During my junior year of high school, I decided that I wanted to play baseball with the other guys in my school. The problem was that no one saw me how I saw myself which was male. I was told that I wasn’t allowed to play on the team because I was female. This didn’t go over well with me because a) I thought of myself as a guy that was born with the wrong body parts and b) I wasn’t going to be told I couldn’t do something just because of what I was born as, so I fought for my position on the team and won. When I was finally allowed to play with my fellow guys I was ecstatic. It was the first thing that I was really excited about in school since we had moved from Florida several years prior.
I attended all the practices and worked hard to be the best player that I could. I pushed myself constantly to show that I deserved my spot on the baseball team just like anyone else. I was allowed to play a few games my junior year, mostly right field. I was the only person on my baseball team that batted left handed and could hit a curve ball. So when my senior year rolled around and it was time for baseball I was ready. I had practiced all summer and fall with my younger brother, who would also join me on the team that year. I worked hard in school to keep my grades high enough that my parents would allow me to play. I aced my classes the first semester of school and had enough credits to graduate before school resumed in January of 2002.
I was ready for the baseball season!
I had even placed second in district History Day and was allowed to compete at a state level, but it conflicted with my baseball schedule. I chose baseball. It was the one thing that I was fairly good at, and since joining the team the previous year, I was starting to make some semblance of friendships with the other guys on my team. Everyone on the team called me by my last name rather than my first and I was at last one of the guys. I was beginning to feel like I belonged.
This also happened to be the last year that the coach was going to be coaching at my school, and it seemed that he didn’t want a “girl” on his baseball team.
The principal of the school decided that I needed to be put into In School Suspension (ISS), for supposed “tardies” for the previous year during the week of the first game. I practiced with the team and wasn’t told that I wasn’t allowed to play until I showed up in uniform for the game. The coach told me to go home, that I wasn’t allowed on HIS field or HIS bench. He allowed players that were failing classes to sit the bench with everyone else, he allowed other players that were in ISS with me to sit the bench, but I was sent away.
I was crushed.
For the first time since I had started playing baseball, I had a real fight with depression. I left the field and returned home only to bawl my eyes out. There was nothing that hurt me more in school than that one moment when everything that I had worked so hard for and had fought for had been taken away from me, and why? The answer was because I had been born in a female body.
I wanted to die.
I went back to the baseball field after taking off my uniform and I quit. When the coach held his hands out expecting me to hand him my uniform, I threw it in the dirt, stomped on it and strode away.
I couldn’t go back to school. It hurt too much. I couldn’t face my teammates and tell them what happened. I was too embarrassed, especially after everything I had been through with them. I couldn’t even drag myself from my bed in the morning; I just lay in bed and cried. My mother did perhaps the kindest thing she has ever done for me, and that was withdraw me from school, with the provision that I received my high school diploma and got to participate in graduation.
I didn’t have to tell my teammates though, my younger brother did. After I quit, there was no longer enough players for a full team. So the coach went to my younger brother and his two friends, trying to get them to play for him. My brother refused and told the coach what made him think that he or any of his friends were going to play for him after what he had done to his “sister”. He and his friends quit the team as well. Then another player, someone I was starting to get pretty close to, found out about what the coach had done and quit.
While it hurt me so badly that the coach had done what he did simply because I was born female, nothing could have made me prouder than the other guys on my team and my younger brother sticking up for me. It helped some with the depression to know that there were still people that cared about me and thought I belonged with everyone else there.
The coach ended up having to forfeit the rest of his season because he didn’t have enough players for a full team.
I still miss those guys. As I write this I wonder what they’re doing now, and think of how great it would be if we could all get together and play a game or just hang out. I doubt that any of them would recognize me now; I’ve changed so much since then, emotionally and physically.
I’m a much stronger person now, and I refuse to allow bullies to have any power over my emotions.