By D.C. McAllister

When I look at the glamorous pictures of Bruce Jenner dolled up as Caitlyn, with his flowing locks, long lashes, plump lips, and full breasts, I have to laugh. Not at him, but at the irony of it. What Jenner seems to have achieved with a lot of money, cosmetic surgeons, and talented makeup artists, I wanted desperately as a young girl and had to suffer through years of natural—and sometimes humiliating—development to attain.

You see, I wasn’t a very pretty girl. Actually, I looked like a boy. (I know, the irony.) We lived in a military town, and my mom used to take me to the barber on the base to get my hair cut. She would drop me off at the shop where I’d sit alongside Marines who were either coming or going to Vietnam. I remember how big they seemed, how strong, how brave. Trying hard not to make eye contact, I would slump in the chair and face the mirror. A thin, freckled boyish face stared back at me.

I can still smell the shaving cream and Windex that hung heavy in the warm, sticky air, and hear the whirr of a corner fan that sent hair tumbling across the floor and the buzz of electric razors that left heads shaven high and tight. Without a word, the barber would chop my hair, dust the back of my neck, shake off the cape, and send me on my way. I hated it. I hated being the only girl in the place. I felt small and fragile next to the Marines with their mile-long stares, jagged scars, and missing limbs. But my parents didn’t think much of nurturing femininity, so they insisted I go. It didn’t matter that I was just a girl.

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