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FRANKIE 2007:  The picture taken of me is of me holding my “Best Boyfriend” Trophy.  I am very proud of that trophy because I did a lot of work to earn it!  Presents, house cleaning, weekend trips, you name it.  But it is also important to me because it marks me as my partners Boyfriend.  This decision we arrived at together.  I am biologically female, but have had top surgery and only wear “mens” clothes.  I have a partner who truly understands me and my struggle with my identity.  Right now I identify as a tranny-butch.  Someone who is masculine but not male and definitely not female.  I am a boyfriend.  I am a gentleman.  And I try my hardest to stay in the middle.  In the blur of the lines drawn between male and female.  That is me:  that slight curve in that not so straight line, holding my trophy and being very proud.

FRANKIE 2011: I remember this moment, holding my best boyfriend trophy and feeling lots and lots of pride in earning it.  I’ve been with the same partner for 8 years now but I earned that trophy in the first year of our relationship.  At that time, I was still deciding on what I wanted my gender identity to be.  We were talking a lot of politics, identity, social constructs, and on and on.  I hadn’t had any of my surgeries yet and was still not on hormones (and am still not) but when we decided to “go steady” we had to decide what my label would be.  ”Partner” felt too serious for such a short amount of time.  ”Girlfriend” didn’t feel right.  It actually felt really wrong.  So, we decided to try out “boyfriend.”  That took some getting used to.  I wasn’t familiar or comfortable yet identifying with maleness, though I was quite comfortable identifying with masculinity.  But to be called a boy was different.  Strange.  Something I wasn’t used to and almost felt like a fraud using.  Over time, I came to love being called a boyfriend.  And, over time, I earned even more trophies.

But the title of the trophy isn’t the only thing important to me, but earning the trophy itself was as well.  I had a very abusive and dysfunctional childhood.  So, when I grew up feeling totally unworthy of anyone and anything, feeling ashamed, and alone, I decided that it was important to me to appreciate everyone in my life to the best of my ability.  If you are in my life, you need to feel loved.  Family, friends, and, yes, partners.  I spoil my partner every chance I get with presents, notes, flowers, and many many surprises, and even more “thank yous”.  More than just getting the trophy, I take even more pride in what it took to get it.  Knowing that my partner knows how much they are truly loved.  How much they are appreciated.  How much they mean to me.

I only wish that everyone in the world could feel as appreciated, too.