“Callie? I’m transgender.” The noise of yelling kids and the squeaky playground swings seemed to dull as I faced my friend.
“I..” The brunette girl looked me over and then bit her lip. “What’s transgender?”
In 5th grade, I was finally coming to terms of what I was. I knew that I wasn’t a girl, but finding out what I identified as was the difficult part. Fortunately, I met an older transboy that told me what he was and helped me come to terms. My best friend, Callie, was the only person I trusted to tell.. But that trust didn’t last long at all.
It was a few weeks into the school year at the time that I told her, and when I did she questioned.
“It means that I feel like a boy and not a girl.” I said, rocking on my heels.
“But you wear pink all the time!” She exclaimed, her face getting red. Was she crying?
“My parents get me my clothes and-” I began, but she cut me off.
“I don’t want to be friends with some weirdo!” She snapped, walking off without another word. Nope, not crying.. Mad.
I wasn’t used to being yelled at or told off, as I was one of the more popular kids and had a lot of friends. But Callie was friends with all of my friends, and also my #1 friend. She was like a sister to me. But after I came out to only her, she turned her back on me.
And it didn’t stop with her.
She had a sleepover that Friday and told all of her friends, which then led to all of them knowing by the next day. On Monday, someone who was at the sleepover that Friday told almost everyone in the fifth grade before I arrived to class.
When I walked in, a ton of people began whispering or laughing, and a few even had the nerve to point. At first, I thought that there was some sort of joke going around, not knowing that Callie had somehow spread the news to everyone in the school through five other people.
Callie approached me after I put my bag away.
I was stunned. I’d never exactly heard the word before and frankly didn’t know what it meant, but it sounded offensive and made me feel terrible. Sure, kids swore and used derogatory terms often in this grade for some reason, but I had never heard this one. Being the sensitive fifth grader I was, I began to cry. She laughed and whispered, “I’m not your friend anymore, and no one else here will be. We don’t like fags.”
Thankfully, one of my friends, Gillian, still talked to me.
Well, she didn’t know yet. Callie didn’t like her very much, which was somewhat a relief now.
I sat with her at lunch and she could tell something was wrong. She nudged me, and, without words, handed me a double stuffed oreo and smiled. She always knew what to do to cheer me up.
When I got home, I didn’t tell my parents about what happened because I didn’t want to come out to them. If people reacted so badly, I wondered what would happen to me at home. So I said nothing.
Over the next few weeks, Callie and her clan didn’t stop with the rumors. First it was that I was a boy now, which wasn’t a lie. Then, they claimed that I was trying to turn other people into the opposite gender by being their friend, and finally, I drew the line when they said that it was a disease and if they came anywhere near me, they would be infected too.
I approached Callie on a Friday before we were to be dismissed. “Hey.” I kept my eyes down, my hair somewhat falling in my face.
“Hey.. Um..” She stuttered slightly and I raised a brow as I raised my head slightly.
I was stunned at what came out of her mouth. An apology?
I was tied between what to say. Did I want to forgive her or walk away?
We stood in silence before she quietly walked off.
Our relationship from then on was extremely complicated and awkward. We talked sometimes in the class, and outside of school we seemed to get along alright. I felt as if my coming out was a true setback and that ruined our friendship, so I didn’t mention anything about me being transgender until 7th grade, to a whole new set of friends and people in Cumberland.
I had a hard time even thinking about forgiving Callie, and in the end I didn’t. We don’t see each other at all now, and she’s become more involved in sports. But, I didn’t feel like forgiving her was the right thing to do. She had taken away my friends and a lot of my popularity because I had told her who I was. If someone can’t accept you for who you are, there’s no point in trying to be their friends. True friends stick by you and help you through rough times, but if Callie didn’t accept I was a boy and made fun of me, then it seemed as if it was better to let her go then try to hang onto our friendship or start again.