I voted both, but that is only because in the generation I was born [mid 50s in conservative, midwest America] boys were expected (and rightly so) to be “men”. In real life my dad and mother’s father were men I wanted to be like but only because that is what my culture expected from me.
From an early age (5 yrs old) I sensed something amiss. My body showed I was a boy; my heart said, “no, I am a girl.” I wanted to be like my sisters, or my girl cousins (well some of them anyway).
We lived out in the country and road the school bus to school (second pick up so the ride to and from was well over an hour). Oh how I wanted to be like Joyce, Kathy, Helen, Rita – to just be able to enter into that small sorority of the “big girls” sitting at the back of the bus. I was one of the older boys who also was able to sit at the back and I did, but not because that was my privilege as an older boy (middle school 7, 8th grade). No, I chose to sit there so I could be mesmerized by the girl talk. Oh the whispering about their new training bra, their giggling as they discussed learning to use make up, their lamenting at how cold the seats were on their thighs (no pants on girls then, mid thigh skirts and tights or pantyhose), their swooning over that special boy. I longed for entrance and acceptance into those conversations, but I was a boy. At times I would struggle to hold back the tears because as that boy I forbidden to be part of that. Yes those girls were role models I was forbidden to emulate. High school and college were much the same story.
Outwardly John Wayne was a male role model, ah but inwardly I really longed to be like Elizabeth Montgomery, (Bewitched), Mary Tyler Moore, Anette Funicello (Mousketeers), Julie Andrews (Sound of Music at al).
By 17 I understood I wanted to be a girl. I don’t believe at that time I understood that those Longings were there because I really was a girl at heart. That would come later, perhaps too late. Longings to be a girl were painfully intense. Women who understood the power of their femininity and used that power subtly yet ever so powerfully were my real role models. Thus years of conflict, unfortunately even unto this day. And sadly at my age and with my family obligation I can’t perceive ever being able to be like my secret role models, though of my own womanhood I am still sure. I am a woman, and to reach my full potential as such is not a dream I am yet willing to surrender.