Everyone Goes to Prom — That’s What They Tell Me

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

I despised the idea of prom.

The word tasted like bitter liquid medicine that a whole glass of water couldn’t wash down. The subject itself twisted knots in my stomach.

It seemed like everyone else couldn’t wait for this expensive event. They excitedly talked as if they were children exchanging their Christmas lists.

There were two reasons why I hated the idea of prom.

People and dresses.

The wristband a nurse wrapped around my arm every time I went to the doctor still had that horrendous “F” on it for female. I didn’t feel female, but everyone loved to remind me that society saw me as one.

This “F” that I did my very best not to look at also meant that I had to wear a dress to prom. I vowed to myself that I would never go if I had to pretend to be something I wasn’t. I said to myself in the mirror, looking at myself as if I was telling myself wedding vows.

Eventually I was talked into it. It took a bribe of not having to pay the $80 fee and a promise that I wouldn’t have to wear a dress.

Pants or no dance — that was the deal.

A shiny red Nikon we had just taken out of the box a couple weeks ago was my date.

I would be the student photographer during Prom Night.

The deal was I wouldn’t have to wear a dress as long as I didn’t wear anything too masculine. I put together a purple button up found in the mens section, black men’s dress pants, and a women’s vest. It wasn’t too bad. It had flowers on it. It was just the thing I needed to not be “too masculine”. It was my cheat code.

I had already officially admitted to myself that I was transgender, but it was a secret I would never reveal to my classmates.

I had been in the same school system since kindergarten. I’d seen almost all of them grow up. They were a body of work. I could write a book about them; I still might.

My eyes glance across the dance floor.

I see people that I used to talk to back in simpler times. I see the girl that almost broke my arm for fun in the 4th grade. I see the girl that choked me until I could feel myself slipping into unconsciousness in the bathroom. I see all of the people that used to make my life hell with words that felt more like bullets.

It was always funny to me how are school motto is “We are family”. Almost everyone was lying to everyone about how they’d miss them terribly after we walked across that stage. People smiled in everyone’s face and would start talking about them as soon as they walked away. I might have said it to five people, and four of them are my best friends today – three years later.

Prom night was well underway.

I snapped pictures of people dancing. Some of them grabbed my attention so they could pose. Most of the time it was like I was watching them on a movie instead of being right there with them.

At times it felt like an invisible wall had been firmly planted between them and me. Most of my pictures came from people when they were completely unaware that I was there. They were lost in their precious prom night. Those made the best pictures.

The girl I found myself liking to was there too.

Every time I got too close, I could hear my heartbeat in my eardrums. She had a date. I avoided wherever she was for most of the night. However, I would glance her way just to make sure she was having a good time.

She was absolutely beautiful that night. I can still remember what her dress looked like and how she wore her hair down. I remember the way his hand stayed on the small of her back.

Of course she has a date- she’s incredible,

I told myself. A pang of jealousy stabbed me, but I swallowed the pain like a bitter pill.

Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash

In a perfect world, I would’ve asked her if I could’ve been the one to take her to prom.

I would’ve worn a suit. The school we attended in a small town in the rural south wouldn’t have given us hell about it. We would’ve matched and took cute pictures. I wouldn’t have been too anxious to grab her hand and tell her how beautiful she looked. She would’ve smiled at me with that amazing smile of hers – the one that made everything else in my mind disappear.

In a perfect world I would have known all about men’s formal wear and cologne. She would’ve been mine for the evening. We would dance, talk, and enjoy the night in each other’s company.

In the real world, I was just a student photographer.

I wasn’t out to anyone. I was just a girl that had nothing feminine about her. I was trapped in a lie I promised to ride until the wheels fell off.

I longed to wear a tie and put a corset on a girl’s arm — one girl’s arm in particular. Instead, I just walked around and snapped pictures of other people having a good time. The music filled whatever space the dance floor left.


I hope you enjoyed this piece, and I hope you have an amazing day!




"My pen isn't afraid to speak the truth" - Marsha Ambrosius

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"My pen isn't afraid to speak the truth" - Marsha Ambrosius

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