Amy Hunter

I'm the Wrong Dress Size

Filed By Amy Hunter | November 20, 2010 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: hate crimes against LGBT people, Transgender Day of Remembrance

A dear friend of mine, Tucker Rafferty, after reading from Surfacing, a collection of essays I had penned, asked permission to adapt them into a one-woman show. The following was adapted from an essay titled "I'm the Wrong Dress Size". I never intended that the essay become a monologue and I certainly never intended that I should perform the piece. A mutual friend however, read some of the dramaturgy and suggested that an excerpt be included in a benefit concert for the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center. The result is below.

"Wrong Dress Size" has been performed on a number of occasions since, including, at the opening of the "Coming Out, Proud" film festival in Kalamazoo and during Transgender Day of Remembrance observances.

Transgender Day of Remembrance was established to pay respect to those in the trans community who have met an untimely end through the hatred of an ignorant society. While controversy surrounds including other victims of violence, such as those who have attempted suicide, in the observance of DoR, many people are recognizing that we must address the issues underlying that violence too if we are to eradicate senseless death from our community.

"Wrong Dress Size" explores one woman's struggle to overcome the effects of a senseless act of violence perpetrated on her by, of all people, her mother.

"I'm the Wrong Dress Size", after the jump.

In the darkness we hear SHE'S voice.

When I was four, my mother slapped my face.
Three hospitals. Two marriages. One Child.
When I was four, my mother slapped my face.
Three Suicide attempts. Two bankruptcies. One Wrecked Career.
When I was four, my mother slapped my face.

Lights up. SHE is seated at a dressing table - her evening ritual, ending the day.

One of my earliest memories is of listening to my mother get ready for work. I would lie awake and hear the rustle of her dress moving from the bathroom to the closet and back again. The sound of her make-up kit clattering on the sink. Muted grunts and groans as she wrestled with a pair of nylons. I could smell the heat of hot rollers mixed with Aqua-Net and finally the smell of her musky perfume being sprayed too thickly around her entire body. There would be a pause and then she would let out a sigh. Sometimes the sigh was a satisfied sigh, other times; dissatisfied, almost a groan telling me that something was not quite right. On those mornings I made sure to tell her how pretty she was and she would kiss my cheek. Never a word just a kiss and then she would wipe away the lipstick with her forefinger and thumb and I'd hear her rustle to the car.


One morning after hearing my mother leave I cautiously crept into her bathroom. No, I didn't creep I was pulled like metal to magnet, as if I didn't have a choice. As if my compass had been pointed in this direction since birth. I found myself in front of her sink. Hanging from the sink were a pair of silk stockings, the one's she wore on Sunday when she and my dad would take us to church. I held them to my face. They felt like heaven. They felt like me. I sat on the edge of her bed and pulled each one up to the top of my thighs. They were way too big, too big to hold themselves up so I held them up with my little hands. I stood up. I stood up straighter than I'd ever been. I felt beautiful and alive.


I looked down and something strange was happening inside my Tony The Tiger Pajama's. I was becoming aroused for the first time. It wasn't sexual. I wasn't turned on. I was alive. I was complete. I was, for the first time, me. There I was, standing in my Tonys, a pair of my mother's silk stockings up to my thighs and a smile as wide as a rainbow. And my first erection standing proudly poking its way through Tony.


Mother walked in. Her mouth dropped. Not a word. She walked to me and slapped me across the face and slammed the door. I felt myself, my real self sink. Submerge.

Everything I thought and felt pointed in what I was being told was the wrong direction. My compass wasn't broken. It wasn't broken that morning and it wasn't broken for all of the years that I lie submerged under the surface.

(lights change)


When I was four, my mother slapped my face.
Sinking, descending, struggling, colder, darkness, drowning, pressure.

When I was four, my mother slapped my face.


I am haunted by water. The placid lakes where not a ripple can be found. The rhythmic beat of the surf roaring ashore. The babbling brook. The rocky rapids. The Muddy Mississsip. Superior is said to never give up its dead. They scare the hell out of me. Always have. Always will. It's what lies beneath the surface that frightens me. The idea that there are things that have been covered up and forgotten by time. Things that should never again come to the top because they will be unrecognized by those that lost and loved them. I told my father this when I was a boy. He said that there are also buried treasures under there. He told me this just before he picked me up and threw me into the water and told me to swim.


(lights change)

All that time I stayed, beneath the surface of the very thing which frightened me the most. Breathless, immersed. Inanimate and hopeless, Self-consigned, to endless convection in currents I couldn't master or, begin to understand.

The bottom had been very deep, the ascent long. I smile...the arrogance-the assumptions of a four year old...
It wasn't that I couldn't learn to swim-it hadn't been the water at all...I had needed to wait...
...for the stockings to fit.

I was four, my mother slapped my face.


I honestly believe that each of us, have a central fact to our lives that helps define and most importantly, connects us to the rest of this world.

Most of the time, all of us are particularly unaware that this point to our existence is even there. Many never become aware of their fact at all, others, only partially. A fortunate few have been granted a moment of clarity which allows them to confront fully just who and what they really are.

It is precisely at this unburdened moment, the moment we surface and breathe deeply, for perhaps the first time that we truly join. It is only then, with new-found humility, that we become completely present.

I had been wearing the wrong clothes, over the wrong skin, with the wrong accessories...and I had gotten the dress size wrong too.

I was four, my mother slapped my face.


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I got chills when I read this. very moving.

Good for you Amy. It's very moving. I hope more of your writings reach more people. It creates a better understanding and helps to enlighten people to the real humanity of all people.


You're a stronger person than I am Amy. I barely survived two suicide attempts, and one marriage.

Perhaps the oddest thing is how those of us who share this affliction all seem to have trod the same ground. It is almost like one story with different names, dates, and places moved around at times.

Oh and I envy your writing skills.

rosietheriveter | November 21, 2010 6:13 AM

Thank you for sharing this.

Very well written, Amy. It's so beautiful in it's simplicity

Tucker Rafferty | February 15, 2011 12:15 AM

Very nicely written Let me finish it.