A day that can mean so much, or little, to different people. The passing of time, being one year older, can seem pretty neat when you’re young. Assuming past birthdays have been pleasant for you, anyway. The gifts, attention, time with friends and family, new memories. Or, for those with a darker memory of childhood, a site of trauma. Being trans can make them problematic, too. And as it so happens, this post comes out on mine.
My experience of birthdays was mixed. Being a trans person from a working-class background with a mother who tries her best has been mostly positive, though with challenges. I was never acutely aware of others’ financial privilege at the time, and as someone who was closeted, my childhood birthdays were fairly positive. I subconsciously opted for gender-neutral presents, with a few exceptions. A few barbies and plenty of LEGO across the early years. As someone not stereotypically boyish or sporty, I avoided football and guns.
As my identity mentally solidified into something I could begin to verbalise, birthdays became harder to process. A site of demonstration where every card or gift appeared to have a masculine edge; the imposition of malestream colours, deadnames and values. The introduction of suits, off-brand lynx & heteronormative relationships. The untaught realm of sex. Lots of confusion areas.
And like many trans folk, as a bid to understand who I was, I jumped into sex and dating reasonably early, ignoring the gender bits as much as possible, wondering if it was just part of being bi. Alas, I soon discovered unbridgeable differences between myself and cis, bisexual men.
So, where does that leave my birthday? A constant reminder of gender misassignment at birth? Of years that had passed where I was not authentically me?
But what if I can re-create that? Yes, my legal birthday will always exist in some contexts. But that doesn’t have to be the one I automatically celebrate with loved ones.
How does one choose a new date? For me, it was the date that my first deed poll, when I legally became Megan, was certified by the court in those days before knowing a deed poll could be made without the faff of solicitors and HMCTS. February 28th. A day that brings me happiness as the birthday of, well, me.
So, my birthdays since, despite the minor annoyance of being a year older, have been lovely.