Clow Cards, Petticoats, and Gender.

(I'm likely going to rewrite chunks of this in the future as I feel like this could be a lot better put together, and it isn't my best writting for a topic so important to me. But I'll still leave this page up until I do.)

      I remember being 5 years old and watching tv. I didn't know what show I was watching, but this thought kept rattling around in my tiny brain. It got louder and louder as I watched the girl in the frilly pink poofy dress hop accross the roof tops. "Why can't I wear an outfit like that?".

      Only a couple weeks later my parents went to Blockbuster so I could rent a movie for the weekend. As I walked into the store I stopped at a small shelf with toys in red and purple packaging. They were from that show I had seen and was so transfixed by. I stared at one toy in particular, a plastic pink magical girl wand. It was undeniably cute with its little wings on top. I wanted it so bad, more than anything else in the store. But something in me told me I couldn't have it. A feeling of embarrasment washed over me, yet I had no idea WHY I felt this way. Standing there with a flushed face and a lump in my throat, my mom called me, and I snapped out of it. I walked out of the Blockbuster holding a tape with some episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on it.

       I don't remember watching that tape.

       That feeling from that night never left me. I would spend a lot of my childhood seeing girls my age dressing up for halloween as princesses and ballerinas, having backpacks and school supplies with Disney princesses on them, or playing dressup at after school daycare. I wanted so very badly to join them, but I could not.

      I would sheepishly close my bedroom door when I played Super Smash Bros: Melee. I'd play as Princess Peach and admire her gown, her grace, her voice, just everything last about her. I wanted to be her. In secret I would go to early Youtube and with deep envy I would watch clips from various girly anime. I'd admire the outfits in Cardcaptor Sakura, I'd gawk at the grace of the main character from Princess Tutu, and I'd yearn to be as pretty as all the characters from Sailor Moon.

      Halfway through High School I kind of just gave up, both on my dreams of being covered in frills and floof, and also on what people thought of me. I started to ask girls I knew about dresses and such things. Just waited for the rare chance for it to come up in conversation while hanging out after class. After a legnthy discussion about prom dresses one day, a friend said to me; "I would just love to make you a girl, y'know like do your makeup and pick a cute outfit for you!" This stunned me and I had no clue how to respond. That offer was never followed up on. I wonder if she was serious.

       Fast forward to my life right after graduating college. Many communities I was in were filled with transgender people and getting to hear their stories made me reflect heavily on myself. For a long time I told myself that I wasn't trans, that I was just an occasional crossdresser. But I remembered all the things I wanted growing up, and slowly I realized it wasnt JUST the dresses. By this point I owned several outfits, I had cosplayed as Princess Peach, and the top shelf of my closet was all Classical Puppets brand petticoats.

      My young adult life afforded me to be as frilly and floofy as I wanted to be, well at least at home or at video game conventions. Sometime in my early twenties it dawned on my I could just BUY a dress, nothing is stopping me. I remember telling my mom, a very progressive leaning art school grad from the height of the 80s, that I wanted to wear a dress, she was confused and had some questions, but ultimatly was like "whatever do what you want." So I went and ordered a maid uniform and a petticoat. The sensation of wearing that for the first time was incredible. The swishing and rustling of the petticoat, the soft feeling of the fabric, how nice the frills looked. It was what I had wanted, but something was off.

      I looked in the mirror and felt wrong. No matter what I wore, no matter how cute or floofy or frilly, I felt wrong. It slowly dawned on me that it wasnt the dresses I always had yearned for, but it was instead to flat out BE a girl. It was an oddly painful realization, so much made sense and yet it sent my life into a confusing and terrifying tailspin. I lost a lot of grip with reality and I just felt hopeless. I would look at myself and feel disgust, like I could never change this.

      As I write this, things are better. I am going on 29, and I have a wonderful and supportive girlfriend. I have yet to start HRT (soon) but I have grown out my hair. When I look in the mirror I can see some feminine features in my face and I feel good about where I am going to end up. There isn't really an answer to how I've attained this level of self acceptance unfortunatly. It was just time and slow growth and understanding. It was rough, but I came out the other end a calmer and happier person.

       And yes my closet is stuffed with frills.

       After understanding the wild domino effect this show has had on me, I've since gone and watched a good chunk of Cardcaptor Sakura as a grown adult. My feelings on the show are incredibly mixed. The beautiful animation, and the lovely outfits are without a doubt the best part of the show. I particularly enjoy the first handful of episodes of season 1, where its just Sakura discovering more about the Clow Cards and dealing with the latest monster of the week, while Tomoyo stuffs her in the latest frilly outfit she's put together for her. Its a cute dynamic and the puppy love crushes characters have on one another is very sweet.

       As the show goes on, however, it goes from something I adore with fervor, to something I'm less excited about due to one single thing. The show reveals that Tomoyo's mom is Sakura's mom's cousin, and that Tomoyo's mom was madly in love with Sakura's mom. That by itself is very strange, but this also means Tomoyo is Sakura's second cousin, and that sours the cute lesbian crush Tomoyo has for Sakura quite a bit. It goes from a sweet part of the show I really liked a lot, to just weird and sorta uncomfortable. They didn't need to make them related, it does nothing for the story and can thankfully be easily ignored. But that weird detail is going to sit in the back of my head no matter what I do.

      Regardless of that, the rest of the show is very cute. Its incredibly charming and often times comforting to watch. Its a sweet and happy show about love for everyone and everything. Despite its message stumbling here and there, its one I vibe with very hard. And frankly I am glad this show is what led to me discovering so much about myself.

      However, I don't think I will watch past the first couple seasons, and I have little interest in watching Clear Card. I don't care if this makes me a "fake fan" or whatever. There is various bits of Cardcaptor Sakura merch scattered across my room, from a replica clow book, to a figure of Sakura, and even my little CRT smattered with Cardcaptor stickers. The imagery from the show has shaped me in a deep way, and forms my earliest and strongest memories of struggling with my gender identity. It is a big place of comfort for me, and I find myself rewatching the earlier episodes with a smile.

      I still don't own that Trendmasters made Clow Staff I saw at Blockbuster all those years ago. I trawl ebay for a boxed one to this day, and am willing to spend too much on it.

One day I'll come full circle.