Unauthorized

There’s a story you’re afraid to tell, of nuance you’ve conquered at last and feel you might cede in the telling, that when you’re a scared little autistic kid, and your parents make it clear that being gay is monstrous, let alone being trans (if you even know the word), sometimes you simply take up the burden you feel obliged to bear. You feel a loss as you age out of companionship with your sisters’ friends, but accept it as a fact of life (you must make your own); you delight in the upper range of your voice and mourn its imminent—inexorable—deepening; you feel, not so much unwelcome in female spaces, as undeserving of admission, unauthorized. As you enter puberty, you feel ashamed not only of your attraction to other boys (for which you know you should) but also to girls (but you never understand), and with that shame you feel as though your last ties to the world of women have been cut, and the scissors are in your hand. You don’t walk around telling yourself, “I’m a girl,” because it implies belonging, and you know you don’t belong. But there’s a voice somewhere saying it anyway, and each time it repeats you forget the last, dismiss it. You make the friends you feel you are allowed, boys, with whom much attraction can be recoded as identification, and become terrified not of girls, but of yourself around them, reinterpreting any identification as uncontrollable desire. You become at once the monster at the gate and the keeper of the keys, layering onto your repressed dysphoria something both like and unlike it, a new myth to one day be reexamined, reevaluated, reconstructed. And you wonder, in telling the story, whether you will ever let yourself belong, whether you, on your own, even can.