I’m a real boy.

One of my shticks from my Intro to Digital Studies course last semester was that I made quite a few pieces of interactive fiction. They were told in the second-person perspective using “you” to refer to the main character, who is intended to be an insertion of the reader. I like the style, for it allows for a certain extension of empathy and thought would go best with the topic of transgender identity. I took this theme a bit literally, and it contains some personal content that could be viewed as negative.

This activity, “I’m a Real Boy,” (two stars) was created by Cherish Phillips and contains the following description: “Everyone has at some point wanted to be like or actually be someone else. Whether they’re a famous celebrity or just someone you really admire. For example, Pinocchio. He just wanted to be a real boy, that’s all he wanted. So what you’re gonna do is write a snapshot of what your life would be if you could be anyone else in the world. This can be a snapshot of a single day, or a summary of how your life would be. Be creative feel free to use anybody whether its a TV character, and actual person, or some random person that lives in your neighborhood.” In this text, the subject is myself and contains a snapshot of a Tuesday morning.

Trigger warning: instances of potential body dysphoria*

You inhale, your ribs liberated from a vice-like ache known in an alternate universe. You can breathe freely: you’re not worried that too sharp an inhale could destroy your image. The morning is like any other, and so you go about it with an occasional hum, random bass notes emanating from your throat. Your roommate is still dreaming, though they’re a heavy sleeper. The sound floats briefly in the echo-chamber bathroom before dissipating into the sound of running water. It is nice how you don’t have to hover outside the bathroom to wait for people to leave it. You’re welcome there, or at least you’ve welcomed yourself. 

It takes you quite a short amount of time to get ready, not blinking twice at the reflection that you’re used to. Even though you’ve been stress-eating, you’re naturally active. You’re a black belt, and you had to work just as hard as the other guys during your test last summer. Soon enough, you’re ready to walk out the door. You’re not worried about the position of your backpack strap as you sling it over one shoulder. It lays across your chest instead of cutting into it. Your shoulders are relaxed because you don’t feel the need to make them look broader than they already are.

Your hand envelopes the doorknob, granting you full control as you close the door softly. Your name is on it unashamedly, declared in bold Sharpie on a googly-eyed bird made from scrapbook paper. Sterling. It appears on your license, birth certificate, and others: just as it should. You do not have to cover up your name when your family comes because they have always known you by that name.

You have to tilt your head to view it because you’re your father’s height: 5’10”. You’ve never had to wear any kind of hidden heel to feel like people can see you as the man you are. You shake your head. No point on dwelling something so… well, cute. You can say that word. It’s OK.

It doesn’t take you long to walk to Stage Dialects class because you don’t worry about the way your legs look as you move. You greet your friends and sit in a chair, bow-legged and relaxed. The class begins, and you’re required to make a pure “e” sound. It comes smoothly from the front of your face in a casual tenor. Your gum ridge vibrates with the sound, the need to deepen your voice and keep it trapped in your throat – a half-muttered rasp – never arising.

The sound confirms that you’re a real boy.

And so am I.

*Please note that even though this details many insecurities, I am rather confident in my body. Also, I apologize if I used the wrong term in my trigger warning! Thanks for reading! ^_^