Tuesday, June 22, 2021
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Don’t Fence Me In

Young trans boys want the same things as any other boys growing up. I was no different. I liked being outside and getting dirty and I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d have broken records for wearing through the knees of my jeans. I’m pretty sure I mastered that challenge with a record time of less than two weeks to wear holes in at least one of the knees. Oh, and the patches that my mom sewed on them usually “fell off” in even less time than that! Everyone knows that cowboys do not wear patches on their jeans!

Don't Fence Me In
Hawaii, Silhouette Of Boy Leading Horse Along Grassy Hillside At Sunset.

And what little boy doesn’t want to play cowboy at some point? This is especially true when you are not a city dweller and have access to horses. When I look back on the few times when the adults in my life had no care whether or not I was male or female, our weekends camping always stand out. Having a large family makes it difficult to find family-friendly activities without spending a fortune and camping always fit the bill. We spent most summer weekends at the campground. Friday and Saturday nights were for the typical campfire sing-alongs, while Saturday and Sunday mornings were for horseback riding. A group of 6 or 7 of us who were known as the “regular” teenaged campers would rise before the sun and walk several miles down the gravel road to round up and saddle the horses and ponies for all the younger kids in the campground to ride.

This was dirty, hard work and often the heat and humidity in the fields and barn left trails of dust dripping down our faces as we swatted the horseflies and wrangled the horses that wanted to fight their saddles. I didn’t care. I was wearing my cowboy boots and hat and my mud-caked pant legs showed every bit of the battle of readying 20-30 horses. Once saddled for the ride, we tied them together and rode the group to the campground for the already lined up kids to enjoy their morning trip through the campground where they could wave at their parents as they passed and stop for the occasional Polaroid photo.

Often the day was still early as the last of the young kids dismounted. It was time for the big kids to ride. After a quick stop back at the barn to feed and water the bulk of the group, we each mounted our favorite horse and either headed to the trails for a more aggressive ride or rode down to a nearby ranch where they held small local horse shows. We all loved to watch the events and a few of us joined in on the fun. My favorite event was the barrel racing and my horse was always ready for the quick turns and hard, fast run. He never disappointed and I often brought back one of the satiny blue ribbons with “1st Place” stamped on it in gold foil print. I’m sure the ranch bought them in bulk, but it didn’t make it any less fun to shove one in my back pocket for the ride back to the barn.

Don't Fence Me In

We’d spend the afternoon rubbing down the horses then we would work our way back to the campground where some of us kicked off our boots, drank Grape and Strawberry Crush pop and ate ice cream bars. Then the girls hit the showers while the boys jumped fully clothed into the lake to cool off. It didn’t matter if some days the sun warmed the water, that lake was almost as refreshing as the cold pop we’d just drank. We were boys being boys.

Author’s note: this post is also being cross-published on my personal blog at www.TheWriteTrans.com. Please, feel free to check out some of my other posts there.

Terry Willits
I'm an international mixed media artist, writer, LGBTQ advocate, coffee snob, dog dad, and FTM transgender - but not necessarily in that order - and I practice what I post. Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; I now do the art thing in St. Louis, Missouri. You should check out my work - it's recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend stuff.


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