And the ebook giveaway goes to engarian
About Elliott DeLine: Elliott DeLine (born 1988) is an independent, self-published writer from Syracuse, NY. He is the author ofRefuse, "a witty and provocative debut novel," (Lambda Literary Review) which was a finalist in the 2011 LGBT Rainbow Awards. His work has been featured in several publications, including the Modern Love essay series of The New York Times (2011) and The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, winner of a 2012 Lambda Literary Award for Best Transgender Fiction. He is also a regular blogger forOriginal Plumbing, the premier FTM magazine. His newest book, I Know Very Well How I Got My Name, was praised by Kirkus Reviews as "one of the most well-written, nuanced transgender origin stories on the market today...a novella that confirms his impressive range and talent." Elliott currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I Know Very Well How I Got My Name: A Novella by Elliott DeLine and Red Thomas
Paperback: 118 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 2, 2013)
Amazon: I Know Very Well How I Got My Name: A Novella
Amazon Kindle: I Know Very Well How I Got My Name: A Novella
The night he loses his virginity, he becomes Dean. Amy Wagner names him—and she would know best. Amy knows all kinds of things that Dean doesn’t understand—things about sex, music, and the darker side of life. All Dean knows is his safe suburban home with his parents, books, and imaginary games. Until now, he’s been able to hide his true identity, even from himself. To the rest of the world, he is a teenage girl—an awkward, boyish teenage girl, but a girl nonetheless. Meeting Amy changes everything. Soon that protected world around him begins to fall apart, and he is left with no other option but to face himself and the truth. I Know Very Well How I Got My Name chronicles Dean’s clumsy progression through the American public school system. It is the 90’s and early 2000’s, in suburban Syracuse, New York—a world in which LGBTQ bullying is not yet a hot topic in schools, and there is little tolerance for outsiders of any kind. A prequel to the award-winning novel Refuse, Elliott DeLine’s second book is about the prevailing myths surrounding bullying and abuse, and the hardships of being young and transgender without a community, support, or a roadmap.
Don’t Touch the Woodchips
Second grade starts out well. For the first time, I pick out my own outfits for school. Most days I decide to wear all denim: Lee jeans, a backwards denim hat and a denim jacket. I buy a patch of a deer at the bait store and ask Mom to iron it on my jacket. She says that it is for hunters. I hate hunters but I love deer, so I don’t really care and I want it on there anyway. I pick out new brown glasses instead of the baby-pink-girly ones. Pink, baby, and girly are the worst words, in my 8-year old opinion. I wear animals tee shirts with environmentalist slogans such as “They Were Here First!” tucked in, with a braided leather belt and black converse high-tops. My thick brown hair is pulled back in a low ponytail, always. I hate that ponytail. I always carry a bizarre stuffed animal on my person. My favorite is a duck-billed platypus I got at the zoo gift shop. These are my favorite animals, after wolves and manatees. Oh and cats.
Needless to say, no girls in my class dress like me. Neither do the boys. But the boys appreciate my sense of style and I’m allowed to join their ranks. Dan, our leader, teaches us the rules of being a boy right from the start. We must hate Titanic, the Miami Dolphins, actual dolphins, Winnie the Pooh, and most importantly, all girls. Some kid mentions I am a girl. Dan is furious and says, No she’s not! She’s different.
I am so happy. I can hardly wait to tell my mother. I actually don’t hate the girls. I’m just indifferent to them.
In the winter, we have to play inside at recess. The boys make their Beanie Babies battle or take risks by bungee jumping off desks or street racing in Tonka trucks. This results in several severe beanie baby injuries. Luckily, all the girls in my class are pretend veterinarians.
One day, misfortune strikes and my baby wolf catches the plague. I take him straight to the beanie baby hospital. The nurse who greets me is a girl named Jaclyn. She has short blond hair, glasses, and a stupid face for her age. It just doesn’t work for her.
This wolf is sick, I say, placing him on a desk.
Some other girls come over to look.
You can’t play, Jaclyn says.
I hate when people interrupt the most important moments by telling me I am playing.
That’s not a real Beanie Baby, she says.
The other girls laugh at me.
I insist my wolf is a Beanie Baby, but Jaclyn shows me the tag. Sure enough, it says Bean Sprout. My wolf is a cheap, knock-off brand. I am ashamed that I don’t live in Wildcreek. Kids in Wildcreek have every Beanie Baby.
Wildcreek is the most expensive housing development and the kids who live there make sure everyone else knows it. They flatter one another, describing to us how huge their friend’s house is, and the friend will say, No, no, YOUR house is the hugest! If you live anywhere else, you’re basically a scrub.
I imagine their housing development to be a magic land of swimming pools and backyard-playgrounds and dozens of friends on the same street who have sleepovers every night. What’s worse is I’m pretty sure I am right.
Another staple of second grade life is Don’t Touch the Woodchips. This game is essentially tag, but with more injuries. It is played by chasing one another, at full speed, on the metal jungle gyms. If you are tagged or your feet touch the woodchips AKA. lava, you are out. Naturally, it is boys vs. girls. Whoever has the most survivors at the end is the superior sex. The boys almost always win.
I am still dressed all in denim and I’m still a boy at recess. I now hate the girls, and they know it. They hate me too, even more than they hate the regular boys. They have a symbol—they pretend it is top secret, but everyone knows it is the symbol for hating me. They draw it in the corners of their papers. It looks like an atom, like we learned about in science.
It is just another day, just another round of Don’t Touch the Woodchips. I am chasing a girl named Caitlyn across the wooden bridge, and just as I am reaching out to tag her, she turns around and screeches in my face.
You can’t tag me! You can’t tag anyone, because you aren’t a boy or a girl!
No one argues with her. Not even Dan. Several girls pipe in.
She can’t play because she’s not a boy or a girl!
The boys sort of shrug and go back to playing.
All the girls start chanting, You aren’t a boy-oy, you’re aren’t a boy-oy!
I walk away to sit alone on the swings. I try to think about Brownie and Spot so I don’t cry, but it’s useless.
When I am ten, I discover manly women. I occasionally see a pair of them at the grocery store, and I hurry the other way. They are old and both of them dress like men. They have short, cropped hair, and look strangely similar. Whenever I see them, my stomach turns with anxiety. I try to silence the mean voices in my head. I don’t like what they are telling me.
I don’t understand how being gay works. I know what it means, because my dad explained it me when Ellen DeGeneres came out. It is when two girls or two boys are in love. Before that, I hadn’t known that was allowed. I thought if you fell in love with someone who was your same gender, you would just be out of luck. I thought it would make for an amazing book or movie and I figured I was the first person to come up with the idea.
What I don’t understand is the logic behind gay relationships. If you are a gay man, that means you act like a woman. So why are gay men attracted to each other then, since they aren’t attracted to women? The same with lesbians—if they are more like men, then why do they want to be together? It seems like an inherent flaw in the design.
I try to focus on make-believe, in and out of school. I don’t need other children either. I am constantly someone or something else in my mind, and soon it is second nature. If I see a movie I like, I warp into the hero almost immediately after leaving the cinema. The characters are my true identity—the girl who lives day to day, owns dolls, plays soccer, and practices the violin is not. I’m really Aladdin, or Simba, or Han Solo, or Peter Pan, depending on the day.
Before third grade begins, my second grade teacher calls in my mom for a meeting. She is concerned about my development because I am a tomboy. She thinks it is best to split me up from Dan and the other guys so that I can try to socialize with girls. Otherwise, I will grow up to be a manly woman. Or worse, Ellen DeGeneres.
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