Growing Pains

When interviewed by the Twinbrook Tribune after getting named Fireman of the Year, the reporter asked me what I felt was my greatest accomplishment.

“Why, growing up,” I answered without a beat.

She blinked her wide doe-eyes at me, clearly a bit taken back by my answer. “Growing up?” she asked, her tone dumb-founded. “But everyone grows up.”

“Yes,” I said, my baritone laugh filling the air. “But how we grow up is significant, and shapes us into who we are in the present. I wouldn’t be who am I today if I hadn’t gone through it.”

“So… you wanted to be a fireman when you were a kid?” she asked, still not quite understanding my deeper meaning.

I just gave her a wide grin. “Something like that.” I just didn’t bother to clarify that fires had nothing to do with it. I just simply wanted to be a man. Any sort of man would’ve been fine.

I was never your typical little girl. When my brother and I played with the neighbor girl next door, I was always the prince and she was always the princess, and my brother was the dragon, and it was always my duty to climb the fortress walls and save yon fair maiden from the clutches of the foul evil Brothersaurus Rex.

My best friend in the world was Parker. Riding bikes, climbing trees… everything was an adventure! It never occured to me that there was anything strange about our friendship until the day he said I couldn’t go explore the old cathedral ruins, because they were haunted and girls were scaredy cats.

“But I’m not a girl.”

I had been serious when I’d said it, but he’d laughed and said, “Right, you’re such a tomboy! Well, if you’re not gunna get scared, I’ll race you!” and that had been the end of that.

Tomboy. That’s what my parents always said, too, but I never really understood the term back then. In my mind I just heard the “boy” part and thought that was a good thing. I played baseball better than my brother and whenever Bridgette wanted to play dolls I always played the dad and the brother and the boyfriend, and she was fine with that. She had way more girl dolls than boy dolls to play with, but we had fun. In my mind, I was just enjoying childhood as any little boy should. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized everyone else just thought my behavior was “acting like a tomboy.” No one ever took me seriously.

I still remember when I felt my first real rejection back then, from my parents. They were willing to accept having a “tomboy” for a daughter, but only to a certain extent, as I learned that day when Mom took me to get my hair cut. I hated that long hair. I hated those girly pigtails that stuck out awkwardly from my baseball cap. So I told Mom I wanted to cut my hair short. She had looked really torn, but finally relented to my begging and pleading.

I loved how it looked. It was light and airy and off my ears and my neck. But I hated the look on Mom’s face when she set down that magazine and looked at me after it was finished. I felt like I’d done something wrong, and couldn’t understand why. My brother Nathan had hair like this, so why couldn’t I? It just didn’t make sense…

Even if everyone else seemed confused about who I was, I certain’t wasn’t. I mean, I was Ty. I was your average little boy that loved superheroes and had skinned knees and wanted a basketball arcade game and the Masked Bandito action figure for his birthday. Sure, some of the… parts that Nathan already had weren’t there yet, but I just figured that was because Nathan was older than me. I’d just get those when I got older.

Oh, how wrong I was. How very wrong I was. The more my body grew, the more I grew to hate myself, and the person I had to see in the mirror. That was not Ty. I had felt so comfortable as a naive little boy… and then my chest grew, and I could no longer hide from the inevitable. My body was wrong. And the rest of the world… all they could see was this body. They wanted me to be Tyra, not Ty. They didn’t understand.

Somehow, I blamed myself, and the deceitful betrayal of my own body. I became really withdrawn. I’d been a really outgoing kid, but as a teen, I became really awkward and spent most of my time alone. I became exceedingly depressed, and spent too much time crying to myself in bed and wishing I could go back to my younger self, before that stupid chest had grown in and my hips had started to become all curvy-like. I was filled with estrogen and hated every minute of it. I even tried to stop eating, hoping I could somehow stunt my development, but my mother noticed my nearly-full plates at the end of meals and got worried I was anorexic. She had no idea what was truly going on inside me… but I didn’t feel like I could tell her, either.

I was sent to see a psychologist.

At first, I really didn’t want to talk to Dr. Harbin. But looking back on things, I’m glad that I did. Somehow, being told that I had gender dysphoria, and that I wasn’t alone, was a slight comfort. Unfortunately, my parents refused to accept any of it, so treatment came to a screeching halt. I was under eighteen. It wasn’t like I could get a prescription for puberty blockers or start hormones without their support.

They were certain it was all “just a phase,” and that if I tried “embracing my femininity” that I’d enjoy it. Mom begged me to let my hair grow out a bit. I hated every second of it, but it seemed that every inch it got longer, she seemed to accept me a little more. She got this thrill dolling me up for prom, even though I said I didn’t want to go. I hated it. I hated the make-up, I hated the dress in its pastel colors, I hated the nylons, and jewelry, and especially those damned heels! Every part of it felt like I was wearing some fake Tyra costume and trying to play a part to make everyone else happy, while I just felt worse and worse about myself for doing it.

As soon as I arrived at the school, I bolted straight through the gym, covering my face from the dancers, and slipped into the locker room, hoping that no one had seen me, or worse, recognized me, in that awful outfit.

And then I just broke down. Really broke down. I knew I couldn’t put on that facade any more.

I looked in the mirror at what I had become and screamed at the stranger reflected there. And then I shoved those horrible clothes into my gym locker and grabbed my spare workout clothes, and using a small pair of nail scissors I kept for hangnail emergencies, I hacked away that long hair that pleased my mother so much.

And when only Ty was left, I felt better. So much better.

Dad was furious when I got home and he saw me. How could I betray him and especially my mother like that? Why couldn’t I just be their little girl? I thought he was going to hit me, he was so enraged. He didn’t, but I knew then that I was never going to have their understanding. Their acceptance. But I’d decided that night that my own happiness, that being who I needed to be, was more important.

And in the end, growing up wasn’t all bad, because eventually, I turned eighteen. I was able to move out of that household where nobody understood me, and go back to Dr. Harbin to get the hormones and surgery that I needed so the world can now see the person I’ve always been.

And I couldn’t be happier!

This was written for the May Monthly Short Story Challenge from the Sims forums, which tasked folks to write a story in 500-1500 words using 1-12 screencaps using the theme “Growth.” It is a completely stand-alone story, not using any characters from any of my other works (although there is a cameo from my February short story… can you spot it?)

This is one of the rare instances where I knew fairly quickly after reading the theme what I wanted to write about! A random funny fact… when I decided I wanted the psychologist shot as I was playing, I was like, argh, I need a set! Luckily the house I’d plopped down had a big, empty basement in it, so I quickly made up a one-room set… then realized I needed an actor! Quick, who does the family know? Right, no one… Oh wait, the annoying llama mascot that comes at the beginning of every single new save game! So yes, the psychologist is actually the llama mascot, called up short notice and re-dressed. Hehehehe.


About Mastress Alita

I'm a fulltime librarian, a chronic migraineur, a tea addict, and an avid Simmer that writes SimLit and maintains the Stories and Legacies Index, a link directory of SimLit on Wordpress. Though I obviously love cats, I actually don't own one! (Blame my apartment lease for that!) I do have a charming old cockatiel, Kali, that has been my companion for the last seventeen years!
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21 Responses to Growing Pains

  1. Biologic sex doesn’t define who we really are, we were born to be a somebody and nobody has the right to judge us . I hate Genderism.What does it really mean to be a Woman? What kind of behaviour is right to be define as a woman mentally etc? Same questions for men.Genderism is a pure nonsense.Each of us has got a male and a female side,Ty has no mental troubles she is just a strong male side developped.She’s an hero now.That’s all that count.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. raerei says:

    This is awesome. I’m glad you could write it in time, Ty’s story is perfect.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Raerei! I felt like I was really rushing to get it all done before the anime con, but phew… at least then I didn’t have to bang it out on the 31st after I got back! (Not that I’ve never done that before… but at least then I wouldn’t have to do a last day-er in a post-con stupor, hahaha!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. chealsycat says:

    It’s great that Ty managed to find himself.

    And llama psychologist is fantastic. :D

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Chelsea!

      And yes, llama psychologist didn’t even have to finish his university degree to get such a nice job! He’s really quite lucky (and sadly, probably more qualified than most psychologists… at least he can lead patients in the Sims University cheer. Gooooooo Gerbitz!)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. cathytea says:

    I really enjoyed this! You capture those childhood feelings so well!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. theceltygirly says:

    OMG llama psychologist haha XD
    On a more serious note, I really like this. Gender roles are so dumb. Maybe if we didn’t pressure girls to be one way and boys to be another, then gender dysphoria wouldn’t be as prominent because there wouldn’t a box to fit into. I don’t know, but I just hate seeing transphobia and all of the gendered things in daily life.
    Great story <3

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really hate seeing transphobia too. I have a friend with gender dysphoria that probably will never become the person she really wants to be because she is so terrified of it in society, and that’s pretty sad. I guess that’s why I couldn’t possibly let this have a sad ending. ^_^


  6. Lllama psychologist! That makes me smile and laugh. Actually for my story, I went hunting around town for townies at 1AM because I still needed some of the inside shots and the only person I created was my protagonist. I found some pretty interesting paparazzi to dress up. With less than an hour before class and I had to submit my story or I wouldn’t get it in so I morphed Geoffery Landgrabb for one of my characters.

    On the subject of gender, we most definitely condition kids as a society from an early age. Pink is girly. Blue is for boys. Trucks are for boys. Dolls are for girls. I didn’t like playing with dolls and I legitimately tried to drown Barbie in my bathtub at a young age. I was much of a tomboy growing up and I preferred hanging with guy friends in college. Now as an adult woman, I prefer football to tea parties, action movies to romantic comedies, jeans to skirts, and I’d rather play computer games than go shopping any day. But I do actually enjoy stereotypical womanly things like flowers, going on dates with my husband, jewelry, purses, and shoes and I’m learning to embrace my femininity. The biggest thing is I don’t like being fit into a box and told to like something just because I’m female and I really dislike being told I can’t do something because I’m a girl. I don’t want to be a guy, but I can imagine Ty’s pain at being told to be a girl. I’m glad Ty is happier now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well, when you really need actors, random townies and llama psycholists happen, hahaha! Granted, I blame him for just barging up unwanted to my front door, he had it coming…

      I actually wrote a paper waaaaaaaaaay back in college on gender stereotyping in childrens toys, when at the time I think all my classmates were doing the typical “gender roles in the household” or “gender roles in the workplace” stuff that had been done to death, heh. I found that far more interesting. That was years ago (*cough cough* just to age myself) and it is sad how industry pretty much is still unchanged. I myself have always associated with my birth gender and despite being drowned in the typical “little girl stuff” during childhood, am now not particularly very feminine at all. My close friends are all males and unless someone is getting married or has died, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress (and even then, never in make-up!) But My Little Ponies: Friendship is Magic is freaking awesome. Oh wait, but guys are into that now, so that isn’t saying much… ^_~

      Gender dysphoria really has a lot less to do with simply liking “masculine” or “feminine” things and more to do with feeling like you are simply born with the wrong body, no matter what you like. I’m thinking I may have missed the mark here, since it seems most people are noticing the gender roles more than the body disconnect. I guess with so little words that is the real challenge! Still happy I managed to get this out before I was gone for my vacation though! I have a lot of transgender friends, some happily post-op and living better lives now that they are in a body they feel comfortable and fully alive in, and others that feel trapped and stuck in their current body because of the pressures of society or fear of rejection from their family, peers, or workplace. I really love characters of diversity and have wanted to cover this for a while and “growth” just seemed the right place, as that puberty transition period which is admittedly hard enough for those of us happy with our born gender must be really rough on those that aren’t, with the sudden changes the body goes through.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I knew what you meant with gender dysphoria. I studied it a little as an undergrad and came across it in my research on mental health and wellbeing recently in grad school.

        I didn’t know exactly what to say because I can’t relate since I’m happy with my birth gender so I related it to the masculine/feminine thing since it was easiest. I agree with you – gender roles are overdone in general.

        I can understand how painful it must be for someone who really feels they were born with the wrong body and how difficult life is for them because others won’t accept who they are. I can imagine it feels very scary and confusing. I think you did a great job of capturing that in your story.

        I don’t know anyone personally who is trans but I do have friends who are gay/lesbian/bi (which is different, I know). My friends have experienced all sorts of rejection and condemnation just for that so I imagine trans would be that much harder.

        I think it was a great connection to growth and this isn’t a topic I see coming up a lot in written fiction, particularly SimLit so I commend you for trying a difficult topic that others might not want to broach, but it’s equally important to discuss, if not more so. It is sad to see that society hasn’t progressed and I feel like this is because we get hung up on traditional and what we’ve always done and we’re afraid, as a whole, of the unknown and the different, and therefore we treat others as different instead of as an individual deserving of respect and rights. (I just wrote a paper recently on stigmas surrounding mental illness and promoting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is vital and how individuals, just because they are human, deserve respect, regardless of age, race, sex, gender, religion, etc)… Off topic…

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I agree wholeheartedly! And that sounds like an excellent paper topic! (So sad how still most insurance policies have next to no coverage for mental health, even really nice jobs with so-called “good” policies…)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Todd Allis says:

        I think you hit the mark quite well. I especially liked the scene in the mirror, where Ty is seeing someone he doesn’t identify with, and then he fixes the image.

        Thanks! This was very well done.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m glad I was able to write this in time! Someone was visiting at the end of the month preventing me from my usual procrastination, hahaha! I’m glad I got to write on this topic, though! I actually copied our chat on the topic to make sure I wouldn’t lose it before I got to write… I definitely pulled a few ideas from that conversation! ^_^


  7. CitizenErased14 says:

    Awesome story! You always capture such real feelings/issues in your stories. I love it :) So glad things worked out well for Ty in the end!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jellysimwich says:

    Well done! I really enjoyed this story. I can relate, somewhat, as I’ve got a family member that came out a few years ago and is still adjusting to how he feels about himself and how the world feels about him. Being different is not easy.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Nat 619 says:

    So I found this by chance and it was a good read! I think you captured it well and I’m glad it has a happy ending. Weird coincidence: I have a trans guy character in my own sims story who also happens to be a fireman!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! TS3 is a hard platform to try to make MtF or FtM Sims on, but I still enjoyed myself; I really enjoy exploring LGBTQ+ themes from time to time and glad it comes out well enough despite the hardware limitations. Thanks for reading!


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