She.

You officially asked us to change your pronouns.

Last Sunday you sat beside me, snuggled in next to me, and broke my heart. You asked me “Mom, do you think I’m a He or a She?” I told you “You are whichever you feel you are.” And you told me “She is girl. I’m a girl. Can you start calling me She now?”

And with that conversation, as much as I felt that I was doing the right thing up until now by letting you lead, I also felt like I had failed you by making you have to ask me that. That is what broke my heart. Knowing that I had been doing something that bothered and likely hurt you. Using male pronouns.

So we started with She. And Monday morning I updated your teachers, and the teacher you will have next year, and the principal. And I asked them to also correct any classmates that they hear using male pronouns when speaking about you.

And now we move forward…

 

Slam-a-phobia

Yesterday evening I attended and read at a local Poetry Slam event against homophobia nd transphobia. It was a very emotional night. Hearing personal accounts of the different experiences people have had was hard. Some of it completely tore my heart apart. But it definitely reinforced that I am following the right pathway in my support of Nate. Here is what I wrote/read…

it’s december.

you’re in junior kindergarten.

you’re 4 years old.

the zipper on your lightning mcqueen backpack breaks.

i take you to walmart to pick out a new one

and we come home with a bright pink hello kitty backpack and matching lunchbag.

it’s march.

you’re in junior kindergarten.

next month you turn five.

i sit in the kiss & ride watching you walk up to the doors of the school

in a bright blue hello kitty t-shirt and jeans.

and i wonder if any parents look at you and think that you are wearing your sister’s hand-me-downs because we are too broke to afford new clothes

not knowing that you actually have a brother just one year older than you.

it’s the first month of summer vacation.

you’re five years old.

you turn to me and everything i thought i knew about you crumbles.

and suddenly with three small words

i’m searching for directions online

where media posts and comment threads

slice like razors thru skin

making blood run like fear.

in an desperate effort i scour this empty library that suddenly feels so out of date.

for a parenting book…

a script…

a field guide…

for something that i’m finding hasn’t even been written.

searching for answers of how to change this world

before it exposes itself to you.

but all i find are loose pages of single letters

that spell out

‘write it yourself’…

so we do.

in dance classes,

and leopard print,

in pink lace dresses…

in your face lit up

dancing across the room like a firework…

and i watch

fighting to hide the fear in my eyes so that it doesn’t reflect in yours.

because you’re fearless.

defending every step you take

as fingers point

and blame gets laid on me.

because i painted your nails when you were two.

because i let you wear your sister’s dress up clothes.

because i bought you that pink stuffed toy…

endless voices telling me that ‘you’re too young to know’.

but i am grateful to have been given the honour to defend you now

so that hopefully

you won’t have to do it when you’re older.

it’s the second day of senior kindergarten.

you’re 5 years old.

you are skipping around the playground in a leopard print dress with a twirly skirt and a bright pink headband.

all smiles.

and i am standing beside you watching for even so much as a sideways glance.

it’s november.

you’re five years old.

and a teacher tells me that after more than 6 months some of the staff think this is still a phase – because your clothing is inconsistent.

because you still wear grey jogging pants from the boys section now and then because you haven’t yet outgrown them.

no mention of the sparkly pink shirt they’re worn with.

it’s december.

you’re five years old.

and an aquaintance who i turn to for guidance tells me to get rid of all the boy clothes even if you haven’t outgrown them yet.

that i need to rid you of your past so people will see you for who you are more clearly.

that i need to make these decisions for you because you are too young to understand their impact on your own.

but these words sound too familiar…

and i feel like i am stuck between a rock and a hard place and they are both pressing tighter and tighter

and it’s getting harder and harder to breathe.

and i lift you above them because you don’t deserve this.

and i say No.

because i have already failed you without meaning to.

the day that you were born

when i called all the family and posted to social media and repeated those very first words that you ever heard –

it’s a boy!

your path is not mine to pave.

i will not lead

but i will stand beside you and hold your hand ever step of the way.

it’s january.

you’re five years old.

and your favorite classmates father repeats your name as he looks at you in your disney princess dress.

and as the look of confusion on his face melts into realization i realize just how much the sound of someone trying not to sound surprised sounds like silence.

it’s the middle of may.

and you’re six years old.

 

 

 

Now where did I put that handbook…

The school year is slowly coming to an end. For Nate it has been a year filled with pink clothing and dresses, Shopkins and My Little Ponies, Disney Princesses and all things cute & “girly”. And yet, at least once a week, I am confronted with an upset child telling me that “the kids at school still don’t believe I’m a girl”…

And it isn’t all of them. And I know this because I spend enough time at the school that I have heard children say that Nate is a girl. But the fact that it still gets questioned…

So I am at the point that I am trying to decide if it’s better to just let things continue as they are or if I should, as some parents whose stories I have read online have done, compose some sort of letter to the parents of Nate’s classmates explaining how Nate identifies, in hopes that it will lead to better acceptance next year. And yet I hesitate out of fear of the opposite outcome.

God dammit… I wish there was a handbook to tell me what to do. And I wish that there was no reason to be concerned about the potential reactions from people around us. I shouldn’t have to fear someone not accepting my five year old child…

The Sound of Someone Trying Not to Sound Surprised

Yesterday school resumed after the Christmas holidays. You went back to school wearing stretchy pants that were light pink and had little cats and dogs all over them and a three quarter sleeve baseball style shirt with a dog wearing a baseball cap riding a skateboard from West 49. I assume that this shirt is one of those “questionable” pieces of clothing you own. Because it is from the “boys” section but you like them because they have “cute dogs” on them.

Today, however, you chose Frozen (Elsa & Anna) stretchy pants, with a frozen dress, and a frozen sweatshirt. I walked you into the school today because I needed to speak to your brothers teacher. As we walked down the hall a little girl in your class got excited to see you and was pointing you out to her father. You waved and we continued on our way into the classroom. They entered the classroom moments after us and the little little girl again told her father, very excitedly, who you were. Her father repeated your name like it was a question as he took in your outfit, your purple coat, and your pink owl boots.

It was kind of impressive really, how quickly the sound if surprise turns to realization, and how similar they sound…

 

The more I think about it…

Christmas went down smoothly. You now have 3 My Little Pony dolls, a set of Frozen dolls, a slew of Littlest Pet Shops, and a bunch of Shopkins. The family gave mostly neutral gifts, and some “boy” clothes. No questions were raised and you didn’t say anything. To Grandma’s you wore jeans and a long sleeved pink shirt with a sequin covered cat on it. To Nan’s you wore jeans and a “boy” shirt with a polar bear wearing a scarf that I bought because you have a thing for polar bears lately and it was the only polar bear shirt I came across. You also wore a strawberry shortcake necklace with it, and told me that the shirt is a girl shirt not a boys.

I admit, I initially had mixed feelings over the outfit you chose for Nan’s. My first thought was “how is anyone suppose to take this seriously when you are dressed like that?” And then I got frustrated with myself for thinking that, and for others for making me feel pressured into feeling like it should even be an issue.

I reached out for support recently after finding out about the teachers at the school commenting about your clothing being “inconsistent”. And in response I ended up hearing that I should be supporting you by making sure that there is no room for others to doubt you. And to be blunt – it pissed me off. I don’t want to feel like I am leading you or pressuring you. I shouldn’t have to take everything “boy” away from you just to make others have less doubt. Wear what you want. Would I have bought that same polar bear shirt for your sister if it were her with the interest in polar bears and I thought she would like it? Damn straight I would!

The amount of times I told you last year (before you started stating that you are a girl) that the shirt you were wearing wasn’t a “girls” shirt because if you liked it then it was for Nate (or everyone) not for “girls”, why shouldn’t I be doing the exact same thing now with a “boys” shirt?! Is a girl that is a stereotypical “tomboy” any less a girl because of the clothes she wears? If I am fighting for you to be treated fairly and equally, should it not be regardless of your clothes that day?! Exactly.

So, other than my own internal struggle with recent advice, the holidays have been great. We had lots of time to relax, great meals with loving family, and lots of laughter and smiles. We are loved. Unconditionally. And at this moment – I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

 

 

Sitting on a Fence (& Coming Out for Christmas)

You know those times when you are glad you know something, and at the same time… not?

That is how I feel this week.

I have spent the last 3 days in a row at the school for one reason or another, between field trips and holiday workshops.

I found out, though no harm was meant in telling me, that which washroom you will be allowed to use next year has been a topic of discussion in the staff room amongst the teachers. Which I understand completely, though I do feel like I should be involved in the conversation about that. But the bit that  I am unsure of whether or not I am glad to know is that a number of the teachers are unsure of which washroom because they still feel that this may be a phase. The reason? Because your choice of clothing is inconsistent.

And so now I sit back and wonder if the fact that most days I still have you wearing pants from the boys section that you haven’t outgrown, and the fact that I’m buying you the more colorful pants from the boys section instead of just buying pants from the girls section simply because the bottoms of the pants in the girls section are too narrow and tight on your calves, is causing teachers to not believe you. I wonder if it is a reflection to them of whether or not I believe or support you… which is a thought that stings.

I wonder how long this has to go on for before they decide that is not a phase. And I wonder if they look at any of the little girls that were born in a little girls body that chooses to wear track pants and regular cut t-shirts or sports shirts and think “oh, she is dressing in boys clothes”… or if it is just because it is you.

So that is what’s on my mind this week, combined with the upcoming holidays and the fact that I haven’t had a conversation with your grandmother or with my parents about what is going on.

I’ve had two people this week ask me why I haven’t. And it’s hard to answer. It’s many things. Deep down wishing that maybe it is just a really long phase, for no other reason but the fact that, if this isn’t what it appears, your life could be so much easier. Knowing that every person we tell is going to meet us with the same response that we originally had – that we will be told that it is just a phase. That we will be told not to indulge it. That we will be judged and talked about. That this will be compared to the fact that for nearly a year when you were three/four you insisted you had family members that didn’t actually exist. And lately, wondering if it’s even my place to say something. Feeling like I am outing you.

I read online about parents of older children that are transitioning, and about their children wanting to do it in stages and only letting certain people know at a time. I read about parents that are only explaining the situation to people that come right out and ask and are in a position that they would need to know. And I think that, though it may be harder on their children – being older, that it may be easier on the parents to have a child that can actually direct them as to what they want done. Right now I can ask you questions and you can answer them, but I constantly worry that I am saying something that is leading you or directing you. And you aren’t old enough to make an educated, informed decision on anything.

So I have been waiting things out. Waiting for someone in the family to finally ask. Waiting for a sign that they ready to hear it. Because we haven’t hidden it. It is all so out in plain site that there is no way for them not to see.

And it feels like it’s getting closer.

 

 

 

There are Others!

There are TWO! Two other pre-pubescent children within the local school district that are in elementary school and aren’t fully living as their assigned gender!

I feel like I am in one of those books or movies where the characters with unusual powers or abilities finds out that there are others that do as well, or in one of those shows where half the planet is wiped out and a small colony of people realizes that there are others still out there… that they aren’t actually alone.

A few weeks back a friend told me that she knows of a child at a school 30 minutes from here that is identifying as transgender. This morning I heard “thru the grapevine” that there is another child, about 30 minutes in the other direction, that presents as gender-fluid. And I can do nothing to reach them.

Is it sad, this urge I have to contact the school board and ask them to give my email to every local family that comes forward to their child’s school about them questioning their gender? The urge to call every school in the area and ask them to please give out my info? Essentially outing my child with every call I make? That feels so desperate. But oh… to not feel so god damn alone…