I suppose I knew that there were two different kinds of people and they behaved in distinct ways. I also knew that my Nanay, the Tagalog word for mother that I used for my grandmother who raised me, wore dresses and she did not buy me dresses. She wore her hair long and I did not wear my hair long.
But she took me to the market and taught me how to haggle. She let me play Chinese garter and jacks with the children in dresses. And sometimes, she cut her hair short. And plenty of times she wore pants. I helped her cook by grating coconut. I didn’t like sitting with my grandfather and drinking, though I did sit on his lap sometimes when he played cards, and I sat on my grandmother’s lap when she played mahjong.
Whenever anyone talked about me, they said kanya, siya, niya, pronouns that did not identify me as belonging to either the longhairs or the shorthairs, the skirtwearers or the pantswearers. I was not a son but a child, not a nephew but a nephew-equivalent whose gender was unspecified.”