As a young girl my parents bought me toys. Dollhouses and tea sets and, of course, Barbie. I begged for months to get a Ken doll. I wanted to be a Ken doll. The smooth swoosh of his body without sex. The mound where his sexual organs should be. I had slowly growing mounds myself, and I grew jealous. My breast tissue swelled with womanhood, and coarse hair needled out of my skin. I wanted to be Ken, and Barbie, and all of their friends. I wanted to be sexless. I wanted to be genderless.
Many years later, Ken and Barbie became my friends. They told me there was another way. Ken was now Kendall, Barbie now Bellamy. They asked me my name and it stuck in my throat. I spluttered, coughed, gagged on the weight of it. Kendall and Bellamy each held one of my hands. It could be easier. It wouldn’t be perfect, they said, but it would get better.
That night I took my name and put it on a pile of my old toys and clothes. I added unwanted birthday presents and unsolicited advances. I tore up Christmas cards. Then I sat atop my new throne. It prickled my legs, my spine, my brain. I struck a match, and dropped the newborn flame into my lap.
I awoke, hours later, in starchy sheets. A figure stood over me and spoke. I blinked but did not respond. They repeated the name. “I am Grey,” I said. “That person does not exist any more. I am here. She is dead.”