I Would Learn to Play Hopscotch

hopscotchPeople sometimes ask me if I could go back and change one thing about my life, what would it be? I tell them, I would learn to play hopscotch. I think they might be looking for something more significant or something seemingly more philosophical, but I also think that learning to play hopscotch is the only answer for me. It is the one thing I might change, if I could.

    One time, while presenting on being transgender, an audience member asked me - not in an inappropriate way, but out of curiosity as to how I would respond - if the technology existed to diagnose transgender in the womb, would it be ethical to intervene?

   The answer to that question is contained in the fact that the question itself is based on the idea that there is something wrong with gender non-conformity. So then, of course, the answer is no, why would you?

    Pretty much the first half-century of my life took place in an arena in which I believed there was something wrong with me. In the last several years, that delusion has been shattered and replaced with the knowledge that being transgender is actually kind of awesome to me. I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Philosophically speaking, whatever changes I might make - given the opportunity to go back and make them - would have likely changed the path of my life to a point where I would not be the same person as I am today. I don’t think I want to do that.

    So why hopscotch? It is something I would not have dared to do in my childhood, as it would have been seen as “girly.” The kind of thing that would have further encouraged some of my co-children to do things like beat me up, trip me on the way down a flight of stairs, or other such activities.

    I needed to be seen as a girl, but didn’t dare to be seen as a girl. I pretended to be a boy, and simultaneously tried to learn how to be a boy. Hopscotch was definitely off limits for me.

    Perhaps it is about having the courage to be myself at the time, even if only a little. Maybe learning to play hopscotch would have created enough space for my girl to breathe. Like a well-kept secret where I would have known what she was doing, that she was there, but no one else would know.

    It is a reflection on maybe having a little more courage, but not truly making any changes, because they would have surely altered my path, the path that has led to where I am today. Its meaning is far more figurative than literal.

    Disguising my true nature was a survival mechanism for me. Real and imagined consequences contained in the pushing of envelopes. Yet, more than that. It was also about not tasting the honey (so to speak) because once tasted, it can never be untasted. The longing for authenticity teased by pseudo-authenticity of having touched the sky, but never to be satisfied until you have learned to fly.

    Flying was not possible for the little girl pretending to be a boy in the 1960s. Stretching toward the sky would have had the inevitable result of seeing my wings clipped. Most definitely leading down a different path to a place where I would have surely died. In spirit if not also in body.

    But I have learned to fly. I live in the sky. Surrounded by light and love. Why would I do anything to put that at risk? No, if I could go back and change one thing about my life, I would choose not to. Then again, maybe, I would learn to play hopscotch.

StephanieMott-7Stephanie Mott is a transgender woman from Topeka. She is the executive director of the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, and a commissioner on the City of Topeka Human Relations Commission. Reach her at [email protected]

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