During the first semester after high school, Taylor enrolled in drafting classes at his local Community College. He was not a fan of settling in the small town where he grew up. At the same time, he was content, for now, with his current situation. There was little formal responsibility weighing on him. He had a private place, his part-time job covered his necessities, and his friends were around when he needed them.
He never paid much attention to the propagandas pasted on the billboards and bathroom doors throughout the main building. One, in particular, however, repeatedly grabbed his attention. It took him most of a week to take a good look at it, but then he found it difficult to push it from his mind.
Look-A-Like Halloween party
Sponsored by LGBTQ+ Club
All are invited
The party was scheduled for the Saturday night before Halloween at the neighboring campus 30 miles away. Taylor had never considered himself on the trans-gender scale. He did notice now, though, feelings being aroused by these advertisements. Several buried memories of dressing up playfully as a young boy resurfaced to further fuel his emotions. Taylor did not know anybody at the neighboring college. Only a few of his friends participated actively in that community. Finally, he convinced himself that he should attend, though he had no idea what to do for a costume. And he only had a couple of weeks to find one.
Taylor wanted his costume to wow, but be easily recognizable. His search began with a simple web search for an iconic female character for inspiration. Disney princesses were a hidden, guilty pleasure. There were many to choose from: Anna, Cinderella, Belle, and Rapunzel, to name his favorites. It seemed, however, there would be a risk of multiples of any of these. Soon, he had a small list consisting of Red Riding Hood, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and Princess Poppy.
“Mom!” excited, kindergarten-aged Taylor bolted into the house after getting off the school bus. "Our class Halloween party is next week!"
He anxiously threw his backpack on the couch and ran into the kitchen to find his mom sitting at the table with an extra sandwich for his lunch. “That’s great, honey. What are you going to be?” “I’m going to be a clown!” Taylor responds without skipping a beat.
Several days passed, but they were well-spent on the best clown costume a 5-year-old boy could imagine. A colorful set of rubber bands wrapped around his nose and held the red yarn pompon to his nose. Shredded plastic grocery bags made a make-shift wig. His favorite button-down shirt clung to his body. A pair of overly-large shorts, held up by his best Sunday suspenders, wrapped up his costume. But his mother had different plans. He followed his mother into his his sister's room. His face grew bright red with embarrassment as he watched her pull a pair of red tights from the dresser. There was no way she was serious about him wearing those tights.
Shaken by the sudden onset of such a flashback, Taylor was now confused. He was unmistakably nervous about the party. Was it the excitement of doing something new? Or was it a subconscious loathing of the very idea? Was his mom onto something by insisting that he wear Shellie's clothing? Was he wrong to refuse such a rare opportunity? Now torn, Taylor decided to eat some dinner and get some rest. He found it hard to clear his mind, though. After some persistence, he finally drifted into a light sleep.
Once at school, Taylor casually unloaded his backpack into his desk. He pulled out his favorite notebook with a skier on the cover and gently set it on his desk. After removing his reading folder, something brushed his leg as it fell to the floor. His face went bright red once more as he could feel his classmates staring at him. Quickly, he picked up his red tights and placed them into his bag. He was hoping that nobody would recognize them. Despite the fun activities throughout the day, he could not bring himself to have any fun. He was embarrassed beyond belief, whether anybody noticed his tights or not.
Taylor jolted upright with this life-like memory hitting him like a ton of bricks. As a child, he had entirely buried this experience. But here he was, remembering it like it was yesterday. By now, sleepiness had fled from him. Anxiety had replaced the need to sleep. He felt like he had peeled back the first couple of layers of a potent onion. Unable to shake his emotions, Taylor started a classical musical playlist, laid back down, and eventually returned to restless sleep.
Nightmares of the kindergarten Halloween party continued to plague his sleep. His shorts turned into a red plaid skirt, and he could see the tights running down his legs to a pair of black Mary Jane flats with a bow on the strap. His classmates laughed at him for wearing his clown skirt to school. After running into the restroom to change out of his costume, he sensed no change in the jeering and name-calling. He had traded his clown outfit for a charcoal, cap-sleeved dress with flowers on the bodice. The kids who were supposed to be his friends continued to taunt him, calling him a little girl. Some students grabbed his tights from him, throwing them back and forth, playing a game resembling piggy in the middle. Variations of these nightmares played in his mind through the night.