If I were to create a baby book for my transgender child, it would have the standard milestones in it: when she took her first step, her first food, when she got her first tooth. (Of course, being the second child, the poor kid barely has anything in her baby book as it is!)
But I would add in some new categories, too. When she picked her new name, her first day at school as a girl, her first Christmas as Rose. The day we sat down on the couch together with a book of baby names to figure out her middle name.
This was our second Christmas together with Rose as Rose. The first one came hard on the heels of her coming out to us and then changing her name. Our family is spread far and wide, and we didn’t have a chance to tell everyone before they sent their holiday gifts to her and her sister. We didn’t worry much about gendered gifts upsetting her, because both girls have always played with pretty much everything. Blue, pink, green, polka dotted, black, silver. Legos, tools, dolls, video games, art supplies, books…anything goes. Heck, Rose asked Santa for a vacuum cleaner when she was two. And he came through.
But we did worry about tags. She wanted the tags to have her new name on them, and was young enough that she didn’t fully grok the logistics of time, space, and the USPS.
I wrote a lot of new tags that year to pop on over the original tags, while reminding her gently that she was loved no matter what the name on the tag said, and that next year everyone would have had time to get the news that she was a girl.
It didn’t hit me until the day after Christmas this year that I didn’t have to switch any tags. I didn’t even think to check the tags before she saw them. She has so fully become Rose in my mind that I completely forgot the tension of change and adjustment of the year before. And apparently, so has everyone else.
How. Freakin’. Cool.
We hit another milestone recently, too. Facebook likes to pop up with “share your memories” options, looking back on today’s date in your personal history. Two years, four years, seven years ago. It’s a neat snapshot look at your past, and I greatly enjoy the walks down memory lane. But up until recently, I haven’t felt free to share those cute photos of the kids from when they were younger, because most of them have Rose’s old name on them. Her old haircut, her old clothes. This other self she no longer portrays.
But now we’re two years out. Two years of cute photos, two years of Rose being called Rose, two years of past photos I can now share like other parents do. I have to say, it feels really good.
We will always have these quirky considerations when we look back on our past. We will always edit our baby stories for those who don’t know that Rose is transgender, framing everything as “she” and “her,” and editing out stories that make it evident that we used to think she was a boy. Like the time she peed three feet up the wall next to her changing table because I didn’t know that a newborn with a penis needed something over that particular body part when in the middle of changing a diaper. Her older sister hadn’t prepared me for that experience. We will always have to be careful about the early photos we frame and put up on the wall in our home, where school friends come over and neighbors visit. We will always have to watch our words when it comes to expressing our memories.
But as time marches on, winding its inevitable way through our lives and our memories, Rose becomes ever more Rose. That baby boy I loved becomes a baby Rose in my memories rather than the lost child he first felt like when Rose transitioned. That sense of grief is overtaken with a sense that she has always been who she is. The same way time softens the sharp edges of my memories of labor and birth, time is softening the sharp edges of my memories of the worry and fear I experienced as we struggled to figure out what was the best thing we could do for our child. And as we move forward from her transition anniversary the words, the pictures, the stories I have to share are thoroughly Rose.
Dear readers, if you are a parent just starting out on this journey, it really does get better.