by Skylar Belt
“Oh damn, you look hot,” my best friend Wyatt said to me as I adjusted the toilet paper in my bra.
“Ya I think so… Charlotte! Come here!”
A pale teenager with a shaved head that I knew simply as “Wyatt’s older lesbian friend,” comes to look at me.
“Would you hit that?” Wyatt asks.
She looks me up and down.
“Eh, I don’t know she’s a bit young for me, but ya she’s cute,” Charlotte says to Wyatt.
I smile, a little taken aback at being sexualized as an 11 year old, but happy to be referred to as cute and feminine.
I was all dressed up for my middle school’s Halloween dance. This year I had chosen to be an 80’s punk girl, nothing too fancy. As a closeted AMAB trans* person at the time, this “costume” was a real treat for me. Something I had been looking forward too.
“Alright girl, put on your heels and let’s go. I don’t wanna be late to the dance,” Wyatt says to me, as he squirts a little more fake blood on on his shirt.
I nod to him as I put on my mother’s heels, straightening my fake boobs, and with a gentle spring in my step, I walk out the door.
“Now if anyone gives you shit Skylar,” Wyatt’s dad says to me in the car. “You know, about your costume. You tell me. Alright? And I’ll come in there and break his fuckin’ face,” he says slamming his hand on the steering wheel.
“Umm okay,” I squeak back to him.
“Ya know it will probably be fine. You go to a real hippy dippy school. Nothin’ like the one I used to be in. But just in case, you come and get me, okay? I got a 20 gauge in the back of the trunk. Ain’t nobody gonna give you any shit.”
“Cool… thanks,” I said back to him, as I buried my head into the back of the car seat.
My costumes not that weird. I mean ya, the neon blue wig is a bit of a crowd stopper. But besides that, it’s not too wacky. I thought to myself as we made our way there.
“Oh my god is that Skylar!?” I hear a couple kids in my class say as I walk through the entrance.
“Whoa you look so different! What are you supposed to be?”
“I’m a punk rock 80’s girl,” I say proudly, giving a little curtsey, hoping they’ll laugh approvingly.
They don’t. They stare back for a second in silence. Perhaps they had never heard of the 80’s. But finally, as if piecing it together for the first time...
“That’s so cool of you to do! Wow!” they say with forced enthusiasm.
“Thanks,” I say, trying to repress any excitement.
“Oh woah. Skylar. I didn’t recognize you,” a boy a grade above me says. He was known for his affectionate use of the word “faggot.”
“What are you?”
“Umm… I’m just an 80’s punk girl,” I mumble to him, rubbing the sweat off my arms.
“It’s a pretty cool costume. ”
I smile, flustered and walk towards the punch table to refresh myself.
I reach to get one of the the dixie cups on the table until I hear a loud surly voice behind me say,
“EY! Nice ass!” he says as someone gives mine a hard slap.
Shocked, I turn around expecting an apology.
Something along the lines of,
“Oh shit you ain’t Lindsey!” Or
“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe I just did that. I thought I was patting your back.”
But instead I hear,“HAHA. JUST Kiddin MAN! I know you ain’t a CHICK!” he shouts at me, as he gives my skirt a rough tug, nearly pulling it down.
There are a number of ways I could have reacted, a number of ways I wanted to react.
Most of which revolve around the idea of throwing my tiny fists at him or yelling at him till I was blue in the face.
But instead I did nothing.
I stood speechless, horrified.
but most of all confused.
Why can’t you just pretend? I thought. If only just tonight.
I imagined this night being fun. Magical even.
And a good amount of it was.
For the most part people played along and “pretended” that I was a girl. They used she/her pronouns and called me by a different name: “Skyla.”
Except for the one guy who thought sexually harassing me would be a funny joke.
But that’s okay, because I know he’ll end up living in some shitty, cock-roach infested trailer while I’m off flying around the moon (or something).
But for this one day, people would pretend that I was female. Pretend that I had a right to express my feminine identity. Because after all, this is Halloween. And on Halloween, it’s okay to dress up like the things we’re not supposed to be. Because we’re all just pretending.
But for me that costume was more real to me than any outfit I’d worn.
And my body felt more like my own than it ever had.
That night I could wear the clothes I had always wanted to wear,
act the way I had always wanted,
and be seen the way I had always wanted to be seen.
without being constantly called out and ridiculed at the slightest hint of presenting feminine.
That night I was finally allowed to be me.