Clearly Opaque

I must’ve asked her—if she could paint my nails, too. I was little. Maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. Mom acquiesced. But she chose to paint my nails not with the kind of pretty color that she was wearing, but with a clear coat. I was disappointed. You couldn’t tell.

Are my nails really painted? It was my way of expressing discontent. It was my round about way of asking for colored nail polish. As a child I never used to ask for things directly. Curled in on myself I was often scolded by my family for this round about way of asking for things by not asking for things.

I might’ve been too young to know how transgressive my asking mom to paint my nails was. Choosing the clear was perhaps my mom’s way of not wanting to quash her little child’s curiosity yet still policing my gender (expression).

I was in the dark. I couldn’t grasp why it felt so titillating to have my nails painted and at the same time profoundly disappointing, frustrating that the polish went on clear.

It would be another 30 some odd years before it would become clear to me the reason for my desire for this so-called-transgression, this memory only surfacing today as I was painting my toenails.


‪This is Retrograde. Memories of my childhood that speak to my trans-ness.‬ Like an archeologist, I want to catalog these clues. Because I was left clueless for 30 years.

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