True LGBTQ stories

‘Tomboy’ Renee recalls shopping trip to ‘The Gap’ to fix gender

Renee Herndon

Renee Herndon

Renee Herndon

Renee Herndon

Renee was a “tomboy” as long as they can remember.

As a teenager, Renee was part of an all-girls youth group, and was asked to represent the group at a pageant weekend. Part of that involved wearing a gown.

Renee recalls:

My 15-year-old self decided that to wear this formal gown, I was going to wear it with a fedora and a tie and elbow-length gloves. It was my way of asserting some kind of gender mixing, like, “If I have to wear this formal gown, this is what I’m going to do, and this is how I’m going to do it, as me!”

Renee felt comfortable in the gender-mixed attire, but the mother of one of the other students did not. In an attempt to “fix” Renee’s gender, the mom took Renee to “The Gap” to find “more appropriate girly pants.”

I found some tight, flare-leg jeans, like, “Fine,” and we left. I think she really did want to do right by me, but all I could remember in that moment was my ears getting hot, and my stomach was in my throat, and I just wanted to cry. That moment was the first time I was really consciously aware of someone actively policing my gender. And this little tomboy kind of felt like they needed to go back in the closet.

Later, in college, Renee became more involved with the LGBTQ community and learned that some people identify with the pronouns “they,” “them,” and “their” — which Renee does now. Ultimately, says Renee, it’s about doing what makes you happy.

This is Renee’s true LGBTQ story:

“I’m from Driftwood,” a collection of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer stories from all over the world,” appears weekends on LGBTQ Nation. For more true LGBT stories, or to share your own, visit “I’m from Driftwood.”

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