I legitimately forget sometimes that my daughter used to live as a boy. In our everyday routine of school, homework, video games, chores, dinner together, and finding lost shoes, my daughter is just wholly, completely, and happily my daughter. We admire Jazz Jennings in our household. A lot. We talk about transgender heroes and role models like Laverne Cox and the groundbreaking work they have done to raise awareness and acceptance of being transgender. But my daughter chooses not to be out as a transgender girl. She does not want to be a role model, an advocate, or a hero. She wants to be a girl. Plain and simple. So sometimes I forget that she was ever considered a boy. I see how happy she is since she transitioned to living her truth full time, almost two years ago. The child she is now is light years away from the child she was, anxious and angry and unhappy. Her light shines bright these days and it is very easy to fall into that light and think that everything is okay. But every year we have a well child check-up and I am forcefully reminded that even though she is happy as a girl, she is not okay with being transgender. It’s called gender dysphoria. My daughter is deeply unhappy with the male aspects of her physical body. When she...Read More
Two years ago this November, my child came to me and said that she was a girl. No big deal. Except that she had been identified by a doctor at birth as male, and had lived her life up until that point as a boy. Two years. In two years, she has changed schools, changed names, changed hair, changed clothes, changed gender terms. As that anniversary approaches, I think about what we haven’t changed. Her legal identity. In Connecticut, this involves some paperwork, $150, and a trip to Probate Court. Once approved, her name will officially be Rose.* The name we carefully chose for our baby boy, with love and care in our hearts, will no longer exist. When a parent chooses a name for their baby, they never think that it will change. Maybe he’ll pick up a nickname or two. Maybe she’ll drop her middle name for her maiden name when she gets married. But that first name? That’s an identity. That’s a symbol of love and tradition and a parent’s involvement in a child’s life. ….Isn’t it? I’ve gotten weepy a few times. Raising a child means constant adjustment to change for any parent. Raising a transgender child raises that by a factor of ten. I have found myself grieving for the child I sometimes feel I lost, even as I rejoice in the beautiful, amazing...Read More
Something very special happened today. I went to my girls’ school to drop off paperwork for my older daughter, and I saw my younger daughter on the playground. She waved excitedly at me, and then turned around and went back to playing with her friends. And I wanted to cry with joy. For some background, when she started school — in a different school district — she was a little boy who loved to wear pink sparkly dresses with astronaut rain boots. She hid her love of pink when she started school, because she already knew that boys weren’t “supposed to” like the color pink or wearing dresses. The school counselor called me on the third day of school to suggest that she wear sneakers like the rest of the kids so that she would fit in. Little did she know that was the LEAST of my concerns. I suggested that she encourage the other kids to be more accepting of diversity instead of modeling a need to conform. During this time, it routinely took five adults to peel her off me — and the car’s door frame — screaming and crying to get her into the school building in the morning. They would always call me an hour later and tell me that she had settled in, but clearly, she knew that she didn’t feel safe and she...Read More
I sometimes wonder how those men who live double lives with a family in two different cities do it. How do they keep it all straight? I would be a lousy liar. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to come up with a plausible story when confronted by someone who has noticed that their details don’t quite match up with their past stories. And yet I find myself in their shoes with surprising regularity. I’ll be at the store, shopping for toilet paper and dog food, and I’ll run into another parent. Someone from a playgroup years past, or from the preschool co-op, someone I haven’t seen in some time. The predictable yet enjoyable conversation starts. How are the kids? What are they up to? …What parent doesn’t like to talk about their awesome offspring?? And so I do. Older daughter is interested in theater, excited about getting braces (who knew braces would become a mark of coolness?), growing like a weed. Younger daughter is reading everything she can get her hands on, is obsessed with Minecraft, and wants to dye her hair crazy colors. Then I see The Look. “Wait. Daughters? I thought you had a girl and a boy.” Right. You don’t know. OK. Deep breath. “I thought I did. Turns out we were mistaken. She identifies as a girl and is transgender.” Cue...Read More
The journey of a transgender child isn’t a smooth one, even if that child is lucky enough to have an accepting family and community. There is a lot of anxiety. A LOT. And when you think about it, it makes sense. As a toddler and a young child, your parents are everything. They are the ultimate authority on how the world works. And when they call you a boy, well, they must be right. Right? Add in every other authority figure in your life — siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers, doctors, librarians (hey, they’ve always been a big authority figure in my life!) — saying the same thing, and it can be so disorienting to feel that you are a girl when they’re all saying that you are a boy. We never argued with our daughter about her gender. We never told her she was wrong when she did come to us and say that she was a girl. But it took years for her to get to the point where she could say that to us. Because in those years of doubt and questioning, there were thousands of casual conversations informing her that we believed that she was a boy. “Hi! How are you? Yes, this is my daughter, and this is my son. Aren’t they amazing?” “Good morning, I’d like to sign my son up for...Read More
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