Some girls are tomboys. This boy was a marygirl.

I coined a phrase for my own gender identity when I was five years old. I used to like dolls, tea sets, and playing pat-a-cake with girls instead of playing with boys. I liked talking about my thoughts and feelings more than most boys. I was slightly effeminate — sometimes more than others. A girl I was playing and talking with one day in a far corner of the playground at school asked me why I was that way. This is what I said:

“You know how some girls are tomboys? Well I guess you could call me a marygirl.”

Like many tomboys I outgrew that and became more typical of my physical gender; i.e., more masculine, but I’m proud of my ability at that age to give voice to how I felt, and even to normalize it. Other boys called me a sissy when I skipped down the halls singing, but I rejected that label and the pain that came with it, and declared my identity with a label of my own.

Were you / are you a marygirl? Is your son / nephew / grandson a marygirl? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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