn't like them. I didn't want my family to be swallowed up and I wanted to go to school. So, if I wanted to go to school, then I probably wasn't in school yet. Or not. I'm not sure. It doesn't really matter. The part I liked was when Pinocchio wishes on a star and the Blue Fairy comes down to turn him into a real boy. I believed in her. As hard as I wished and as sincerely as I promised to be a good girl, every morning I woke up the same as I went to sleep.
I'm not sure what I expected to happen. During the night she, the Blue Fairy, would wave her wand and my room would change. Not me. Pinocchio looked the same, sort of. He just was real, not pretend. That's what I wanted, to be treated by my parents and Betsy and her friends as a girl, Donna. My name was Donald and I wasn't very creative. The fairy tale princesses always had strange names, like Cinderella or Rapunzel, and Mom only read those to Betsy. I got Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk. Children who stole from adults and then killed them. Although Snow White was homicidal too. Actually, she snoozed while seven little guys and a posse of enraged forest animals did the dirty work. No wonder I was a confused child. Sorry, back to my story. My white cotton underpants, undershirts and socks would magically turn into pastel nylon panties, Betsy got a set of day of the week panties for her birthday, camisoles with little bows, lacy slips with big full petticoats, in those days girls wore skirts and dresses, they only wore pants underneath them in the winter, tights and ankle socks with ruffles and patent leather shoes with a little strap. Oh, and, of course the special Barbie nightgown she wore for her sleepovers. She wore pajamas otherwise, pink with white ruffles around the wrists and legs. Mine had cars and trucks. I made a fuss about going to the barber too. I wanted long hair that I could braid into pigtails. "My goodness, Donny" Mom would cajole me, "people will mistake you for Betsy's sister. Do you want them to tease you about being a girl?" Yes to the first please. No to the second. That's where the Blue Fairy came in.
Chapter 2. It doesn't matter who you are.
It took me a while to realize that the Blue Fairy discriminated against real children. If I was going to be a girl, I would have to take matters, meaning wardrobe, into my own hands. As far as I could tell, that was what distinguished between boys and girls. My plan wasn't very sophisticated. At our age we outgrew our clothes quickly. I was too young to be left at home, so Mom took me with her when she went shopping with Betsy. I'd just tag along as they browsed through racks of pretty clothes, but Mom couldn't leave me when they went into the dressing room and I saw Betsy in her underwear at home, so I got to watch as she tried things on, modeling a dress for Mom's approval or twirling around to flair out a skirt. Finally, one shopping trip I got up my courage. As Mom and Betsy were gushing over a pretty Easter dress, I still remember it was white organza, sleeveless, peachy pink with big beige and cream flowers under a sheer layer and a white belt that tied in the back with a big bow. Mom held it up and measured it against her to check the size. It was too much. "Me too."
Mom turned her attention to me. "What did you say, Sweetie, sorry, I didn't hear you."
"I want one too."
"I'm sorry honey. Just a little while longer, then we can shop for you," Mom placated me. Her confusion was understandable. I'm not sure that transgendered was even a word back then. Well, no, it's probably always been a word. Just not one that was in most people's vocabulary. I've seen some of the old magazines and they called men who dressed as women female mimics. Gay men who liked to cross-dress. Funny how times change.
"I want a dress like Betsy," I clarified.
"Mom, tell Donny to stop. He's being silly," Betsy dismissed me. "I want to try it on, please, come on, please," she persisted, tugging on Mom's arm. Maybe Betsy didn't want anyone to know that we were going to be real twins. More likely she was happy to get all of the attention and all of the compliments as the only girl in the family. So much for the storied sympathetic sister. Mom took two of the dresses. I followed them into the dressing room in eager anticipation, Betsy took off her blouse and skirt. I looked expectantly at Mom. She unzipped the back and lifted the dress over Betsy's head, settling it on her shoulders and zipping it up. She fussed with the skirt and studied the top. "Turn around." Betsy spun. "Stop. I'm not sure. You might need the next size." I watched with disappointment as she tried on the other dress. I wanted that dress more than anything. As I followed them through the forbidden girls department, she and Mom completed their shopping with a pair of cream colored tights that matched the flowers. Mom took my hand. On the way out, we stopped at the shoe store to find white flats and an accessory shop for a pair of barrettes with rhinestone hearts. On Easter, Betsy and her friends looked like angels with their hair done up and nail polish. I got a blue and white striped tie to complement my ensemble of khaki pants and a white shirt.
Plan A having failed, actually plan B, since plan A was the recalcitrant Blue Fairy, I proceeded to plan C, or I would have, if I could have come up with one. Okay, I know what you're thinking. Why didn't I dress up in my sister's clothes or pilfer panties from the laundry basket. I've read the stories too about caught with consequences and the resulting petticoat punishment. Those boys must have been braver than me. Than I? At best, Betsy would have noticed that one day of the week was missing and I would have had to give it back with some lame excuse for my panty raid. The idea of my actually wanting to wear them probably would not have occurred to them. If I did get caught wearing them, in addition to my sister's delight in taunting me, it would have resulted in a scolding from Mom, a spanking from Dad and a dire parental threat of severe consequences, perhaps a lifetime of confinement to my room, a particularly dreaded punishment in the days before video games and the internet, if I ever did it again. Whatever were the consequences for coopting the Blue Fairy's magic transformation, I had no intention of finding out.
As I got older and applied more mature logic, it occurred to me that, like Pinocchio before the Blue Fairy grants his wish, I had to earn the right to my reward. He saved his whole family. Well, his father and a cat and a goldfish. We didn't have either. Well no, we had a father. We didn't have pets. I had a goldfish once. I got it on a class trip to the aquarium and I named her, as far as anyone can tell about a goldfish's gender, lucky fish, Cleo. Mom was allergic to cats. Sorry about reminiscing. So, anyway, since the chances of my saving my family, sans pets, from the digestive tract of a large marine mammal was minimal, and I was already a good boy for lack of a companion to lead me astray, I decided that, like Pinnochio, I needed to be a good girl before I could become a real girl. By then my reliance on the Blue Fairy had waned, but preparing for my transformation, however it came about, because I knew it would someday, made sense. I think I was about seven or eight, maybe nine, when I decided to shadow Betsy. Unfortunately, she was less than appreciative about my attention. I would go into her room when Mom was brushing her hair or perusing her wardrobe.
"Donny is being weird again, Mom. Make him go away."
"Donny, is there something you want?"
Well, yes, I want to be a girl. "No, I was just hanging out."
"We're busy right now, Honey. Why don't you watch TV."
It went the same with all of my other efforts to infiltrate Betsy's mother daughter relationship. Cooking, shopping, pigtails, braids and buns, did I mention she got to take ballet lessons, wear clingy leotards, tights, little chiffon skirts and, for the recitals, a tutu, mani's, and most important, watching Mom get dressed, an opportunity to be indoctrinated into the intricacies of being a 'big girl.' Mom wore bras, stockings and high heels, those coveted items, along with makeup, of which little girls and boys who would emulate them dream. I'm not even sure what letter of the alphabet my plan was up to. The best I could do was to learn fashion from the Sears and JC Penny catalogs which came at the holidays and I made off with thereafter, disguising my true purpose as an interest in model trains. I was an authority on panties, petticoats, party dresses and American Flyer. The hardest part was controlling myself when we went shopping for Betsy's seasonal wardrobe. Mercifully, or not, depending on your perspective, her modesty finally excluded me from the dressing room.
"Donny, would you please sit out here like a good boy and hold our pocketbooks. Okay?" Small consolation for exemplary behavior. Sitting there, I imagined that it was the kind of good deed that deserved a magical reward, but no. And so it went. Where was the Blue Fairy when I needed her?
Chapter 3. Your Dreams Come True.
It took me fifty years to realize that Pinocchio wasn't about getting your wish. It was about being true to your nature. When the puppet stops letting others pull his strings and acts like a real boy, he becomes one. The Blue Fairy's magic did work. It just took a lot longer than I expected, because the fair folk see the big picture. I'm who I was born and a whole generation of children now can express their true gender identity. So, thank you Blue Fairy. I take back all of those things I said about you and, my apologies, but I couldn't wait for your transformative magic. I had a surgeon do my nose job and the genital reconstruction. Love, Donna.
Author's Note: For my next story I was thinking about Maleficent. Not about a transgendered princess. I did one of those. (The Prince Bride, hint, hint). I just have this picture in my mind of Angelina Jolie waving her hand with a glitter of dust and commanding, "Into a girl." Mmmm, if only.
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