Back in middle school, most of my friends knew me as a tomboy. I wore boys’ clothes, joined karate club, assembled my brother’s robot Lego, and installed the water gallon onto the dispenser by myself. My blatant, dominant, critical, and rebellious personality made the label stick even more.
I had not always been a tomboy. I used to love girly things like your average-six-year-old girl: the pink color, pretty dress, Barbie doll, Disney princesses, long hair. I didn’t feel that I was trapped in a wrong body; I was comfortable with my gender identity.
As time went by, I realized that being a boy have so many more advantages. You don’t need to do chores, you can play as long as you want and you can sit ngangkang (astride). I wanted that advantages, so slowly I transformed myself into a tomboy.
I also realized that people thought I couldn’t do the things that I wanted to do just because I am a girl. I started to hate the “girly” attributes for those reasons. I refused to wear girly clothes, begged my parents to cut my hair short and played with boys’ toys. When someone said that I was pretty, I would take offence. I was really happy when my male friends admitted that they treated me as a boy, because they listened to my opinion and never teased me. Some of my girlfriends tried to make me more feminine, but I resisted them. I wanted to be a real boy.
When I was in middle school, I really wanted to continue my studies at a high school that used to be an all-boy school. Although they had accepted girls since the 1990s, 70 percent of the student body was still made up with boys. But my dad wanted me to go to an all-girl school, hoping his only daughter would became more feminine. I finally agreed to attend the all-girl school, after my dad allowed me to cut my butt-length hair.
For the next three years I tortured myself in this school, which did not make me more feminine. But I learned something important from my high school years: being a girl doesn’t make you less capable than boys.
After high school, I got my bachelor degree at one of the best colleges, where I had a lot of opportunity to learn about so much things, including feminism and the fight for gender equality. I realized that I don’t want to be a boy; I just want be treated equally as the boys. I don’t want my mom to make me do the chores just because I am a girl, but because I have to take responsibility at my parents’ house. I don’t want an elderly man to give this healthy youngster a seat at the public transport just because I am a girl (true story). Judge me not by my appearance, but by my ability just like my male friends.
I have started to wear some girly clothes now, because I already know what I want, though I still prefer black to pink.
Sarah Gracia Keinamada is a psychology fresh graduate who still tries to figure out the purpose of living a life. She is not good at using words, but, still, she tries.