Growing up in Edmonton, Alberta, it’s not surprising that the summer camp I attended had a definite Western flavor to it. We rode horses, shot arrows, paddled canoes. I loved it, and wore my straw cowboy hat everywhere. With my short hair and athletic, flat-chested little body, I was often taken for a boy, and I never minded. After all, it seemed to me that boys had more fun! When the end of camp arrived one year, I was delighted to be given a beautiful poster drawing of a horse. When I turned it over, it announced, “Best Little Cowboy” as the award title. Wow! I was proud and honored.
Since then, I’ve mostly worn my hair short (dyke short) and caused confusion of a minor sort throughout my life. Even in my forties, supermarket checkers called me “Sir” on a semi-regular basis when I was out wearing a baseball hat and baggy shirt. I never minded.
To me, I’m just “Chris,” or with the people who have known me my whole life, “Christina.” I like clothes that are both traditionally male and female, and other than any awkwardness around a gender-specific bathroom, don’t care if people perceive me as male or female.
In today’s parlance, maybe that makes me a gender non-conformist, or gender-fluid, or non-binary. While my closest friends have always been cis-women, lesbian and straight, I’ve also had a significant number of cis-male, gay and straight friends. I identify as a female and mostly go about the world that way, but obviously not exactly the way other people go about in the world as female. I guess that makes me a bit of a square peg in a round hole.
This self-portrait was an attempt to resurrect the “Best Little Cowboy” in me. I live in the Sierra foothills now, where cowboy hats and plaid shirts are much more common, and I like it. A lot. My hair is longer than its been in awhile, so the challenge was to see if I could create a fifty-something cowboy with a bit of sass to it. The setup and photo session happened across from the street from our house, and my wife, helped me with the poses. I like how they turned out. They’re not quite as fierce as I hoped for, but they’re me. They’re Chris.