Gender Identity – sometimes nature gets it wrong

During the summer holidays the Bourne family would head to their cabin retreat, far away from the city pace. It was in located near a recreation lake. The surrounding area was dotted with other cabins, either as holiday cabins or permanent residents.

The Bourne's cabin closest neighbours were the Trenwalls, only 50 metres away. This family were permanent residents of the area.

The Bourne's have one child, Simon who is six. He would play with the Trenwall's only daughter Cally who was twelve years. They had pretty much grown up together.


The Bourne's had just arrived when Simon jumped from the car "I'm going to see Cally"

"Simon….. Make sure you are back for dinner" yelled his mother.

Simon ran over to the neighbour's cabin and climbed the veranda stairs. He knocked excitedly on the door.

It opened and Simon was met with a big smile "Hello Simon, holidays already"

"Hello Mrs Trenwall, can I see Cally?"

"Of course dear." Cally's mother opened the door and called out "Cally… someone to see you"

The sound of footsteps was heard coming down the passageway of the small cabin. Cally entered the kitchen and smiled "Simon…. Wow haven't you got taller"

"Yes you have had a growth spurt. Alright outside and play, it is too nice to be inside." Said Cally's mother

As they both ran outside Cally's mum warned "Don't go near the lake, I mean it. You have the playground at the back of the cabins. Be back for dinner and Cally make sure you look after Simon."

"Yes mum"

They ran to the playground located not far from the cabins. Cally got to the swing first.

"ha ha beat you, beat you" she laughed

"aawww but you got longer legs than me" Simon whined as he took the other swing.

They kicked back and forth, Cally looking over to her younger friend. His brown hair cut short made his ears stick out. Cally never teased him because he would end up crying.

"I'm in high school next year. Yeh, life is going to be different for me" she announced proudly.


"um, it just will. I mean I probably will have a boyfriend soon and won't have much time to play anymore"

Simon put on his sad face "you mean you won't play with me anymore"

"Well you are very young, you know a baby"

"Am not" he argued.

"Yeah, you are Simon"

Simon burst into tears "I don't want you not to be my friend. I won't have anyone to play with" trying to catch his breath between his crying.

Cally got off the swing and gave him a hug "I will always be your friend Simon; I'm just saying I may not have the time. You understand right"

"No" he said gruffly.

Cally rubbed his hair "C'mon, race you to the slippery dip"

Simon and Cally spent the rest of the afternoon on the playground. Simon went for a drink from the fountain while Cally talked to some other kids. He was about to leave when two kids stood in front. Simon tried to move but they blocked him.

"Well, well if it isn't big ears" one boy said pulling at Simon's ears.

"Don't, that hurts" Simon cried out in pain.

"I'll give you something that hurts" the other twisted his arm until Simon felt it burn.

Simon cried out and they pushed him to the ground.

Cally looked over to the commotion and recognised the bullies. They were the brothers Boyd, and they always picked on the smaller ones. Cally rushed over and pushed past. Simon was on the ground crying, holding his arm.

Cally got up "Leave him alone you idiots, he is only a little boy"

Simon was still whimpering

"oooohhh poor little boy" said one and kicked him in the side of the leg.

Cally got up and with little thought punched him in the face. He grabbed his nose and screamed when he saw the blood.

"You want me to break your nose too" threatened Cally.

"I'm telling Mum on you" he warned.

Cally stepped forward and they both ran off.

Cally walked Simon back to her place and sat in the kitchen. She got out the first aid kit and bandaged him up with two bandaids one on his knee and another on his arm.

"See all better" she told him smiling and placing a gentle kiss on his knee.

Simon's eyes were still puffy from crying and Cally threw her arms around him "It's ok, I won't let them hurt you ever again"

A few days into his holidays, Simon wandered over to Cally's who was having a party with some of her girlfriends. They were all dressed up and putting make up on each other. Cally tried to discourage Simon, but her Mum had different ideas.

Simon sat up in the room playing with Cally's dolls while the girls tried on different outfits, constantly giggling over things Simon didn't understand. He wandered over and tried to participate. He took his shirt off and put one of Cally's blouses and tried to step inside a skirt when the room broke into giggles.

"Simon…. What are you doing" Cally scolded.

"I want to dress up, I want to do what you're doing"

"It's only for girls" laughed one girl.

"Maybe he is a girl" spoke another and they laughed.

Simon with no idea about the fuss, tried to continue when Cally stopped him "Simon is a boy, and Simon you can't dress up in girl clothes. It's not natural, you are a boy and boys don't do that."

"Why" as he tried to stop Cally undressing him.

"Because it's not right, you just don't."

"Hey, let's put make up on him" suggested another friend.

Simon went over to her but Cally stopped "No, you are not putting make up on either. Just go and play in the other room. There are building blocks and toys."

"But I want to play with the dolls, I want to do what you are doing"

"SIMON NO" she pushed Simon out and shut the door.

Simon wandered towards the play room and stopped to use the toilet. He found it uncomfortable to wear both pants and skirt so he took his pants off. When he washed his hands in the bathroom he noticed a bag with makeup exposed. He grabbed each item and played with it.

Cally's mum opened up her door "You girls want something to drink?"

"Yes please" they chorused.

Cally's mum looked about "Where is Simon?"

Cally groaned "He was being annoying; he's in the play room"

"He is only young Cally." She reminded.

Cally's mum walked off passing the bathroom and stopped, then quickly walked back.

"Good heavens, CALLY get here now miss" yelled her mum

Cally did as she was told and stopped at the bathroom "I thought I told you to keep an eye on him, what a mess"

Simon had painted his face with lipstick and blush. Nail polish on his fingers, not his nails and curlers stuck in his hair. Simon looked at the two and smiled "I've dressed up" he opened his arms proud of his appearance.

"What is he doing wearing your skirt and your new top. Oh now it has a lipstick stain all over it" whined Cally's mum.

"Oh Simon you idiot, you have ruined my blouse"

By then the girls had come down and were all laughing as was Simon. Cally wasn't and neither was her mum.

"C'mon young man let's get you cleaned up before your mother finds out my daughter has been trying to turn you into a doll."

"I was not"

Simon smiled "You told me to go and play"

"Liar" snarled Cally.

"Am not"

"Stop arguing both of you. Come with me Simon and as for you girls, you may all go home. As for you young lady" turning her attention to her daughter "are grounded for the rest of the day."

"What, it's not my fault, that is soooo unfair." she stomped away

Simon was sitting at the kitchen table as Cally's mum cleaned him up.

"Can we do it again?" asked Simon.

"No Simon, you can't play with makeup, it's for girls only. Well, except if you are a clown." She pinched his chin "and you young man have clowned around enough today. Home you go" she pat him lightly on the behind and sent him home.

A few days later Simon was out playing in the yard with his ball when Cally came from her cabin. Simon tried to get her to play but she was still angry and ignored him. Cally headed towards the lake and Simon followed.

"Simon, go away and leave me alone you annoying brat"

"I want to come"

"I'm going to the lake and you can't come"

"You are not allowed to go to the lake by yourself"

"I'm older than you"

"I'm telling on you." Simon went to run off when Cally grabbed him.

"Fine you can come you baby"

"I'm not a baby"

They continued to bicker when they reached the small sandy beach. Simon played with his ball and threw it at Cally. She was on her towel sunbaking and threw the ball away.

"Play with me" begged Simon.

"You are annoying, go play somewhere else" she took his ball and kicked it away.

It landed in the lake, Simon stood and watched it "Cally can you get my ball?"

"Get it yourself" she retorted paying no attention to him.

"But I'm not allowed" he whined.

"You are the biggest baby, you scared sissy"

"I'm not a sissy, don't call me that" he growled.

"sissy, sissy, can't get his ball." Cally put her face down enjoying the sun on her back.

Simon pulled his pants up as high as they could go on his little legs, then tentatively waded in a little, his ball just out of reach. He slowly stepped closer and stretched for it, but it floated away. Frustratedly he then lunged at it and disappeared completely under the water. He surfaced quickly, thrashing, trying to yell. He sunk again, struggling under the water. His clothes were weighing him down. Every time he tried to breathe, he swallowed water.

Cally heard the sudden noise and looked up just in time to see Simon go under. She rushed to the water "Simon… Simon" she screamed

She quickly waded into the water and reached down grabbing something heavy. She dragged him out crying, yelling for help. Simon's body lie motionless on the beach. Cally screamed and pounded his chest. She breathed into his mouth as she had seen on the TV. All of a sudden he spat up water and began choking. Cally turned him onto his side and rubbed his back. He breathed finally, then the sound Cally wanted to hear most of all, him crying.

Cally pulled him into her cuddling him "I'm so sorry Simon, I never meant for this to happen. Oh my god please be ok." She kissed his head, rocking him back and forth to sooth his cries. "please please don't say anything to our parents, they will never let me see you again." Cally also crying from the scare, the realisation Simon nearly drowned and it was all her fault for not looking after him.

Simon shook uncontrollably and still scared from the recent events didn't move from her arms for almost an hour.

Cally made sure their clothes were driy before heading back to the cabins. Cally walked Simon all the way to his cabin door and knelt in front of him.

"Promise me you won't say anything, please Simon. I will never get to see you again if they find out."

Simon wiped his eyes "I promise" Cally hugged and kissed him.


Simon's holiday had finally come to an end and he never liked leaving. It always ended up in tears and tantrums followed by being dragged to the car kicking and screaming.

Cally came over and gave him a picture she had drawn of them both playing on the swings. They hugged and Cally kissed Simon on the lips "See you next year. I wonder how big you will be then."

Simon held his arm up as tall as he could "This big"

It was the last time Cally saw Simon. His parents had become too busy to return to the cabin for the holidays. They lost contact with each other.

15 Years later

"Mr Bourne…. Simon" came a gentle voice.

Simon opened his eyes and looked at the woman who was gently shaking him. "Sorry, I must have dozed off."

"You need to take your meds now"

Simon sat up from his hospital bed and took his eight coloured pills. "um nurse please don't call me that" in a low voice

"I'm sorry…. Yes of course"

Simon opened his sleepy eyes to someone with a surgical mask on, looking down on him. "We are about to start the procedure. Are you sure you don't want your parents?"

"No…. look I know the risks, please Dr Jenz I just want to get this done"

Simon's eyes closed completely as the anaesthesiologist increased the dose putting him under. Simon Bourne died that day on the operating table.