I began my ‘feminine protesting’ as far back as I can remember – at least as far back as when I was three years old. A child of three comprehends something is seriously wrong yet lacks the full adult grammar to express their sentiments.
I knew something was wrong with my body. My doctors could not convince me that my parts were male. Conversely, I could not convince them that my parts were female.
Our family frequently visited with the other family relatives who resided at our community since the 1950s.
I frequently went to their bathroom first thing when we went to their home. There in their bathroom, I put on the make-up of their daughters (about 10 years older than me).
‘Oh, Nickie, don’t you look cute’, was their comment seeing me in their daughters’ make-up – face powder, rouge, lipstick.
I would join these older female cousins in their bedroom. Gail, Carol, and Bev brought Kathy and me in and we all listened to records and did make-up. Sometimes Kathy, Bev, and I made ‘trouble’ jumping on Jack’s bed – ‘Jack’s trampoline’. Remember that Kathy, Bev?
So, Cousin Bev, don’t tell me that you and your family had no idea about my inclination. You all knew since at least 1959.
I am a girl, I want to socialise with other girls and do what they do. I ‘played house’ with Kathy despite parental disapproval. I frequently played with the neighbour girls when I was a younger child – including the twin girls around the corner where we resided, again despite parental disapproval.
One of the few boy friends I had during my childhood was the son of my mom’s friend Arlene. I do not recall his name. I asked my mom about him; she refused to talk to me and refused to tell me where to find him. If you are that Arlene’s son – about age 59 nowadays – this is me looking for you.
My first best friends at school were Mary Lou (2nd Grade), Dawn (3rd Grade and 4th Grade), Debbie (‘Buggy!’) (5th Grade), and Janine (7th Grade and 8th Grade). We could not play together because our Catholic school segregated the boys from the girls during recess and lunch break. I settled for playing softball with the boys.
Kathy began to shoo me away as we grew up; she hated me as a ‘tag along’.
I hated my boy’s clothes. I’m a girl; I should wear clothes that girls wear. I wore Kathy’s clothes because my parents refused to buy girl’s clothes for me. When my parents disciplined me, it was for taking Kathy’s clothes without her permission (fair enough), not for wearing them (a lost signal). Oddly, I had no clean white shirt to wear for my Catholic First Communion; my grandmother gave one of Kathy’s blouses to me to wear that day.
Our parents went through a bitter divorce (1962). Courts granted our mother sole custody of Kathy and me as was routine for that time for children of divorced parents; it mattered little to the court that our mom tried killing us children at least a handfull of times. Our dad petitioned the court for custody change; the court granted that change (Summer 1963).
I explored my prospective female name throughout my childhood.
One Saturday morning as my mom cooked breakfast during visitation at her home (1965), I commented on the name ‘Sharon’. My mom’s only immediate reply was to belittle me, ‘Sharon is a girl’s name’. She had no clue what I meant. I covered my tracks and replied to her that I was merely talking about names in general – that it held a nice sound.
I asked my mom years later if she ever recalled our conversation from that Saturday morning; it was no surprise that she told me that she had no memory of it. She thought nothing of our conversation that was vitally important to me. There is a lesson for parents: You must listen to your children. They are telling you vital clues about their innermost thoughts. They need you.
I might not have settled on Sharon in 1965; I surely affirmed it by 1969 when I was age 13.
I experience premonition ‘deja vu’ dreams; violence and threats of my demise are common – a reflection of home life experiences.
I had a nightmare about a vicious crime – beatings, stabbings, murder (Summer 1969); one of the deceased in my dream was named Sharon. My original reaction to this dream was that it reflected my home violence and that the death of Sharon might be my parents either suppressing my spirit or (worse) killing me.
News came a few weeks later that there was a mass murder – my body shook and went white. Sharon Tate was among the deceased. I had not heard of her until that day. Now I knew that I would hold the name Sharon in her honour; that is when I took the name Sharon.
My life has been filled with both the good and the bad all this world had to provide to me – including domestic and foreign travel.
My dad was a drafter for an aerospace company. He later became a mathematics school teacher; as such, he sought employment during Summer months.
- We vacationed at Guyamas, Mexico (1965): there was a mass police search when my dad reported my disappearance as a runaway child following another feminine protesting incident.
- We lived with relatives at New Jersey (1967): I was a miserable
failure at several suicide attempts.
- We lived at an Idaho dairy farm (1968): I helpt care for the cows and horses; I hiked the Grand Tetons.
- We lived at Grambling, Louisiana (1969): I met many of the famous athletes who played for Grambling College; my dad, Kathy, and I toured Civil War historic sites during that Summer; we got caught in Hurricane Camille.
- We lived at Ashland, Oregon (1970): Slim and I spent a quiet Summer playing at the city park and found relief from the heat at Crater Lake National Park; I watched our parish priest build a harpsichord from scratch; my dad, Slim, and I travelled through Western Canada during August.
I played Little League from 1965 through 1970.
I played ‘minors’ for the Braves my first two seasons. We were one of the best teams in the league that year and the next year.
The Red Sox promoted me for their ‘majors’ team in 1967. I attended all the practices and demonstrated that I was good in the field and at bat, but they dropt me because I would not be available to play during the Summer – my dad would be taking me to New Jersey. I forget the ‘minors’ team that took me, but we played the ‘minors’ Red Sox team on opening day. I hit a home run at one of my at bats that went all the way to the opposite field where the ‘majors’ Red Sox team was warming up – the ball hit one of my former team mates. True story.
I played on an advanced Little League league for 1970; I do not recall its specific term or name nor do I recall the team for which I played. I know we were a step above the prior, regular Little League because we played our games at a real Major League baseball field. Yep, fans, I know what it is to stand at home plate or at the outfield (I played outfield because of my ability to throw long and accurate) and look to the stands. Oh well, maybe we only played to 40, not 40.000, but this was certainly a great experience.
I was not interested playing baseball during high school. Being on the team also meant stripping down and taking communal showers after practise and games. I could not do that.
I was in scouting many years. I began in Cub Scouts and advanced to Boy Scouts.
I enjoyed camping. We camped in the mountains, by the lakes, at the desert. We did winter camping in the snow and warm weather camping in the desert. Sometimes we hiked 10 or 15 miles to a camp site, other times we drove directly to our camp site. We hiked the Grand Canyon from Hilltop to Havasupai (April 1968).
My dad and I resided at Idaho (Summer 1968). I joined the Boy Scout troop at that community. Our troop hiked through the Grand Teton Mountain on a 50-mile hike; it was actually a bit more, but no one was counting.
I was my home troop’s Quartermaster. My duties were to maintain stock and supplies for all our troop’s camping needs: food, equipment, gear.
I advanced only to First Class. My advancement to First Class was the quickest advancement in my home troop’s history to that time when I was a member.
No member of my home troop had either the Hiking or the Horsemanship merit badge as of the time of my membership. I had both, thus a double distinction.
I was not so much concerned with rank and collecting merit badges as simply having fun. And that I did.
My dad registered me to the nearby Boys’ Club in 1964.
- I played indoor softball, basketball, and hockey at the gymnasium;
- I made wood crafts at the carpentry shop;
- I became a pool shark at the games room – both billiards and bumper pool (I could play a five-shot game).
I remained active there until we moved to Greece (June 1971).
I grew a backyard home garden several years. Our trees dropt their leaves each Autumn. I collected their leaves and mulched them into the planting bed to enrich the soil each year.
I grew radishes, beets, carrots, watermelon, zucchini squash, yellow squash.
I cared for our fig and red plum fruit trees.
My adult gardening has not been quite as successfull. I have had only intermittent luck with okra, tomatoes, peas, beans, peppers. I currently have a pink grapefruit tree; I lost an orange tree, tangerine tree, and yellow grapefruit tree because I could not afford to water them.
Eating from the true ‘fruits’ of one’s labour is quite enthusiastic.