[Written in 2014 for my dissertation prospectus defense]
This dissertation will be written in part for the 10 year-old tomboy running wild through the woods of the Eastern Shore, climbing trees and through barn-lofts, swimming topless in the creek, who grew up with a sense of freedom and autonomy that many are not as privileged to have. I write this too, for the 16-year old coming to terms with her sexuality in a rural town, trying to balance personal identity with fitting into community. And for the 20-something year old activist fighting to create spaces for lgbt students and youth to feel safe and supported, who is heart-broken every time she learns that a queer youth has taken their own life. For all of us, who grew up a little “sideways” in a society that expected us to grow up heterosexual and gender-conforming; and for all the tomboys, the gender rebels, the princess boys, the queerbies, gaybies, and trans kids who are hopefully growing up into a world with more possibilities and diversity of being.