Jill Soloway First Realized They Were Weird At Their Jewish Middle School
Say what you will about Lena Dunham but Lenny, her online feminist newsletter that harvests personal essays from celebrities and “normals” alike, is often full of little gems.
Like, for example, the essay in this morning’s newsletter, published by Jill Soloway, creator of the hit shows “Transparent” and “I Love Dick.” Titled “I Am Weird,” Soloway talks about coming into their own as a “weird girl.”
Soloway, who identifies as gender non-binary, says the first time they realized they were weird was at the Jewish day school they attended for a couple of years as a pre-teen. This move followed years spent as the only white family in a black neighborhood.
Around middle school, though, we changed schools, to a tiny Jewish day school. I was confronted with mean girls for the first time. Our fifth-grade class had five boys and four girls. I was the new fifth girl. That made us ten kids. This should be easy, I thought — for the first time I was around people like me. Everyone was Jewish and from liberal families in Hyde Park, which was one neighborhood to the south and would ultimately become the home of one Barack Obama. But these girls, the Rachels and Debbies and Miriams, they straight-up hated me. They hated the fuck out of me. These nine kids had been in a Jewish day school from the age of zero and had been learning Hebrew, Holocaust, and upper-level science with real dissection in locked arms ever since. I was lost, but I didn’t know it.
There was something wrong with me, and I didn’t know what it was.
Soloway eventually transferred out of that school and went on to feel weird in a different way – a way, they say, that’s familiar to all girls.
Transforming from a weirdo into an object that boys and men of all ilk wanted did not help my shame. In fact, it might have made it worse as it all went down below. Most people thought I was happy because I looked like the idea of whatever cute looked like then. But the acting had started. I think all girls feel weird. Actually, so many people of all gender identities feel odd and weird, don’t feel natural about sex. The script became an idea for me, like an entering-into-evidence in the court of public opinion, like testimonies.
Luckily, everything seems to have worked out for Soloway in the end. Their television shows are an emotional anchor for many modern-day weirdos out there.
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Becky Scott is the editor of The Schmooze. Follow her on Twitter at @arr_scott