The Hell of Growing Up (1958-1976)

I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood twenty miles south of San Francisco. My parents divorced when I was nine, and soon I had to transfer out of the sanctuary of parochial school. I attended the majority of junior high in a public school where I learned what bullies were and how to run from them. The Christmastime photo below (lower left) depicts how miserable I was back then.

I had to keep running in high school, which did little for my self-esteem. Just as bad for my confidence was my inability relate to "guy" stuff, like cars or sports, because I couldn't care less about those things. And yet I didn't play with Barbie dolls either. Unlike many transwomen I didn't know early on I should have been a girl, but I knew I was a misfit.

As I aged I grew even less certain of myself, never knew how to act as a guy. I wondered if I was on the wrong planet. I had no friends and few friendly acquaintances. I never dated or went to dances or anything else like that. I'd have been lost were it not for the computer terminals in the library. I loved computer programming; I could do it alone and it was the only thing that made me feel like a worthwhile person.

Because I identified as a hippie I hung with other outcasts and discovered alcohol and marijuana. I got puking sick more than once. After my ass was nearly kicked several times by bullies, I quit hanging with the party crowd. Other than Social Hell aspect, the worst aspect of high school was mandatory Phys Ed. I hated it, especially undressing and showering in front of everybody, which I invented ways around. I was grateful to graduate a semester early, in January of 1976. Hasta la vista, Teenage Hell.

CCW from top left: my father, mother, baby brother and me (1961); my last class photo in parochial school (1969); Christmastime non-cheer (1969); taking solace in our family's pet rabbit (1973); nearly drowned in Kings Canyon River, two minutes after I pulled myself away from certain death in the icy rapids (1972); Halloween with my little brother (1968).