Billy and I were best friends throughout grammar school. I can't remember how we became friends, but we had a lot in common and that is what probably drew us together. We were both Polish, which was a rare commodity in our neighborhood, we both went to the same church (a Polish parish, needless to say), we were both artists, which put us on the outs with the school's "in crowd," and we both were fascinated in the opposite sex. We had crushes on certain girls, but we both were also scared of them and never did anything about our crushes, at least not in grammar school.
Around puberty, maybe in the 7th or 8th grade, I remember Billy hinting that we dress as girls for Halloween. At that time, I knew something was up with me gender-wise, but I didn't know what. However, the idea of dressing as a girl for Halloween was very attractive, but I was also in public denial about my gender issues and told Billy that I had no interest in his Halloween costume plans.
I don't remember what I wore for a costume that Halloween, but I do recall that I went out with my usual Halloween trick and treat partner in crime, my other best friend, who lived across the street.
In school the next day, Billy mentioned that he did dress as a girl; he trick and treated at my house and was disappointed that I was not home to see him in his costume. Note that Billy never before trick and treated my house, so he made a special effort that night to show me his girl costume.
Around this same time, I remember that one of us decided that we should adopt girl names (why - I don't know) and for days, he addressed me by my girl name, which was "Susan" and I addressed him by his girl name, which I cannot recall now.
As I mentioned above, we were both artists. He was very good at painting and I was a very good at sketching. As an outlet for my budding trans psyche, I spent a lot of my free time back then sketching males wearing female clothing. I must have killed a forest doing it. One day, Billy mentioned that he had been doing something similar and another day, he showed me some of his sketches. My reaction was to show disinterest.
But my real reaction was fear. I was in uncharted waters; I did not know what was going on with him (or me). I had enough trouble sorting out what was going on with me without having to deal with what was going on with my best friend, so I basically ignored him and I think that was the beginning of the end of a beautiful friendship. We hung out less during our last days in grammar school and ended up going to different high schools and after a few years, we were both out of each others' lives.
I think Billy was reaching out to me. He probably was just as confused as I was and maybe he thought he and his best friend would be better able to work things out as a team rather than solo. If that was the case, he was probably correct and I very much regret not reaching out to him and trying to work out together what the heck was going on. And so it goes.
Over the years, I learned through a mutual friend that Billy got married and lives two towns away, but our mutual friend said nothing about anything trans and I certainly did not ask.
But I often think about Billy and wonder if he really was trans (or was it just my 'magination) and if he ever did anything about it. I often hoped that one day he would show up at my support group and we could become best friends again except that this time we would be girlfriends.
(This post originally appeared in September 2008. I thought it was appropriate to rerun it because Billy recently appeared in a dream.”)
A contestant femulating in the Mr. Tiger womanless beauty pageant.