Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pigtails

Last night as I was hugging Kegan good night, I started playing with her hair and realized her hair is at that almost long enough to put into a super short ponytail or pigtails. I said, "You know what? I think your hair is almost long enough," and before I could finish she said, "To put it into a ponytail?!?!"

I don't know why her enthusiasm surprised me, I mean this girl is so all about looking like a girl. I don't think we have talked much about her "hair plans" beyond my hopes to finally master a good French braid for her.  I don't think I realized that she may be thinking about long hair and how to fix it.

This morning we pulled together two super cute pigtails. They are the ones that basically stick straight out with mismatched lengths of hair giving them that chunky, choppy look that I think looks as cute on a six year old as a hipster 16 year old. (Not so much on a 40 year old Mama though!) She still needs barrettes for the front and sides and it is messy, but she loves it. I will have to see how I can finesse it into acceptable for out and about...but it does look so cute. And she rocks it.

Just another otherwise simple milestone that seems so huge.

I am off to find some bobby pins. (Kidding. Not kidding.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lovely Blog Award

Michelle over at Because I'm Fabulous was one of the first people to reach out to me when I started writing about Kegan. Even though we live in different countries, have a great age divide between our kids, and have never met she sends me virtual hugs and kindness frequently. And I really appreciate it.

Michelle is an awesome mom to her gender nonconforming child, Jeremy. Zie is one lucky 17 year old kid to have such an awesome mom! She says zie is fabulous, which I am sure zie is, but Michelle seems pretty fabulous herself.

So anyway, she nominated me for:

Which is very thoughtful! And now I need to share seven unknown facts about myself on this blog. Which might get tricky given that this is like a top secret, eyes only kind of blog. (Insert "heh-heh-heh" here.)

1. My best friend and I send hundreds of texts to each other every week, but have only talked on the phone three or four times in nine years of knowing each other. Yet she is the person I am closest too of everyone I know in real life besides my husband and kids. She knows all my secrets and has held my hand many times without ever touching my skin.

2. I feel obligated to explain that my husband is my first best friend and my best friend above is my best girlfriend or something along those lines. Because apparently I am in third grade,

3. I talk a good game to my kids about choosing kindness, choosing love, being the good in the world, being a helper, blah, blah, blah...but at the end of the day give me a book or movie about Vampires and I will pick the vamps over the humans every single time.

(I just re-read the rules and evidently I just need to share seven facts about myself...they don't have to be secret..although I don't think that helps with this list creation very much!)

4.  I am very loyal, like a dog.

5. Dishonesty is my deal breaker.  I would much rather hear the difficult truth than be lied to. Every day of the week.

6.  I am so thankful for kids like Jazz and thankful for parents like Debi Jackson, they make our world more aware and hopefully more accepting of trans* people. But as much as I would like to stand next to them at the podium and share how awesome Kegan is, I don't foresee that happening until Kegan is much older and only if she initiates it. If she wants to be stealth her entire life, then I am on board with that and because that may be her choice, I will be stealth until asked otherwise. This is her story, I am just a supporting player and while my role is greatly impacted by her, I am well aware that she is the lead in this tale.

7. My goal every day is to be kind. To everyone: my kids, my husband, the grumpy tollbooth collector, the friendly receptionist, the stressed out little league coach....and everyday I fail. Not completely, but I still need much more practice to perfect this art.

Now I am supposed to nominate fifteen blogs...but I do not read fifteen blogs! I actually only read one or two blogs and not even everyday. Instead I will just thank Michelle again and thank Kat Carpita at Dandelion Fuzz for sharing her story because her son is FTM and sometimes we have a lot in common.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Officially Our "Normal"

Today I learned that I have officially moved into the "normal" of having a daughter. Kegan had a doctor appointment with a specialist we check in with every year or so. While we were waiting to meet with the doctor, her fellow came in. I have not met this fellow before, but I knew she had read the chart because they are super thorough. I had not made an announcement about Kegan's transition but they knew to call her by the correct name (and did) based on the "alias" created by the universal e-record system several of the local providers share. (And maybe my polite reminder to the friendly, non-fazed receptionist.)

So the fellow came in and greeted Kegan by her correct name, we all exchanged the "Hello's" and "How are you's?" common in our world. The fellow then sat down and asked, "So, how are things? Any changes? What's new?"

I literally looked at her, paused, thought, and then replied, "Ummm, no, nothing really, no changes."

She looked at me a little perplexedly with a slight tile of her head, to which I looked back at her, and then after a few seconds, said, "Ooooooh! [insert awkward, "I am a clueless mom" chuckle] Yes, Kegan has transitioned."

Is it totally awesome that I completely forgot that this is kind of huge news? I am thinking that yes, it is totally awesome. I knew we had completed the "transition phase," but this just takes things to a whole new and better level.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Waiting

I don't know how many more times we will have to do this...but I am seriously hoping it is not many. I just sent another email to a friend about Kegan being a girl. All the main players know, i.e., relatives, close friends, neighbors,  people who we see at least once a year. The people who needed to be told because we see them or talk to them frequently or at least frequently-ish know and have known. 

There are a handful of people who we keep in touch with sporadically who do not know. Some of them I may or may not tell...I guess it will depend on whether or not we "catch up" again at some point. Then there are the people who I count as friends, but don't manage to keep in close contact with. The people who if push came to shove I could call and get help with some crisis or who could call us and get help with their crises. So we are friends, but distantly, but in a pinch the distance would shortened dramatically if needed. Some of those people don't know. 

It feels weird to not know what the expected reaction is from them. I mean, if we are friends you would think I would have a good understanding of their outlook on many big issues. However, it seems for some of them I don't. Anyway, I just sent an email to a friend who I text with a few times a month, who I love and know she loves me, who has been there during other challenges in my life, and who I have helped her in difficult times. But we don't connect that often...partially because of physical distance, partially due to the crazy schedules of moms, and partially due to laziness, I guess. 

Anyway, I sent the email....and within ten minutes of hitting send I have refreshed my email two times, double checked that it sent, and checked for a text message from her. As well as sent her a text to tell her I sent an email (because apparently I am an old lady!). Clearly, she could not have even read the lengthy email in ten minutes, assuming she even happened to see a new email popped up! And yet...I will be neurotically checking and refreshing until I hear from her. Because that is how it goes...the waiting is long. It is just long. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Thank You Mills College

Dear Mills College,

Thank you from the depths of my soul. My amazing, bright, talented, creative, sometimes moody, always clever, sometimes very kind, smart daughter is male to female transgender. Your school would be fortunate to have her as a member of the Mills College Class of 2030 and you have already paved the way for her. Thank you for opening your doors to this often marginalized population, a population that is equally deserving of a college education as cisgender women.

It may seem odd that one of the issues I have worried about was the chance that my daughter would not have the opportunity to attend an all-female college, especially since she is only six years old. Clearly, I have no idea if she will desire to attend a same-gender college or not, but the fact that it was not an option on the table has saddened me much more than anyone knows.

As the mom of a trans* kid, I have plenty to worry about. It seemed like worrying about her desire to or her ability to attend an all-girls college should be pretty low on my priority list. (I don't actually prioritize my worry list, but I do have a mental worry list. It is sort of like a "to-do" list, only useless.) I kept it low, in the back of my mind, I never even mentioned it to anyone until today.

But I did worry about it. I hated that she may not be able to participate in an education geared towards all-girls. I had the honor of an all-girls high school education and while initially I didn't love it and while I don't have lifelong friends from the experience, I am so grateful for that education. There is something incredible about sitting in a classroom without any boys to distract you, without feeling like you need to prove you are as good as the boys in science or math, without feeling like the boys may not like me if I was too smart or not smart enough. It was freeing to go to school without the weight of having to glam up for the day. And aside from all that, it was just something special.

My heart has been heavy about the possible lack of a single gender education for my daughter since she came out. I kept it a secret because there are certainly bigger issues on our agenda right now....raising her to be strong in her true self, sorting through which family members are worth fighting for after they rejected us, keeping therapy appointments to make sure we don't mess up this very special parenting situation. Where she would attend college in twelve(!) years and who would be in her classes seemed like they needed to low on my radar. But they secretly weren't. But now, thanks to you, Mills College, it can just move right off my radar.

I already ordered two t-shirts and a pair of yoga pants from your bookstore and can't wait to proudly sport and support your excellent institution. Thank you and Go Cyclones!

Sincerely,
Kay

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Memo to the Doubters:

1. Yes, it is completely plausible and possible that my child understands her gender identity better than you. Trust us when we tell you this is who she is. Trust us when we tell you she has persistently and consistently insisted she is a girl. Trust us, when we tell you there is evidence based research demonstrating that kids as young as two to five years old can know their true gender identity. Trust us that we would not lightly have our child buck all social norms and put herself at risk for bullying and worse just to be "cool" parents.

2. If you know transgender adults, why is it hard for you to understand my kid is transgender? Did you ever actually speak with these trans* adults? Because I am guessing many of them knew from the time they were Kegan's age or younger that their outsides didn't match their insides.

3. When you say nothing to us, when you offer no support, for months, we assume you don't accept Kegan. We assume you are so uncomfortable with her or us that you are choosing to ignore the situation and therefore no longer desire to be in our lives. Saying nothing, says a lot. When you say, "I didn't know what to say," I consider that a cop-out. You say, "Thank you for telling us. We love Kegan for who she is not what her genitals are, not for the clothes she wears. We love her." It is that easy and that simple.

4.  When you say you need time to accept this because you are Catholic or Conservative or have never known a trans* person, know we will give you time, but I can't hold your hand while you work through your issues. And speaking of your issues, how is my child's gender your issue anyway? How does what my daughter wears or what length of hair she has or what name she goes by affect you? I have never realized until recently how skilled people can be at taking something completely not about themselves and making it about themselves.

5.  When you say you will still be our friends, but you can't call Kegan by her correct name, you are not our friends.

6. Yes, I am angry tonight. Tomorrow I will think of  bright, cheery, sunny sentences to write, but tonight, I just needed to say all that!

August 4, 1944

Kegan is only five, but is very precocious. Today she asked me to read her the Diary of Anne Frank. While it is one of my favorite books, I don't think it is appropriate for a not quite six year old. She knows the premise, "During World War 2 there were a group of really bad people who felt like some people, like Jewish people, should not be allowed to live. So these Nazi's would send the Jewish people to concentration camps and sometimes kill them. Anne Frank and her family were so lucky that some very kind and brave people hid them for two years, bringing them food, and clothes, and protecting them from the Nazi's. Until someone found out and Anne and her family were arrested." 

She doesn't know much more than that and I still find myself questioning how appropriate it was to have told her that much. But she reads and saw something about World War 2 somewhere and I had to give her an intro a few months ago. Then she heard us talking about the Anne Frank house...and so her education is constantly growing while her innocence is being drained.

While I was telling her that I didn't read the Diary of Anne Frank until I was 12 and I felt she was a little too young for it still, she asked me, "Why did the Nazi's not like the Jews?" And as I have wondered myself for years, I found I could not adequately answer her question. How does a person or worse an entire group of people decide to systematically hate an entire demographic?

And then I thought, "Well it wasn't just the Jews the Nazi's were against." Luckily that stayed in my head because immediately my next thought was, "Kegan, you would have been a marked person, The Nazi's did not want transgender people to live either."  Even with her blonde hair and fair skin, she would have been a blight on their society. Not a blight like she might be in today's society in America, but so much so my daughter could be sent to a Concentration Camp, could be sent to the gas chamber, or just shot as she stepped off a train looking around at all the other unwanteds trying to find their bearings.

My daughter could have been an Anne Frank. Not because she is Jewish, but simply because the Nazis hated people like my child. 

And then my heart broke, again. Like it always does as I think of the cruelty my child will face even though it is not 1944 anymore. 




Saturday, July 26, 2014

Words Have Meaning

Words have meaning. I have always said that. Never has that been more true than as I contemplate the way we use words with the issue of transgenderism. (Speaking of words, is that even a word?)

We have given Kegan very little education on being transgender in our society. I am a big proponent of being honest, of being forthcoming, and being an educator. Kegan knows she is different than many girls. But she doesn't know it is, kind of a big deal. And we will keep her sheltered from that for as long as we can. (Fully recognizing the time limit on that is soon expiring.)

Kegan will sometimes say, "When I was a boy..." I gently comment, "When we thought you were a boy? You've always been a girl, we just thought you were a boy."  It is important to be clear she didn't become a girl, she is and always has been a girl. We were wrong, we made a grave error, we gave her the wrong label. She was a girl from day one, not she became a girl.

The author of Gender Born, Gender Made talks about the term "transgender" being inappropriate. The prefix "trans" means to change thoroughly. But people who are transgender are not changing anything. They are making a correction in the label name they were originally given. If I consider this for long it makes me sad. It makes me sad because words have meaning and we already mislabeled Kegan once, as a boy. When we label her transgender now we are making the same mistake again. She didn't change, she is still Kegan. She just let the world know, we the world, got it wrong. Sadly, I don't expect a more accurate label to come along, so for now we just are going with "transgender."

Recently a girl in Canada had her birth certificate updated to reflect her true gender self. I saw a tweet that announced, "11 -Year Old Canadian girl gets birth certificate changed." Someone replied (or whatever you do on twitter), "She didn't change her birth certificate, she corrected it." I thought, "Wow!"  Two words, both start with the letter "c," but it changes the meaning so drastically!

As a mom of a trans* kid I constantly find my addled brain on alert to choose my words very carefully and very wisely because I know those who don't accept the idea of a gender spectrum or the idea of people identifying as their true gender selves as reasonable human variations, will look for my errors. They will pounce on my misspoken words. But equally important, as I educate those who are accepting, as I speak as an ally, I need to ensure my words are accurate.






Friday, July 25, 2014

"I am a Girl, Not I am a Girl, but...

We had our playdate today. It went without a hitch. Kegan totally passes, so that is truly never a concern. Watching her with two other little girls was peaceful. Not in a zen-yoga-lady kind of way, just it was good to see her in her element. The date was outdoors and casual, but organized enough to keep things moving along. It was good.

As we were driving home, it occurred to me, if I truly accept and truly believe in my heart and mind that she is a girl, that her birth certificate is errored, that we have simply misidentified her all these years, then no one needs to be told. It is not as if I would ever identify to anyone what Sean has going on between his legs. The thought would never be necessary, it would never cross my mind. I realized, this is in fact, much simpler than I have been making it, "She is a girl. Not she is a girl, but..."

I spoke with our therapist last night and she told me that telling after the second date is likely premature. She suggested it is not necessary to tell ever or maybe after 10-15 play dates it would make sense. Unless there is a sleepover or a swimming play date, there is no reason to share that information yet. And even when it is a sleepover or swimming date the information is shared as a safety precaution for Kegan, not to quantify her right to the label "girl."  (More on safety later.)

She explained that sometimes when you are in the "Telling Phase," the brain gets locked into telling people and it becomes difficult to discriminate between who to tell and who not to tell. That resonated with me because we have been having to tell everyone. This is the first family that only knows Kegan as Kegan, not as "Kegan, formerly known as a boy."

Our therapist said that sometimes when people find out, even if they are accepting, they still treat the child differently. Kegan deserves to have a childhood as a girl without these layers of transgender issues. Kegan is a girl, not she is a girl, but. We need to let her just be that girl. People see her as a girl, she knows herself to be a girl, she should get the same childhood that any girl gets. Her femininity or girlness should not be constantly evaluated or labelled or characterized with ifs and buts.

We are not keeping her identity as transgender a secret, but it is private. That was a hard sentence for me to understand because sometimes when we are stealth, I feel like by not telling, we are making it something to be ashamed of. But a secret is something you carry by yourself, private is something some people know about, but not the whole world. There is a distinct difference and private is appropriate for many things. Private is not shameful, it is just private and personal.

As far as safety, we have to balance her right to privacy with her absolute, non-negotiable need for safety. If she is at a sleepover and her penis is observed it could lead to an unsafe situation. The therapist said we don't need to scare her and suggested using the words, "It can confuse people. Most boys have penises and most girls have vaginas, some girls though, like you, have a penis. But since most girls don't have penises, it can confuse people when they first find out a girl has a penis. It is something unexpected and so it can be confusing." That makes sense to me. It makes being transgender a slice on the spectrum of gender. Certainly if people might be confused we want to be preemptive before they discover inadvertently. Certainly being confused is acceptable for many areas of life. Certainly being confused is not the same as unaccepting.

Our awesome therapist assured me, we are not tricking people, we are not lying. We are just letting our daughter be the girl she is freely. We are letting Kegan free to be the girl she is. She doesn't need a clause defining her girlness, she is a girl as much as I am.

I knew that before, but now I truly "get it." She was equal to her peers today in their claim to being a girl. She is a girl, not she is a girl but!


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Best of Times (so far)

I am so thankful that Kegan is being raised right now, in this time, in this world. Not the world where rape is an epidemic on college campuses. Not the world where airplanes are shot out of the sky with missiles. Not the world where Gaza is being blown to pieces. Not the world where 4 people died in Chicago this weekend alone, by gunshot wounds. Not the world where citizens on our border hurl hateful insults at children trying to escape a life of unbearable hardship. Not the world where we fly drones and shoot people with very little consequence.

No, not the world. But this world:

The world where being transgender does not mean an automatic ex-communication from your Church, your family, your friends. The world where more and more parents are supporting their children who are trans*. The world where kids like Jazz and Ryland exist so boldly, leading the way for kids like Kegan. The world where the President of the United States stands up for the LGTBQ population.  The world where people may call it a lifestyle choice (which I abhor!), but still offer my daughter hand me down dresses.  The world where tolerance is becoming more common, where acceptance is becoming the goal. The world where it is as good as it has ever been, but not as good as it will be for the transgender community.

The world where moms like Debi Jackson educate hundreds of thousands (and soon millions, thanks to the power of videos going viral!) on what it means to be transgender and what it does not mean in six minutes or less. I just stood at my kitchen counter, with my hand covering my mouth to silence my deep crying as I watched this amazing woman tell my story, tell Kegan's story.


Sometimes I see or read something about trans* kids and it is so open, so raw, and such pure truth. Debi Jackson is a hero for all moms and all kids. I wish she was my BFF or at least the mom next door!



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Names of Roses

I just submitted some claims to our FSA account and it is so strange to see Kegan's old name on the paperwork and is even stranger to click the box next to that name. I realize it is just a name, but at the same time it is not "just a name." It is her old name, her name when we thought she was a boy, her past.

We still have photos of her when she looked like a boy on display in the house. So far we have not discussed removing them, she hasn't asked and we haven't offered. She seems very confident in her life...this is who I was and this is who I am now. Maybe because she transitioned so young she won't ever ask us to take the photos down.

Somehow the photos don't seem wrong, like her name on the insurance bills do. Maybe because we all look different in old photos...certainly not as different as Kegan does or will. But hairstyles change color, length, height(!!); clothes change drastically between decades...sometimes it is hard to recognize who we were or who we thought we were.  If she does ask us to remove them or place them out of sight of visitors, we will honor her request without delay.

I was literally about to type, "But I honestly don't expect her to make that request," when I flashed to her teen years and friends coming over to visit and suddenly I thought, "Yeah, she is probably going to ask." Then I flashed to an upcoming playdate with a new friend who did not know Kegan prior to her transition. Will Kegan want this child to continue to not know, at least until when/if they become good pals? (This brings up a whole new set of concerns: who deserves to know? Who needs to know?) This playdate just went from a fun new opportunity to a huge risk somehow. The playdate is not even at our home....I am just projecting ahead to if this neutral location goes well.

Maybe our photos will be coming down. It makes me sad if they do, not because I need to have photos to remember her past, but because the thought of her feeling the need to hide or forget her past shatters my heart.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bob (The Hairstyle, Not the Guy)

Kegan has now had her second "shaping" haircut since deciding to grow her hair long "like a girl". We are surprisingly close to a real bob already. Our hairstylist thinks she will be able to cut it all to the same length for a "just below her earlobe" bob by the end of the year. This is not earth shattering, but it is pretty happy news.

The problem with me having a girl is I am by no means a girly girl and I really am clueless when it comes to styling hair, applying make up properly, and tweezing eyebrows. Fortunately the make up and eyebrow issues have several years before they matter. Her hair is thick and lovely, but it is also sort of awkward....her bangs are too long to wear down, but not quite long enough that they stay in a barrette well. We are currently using headbands most days, which to my surprise look super cute. I still have to deal with hair poking upright, random pieces falling forward, and stray strands bopping about...but we are getting there,

Everyday when I fix her hair she goes to look in the mirror when I announce, "Okay, you are done." (Have I mentioned if I spend more than two minutes she gets antsy? Oh my poor dear...how ignorant of your teenage future years you are!) Everyday she says, with a smile in her voice, "Thank you. I like it!" And she is genuinely happy. Even on the days when it is only so-so or just okay, she loves it. And she loves that I "fix" it for her. Whether I just wet it down and put a barrette in, use the flat iron to straighten or curl it, spend five tries getting the headband to gather and hold all her hair...she acts as if I have accomplished a feat of beauty.

But the best part is, she doesn't really get "being beautiful," she has not been informed that her role as a female is to look spot on perfect everyday and I absolutely love that and revel in it. She is just happy that she has a barrette and a "girl" hairstyle. And her idea of what makes a girl a girl is still simple and innocent. I have no plans to inform her otherwise.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Hard Stuff

I recently wrote a post in response to the not infrequent comments my husband and I get about how incredibly difficult this journey must be for our family. The only thing that makes it truly hard, right now, is the lack of acceptance or the ignoring by family or friends. A transsexual woman commented on that post that I must really know it is actually quite hard for Kegan (or will be as she ages). I wanted to address that.

Certainly, I know it is so hard to be transgender. I am totally aware of how difficult it is to be a girl with a penis (as much as I can be aware, as a girl with a vulva). The other day I was explaining to Sean about why, as a girl, I don't have a penis and had to stop because, well, not all girls have vulvas...some of them, like my daughter have a penis. I get it. It is actually really hard.

I know that my daughter is part of a community who has an astronomical suicide attempt rate. 41% versus less than 2% for the general population. That thought crosses my mind daily. Daily. I am constantly aware that my daughter has a close to 50% chance of attempting suicide simply because of who she is.

Unemployment is higher among trans* individuals. My daughter could be fired from a job (if she was old enough to have one that is!) in many states just because she is transgender. Getting a driver's license photo taken is not just about trying to smile in time for the DMV customer service rep but convincing him or her to allow you to look like you look on a daily basis. It is not easy to be transgender.

Do I worry about who will love my child? My only hope is for my kids to be happy and safe in life. Who will love this flawed human being who by the way also has a penis but is actually a girl? Will she be a lesbian? Will that make physical love easier? I have no idea, I am utterly ignorant on how to help her figure all this out. Will she be straight? Will there be a man who is comfortable with non-traditional sex to love her enough as she is? Does it make me sad (and stunned) that at not even six years old I am worrying about my child's future sex life? It does. Worrying about her marriage prospects. Worrying about people accepting her not only today, but next week, next month, next year, when she is 14, 16, 18, 22, 33, 46, 57, 63.

When my daughter is 89 and living in a skilled nursing facility will the world be kind to her? Will the caregivers be polite to her and call her Miss Kegan while giving her a bath and seeing her penis? Will they be mean behind her back? Will some of them refuse to care for her because she does not meet their norms? Will some of them not answer her call button when she needs help because of who she is? My daughter is six and I literally worry about her end of life days when she is an old lady. How messed up is that? Thanks society!

Have we lost family and friends who can't accept her? Yep. Do I dread the day she figures out that it hasn't just "been awhile since we saw certain people"?  Yes. Do I fear the day she discovers she is not as "normal" as we have led her to believe? Do I wonder nightly if we should be telling her more truth today so it won't hurt so much tomorrow? Or is it right to keep her innocent, to build her strength and boldness now while our opinion is the only one that matters to her? Do I cry over my fear of not having the right words to help her when someone rejects her? I do. I do.

I question every decision we make. Most parents do that. I question ours purely because I want to do the right thing (like all parents), but also because if I screw this up my baby might try to kill herself. Do I wonder at what point I have to tell friends who don't know...what about sleep overs? Do those moms have a right to know that my daughter has a penis if their daughter is sleeping next to her at age ten during a slumber party? I don't know. I want it to not matter. But in our world, it sure seems to matter a lot.

I feel so sad that my daughter won't be able to carry a child under her heart if she desires that. Do I question if we should freeze her sperm  if she decides to go on hormone blockers before puberty? I do...how crazy is that? She is five! Five and I am wondering...is it possible for a ten year old to masturbate to produce sperm for freezing so she might be able to have her own biological children one day? It is completely crazy.

So I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is hard. And as hard as it is for me, it will be ten million times harder for Kegan. But...the actual part of having a trans* kid...that is not hard. All of the above, with the exception of fertility, is directly responding to society. To the lack of acceptance by society. If society would just accept a non binary gender spectrum, if society would just be willing to evaluate the real problems in life (I made a small sample list on my post) then none of this would be hard. It would be a journey like any other life journey. Filled with joy, misery, love, heartache, sorrow, happiness, peace, anxiety. It would just be the "simple" life everyone has. Society makes it hard. People not accepting others makes it hard. The trans* part itself is not the hard.

I suppose ask me in 10 year when she is 16. Maybe I am speaking too early. But for right now, this is where I am. And all the hard comes from one place...the world. Never from my daughter's true self.

Disclaimer:
I think I might sound angry at my commenter and I am not. I am angry though. Angry that this conversation even needs to be had. I am so angry that my daughter will have a harder life than she needs to. I am angry that all these worries and fears come from people being unaccepting. I am thankful the commenter pointed out it is really hard for her and it will be really hard for my daughter, But I already knew that (sadly). I just wish the origin of what makes it hard could be solved. To do that we need to fix society to accept all human beings where they are right now.

Dear DMV,

I have read of three people in the past week having problems at the DMV. No, not the long lines, grumpy employee, wrong forms kind of problems that everyone complains about, but discrimination problems.

In West Virginia two women were informed that because their license lists them as male they could not wear makeup for their photo. By wearing make up (and in one case apparently, false eyelashes) they were "attempting to conceal or alter their appearance."  In South Carolina a teenager who identifies as male but wears "female" clothing (why must we label clothes?) and make up every single day was told to remove his make up for the same reason these women were told to remove theirs.

Here is the thing, DMV, that IS their appearance. By forcing these women and this boy to NOT wear make up, to not wear their false eyelashes, you are inherently forcing them to alter or conceal their appearance. If they are pulled over or attempt to use their driver's license for proof of identity, they will not match the picture because of how you want them to look in front of your camera.

If someone comes into your office and tells you that she is a transgender woman, try to take that at face value. If someone tells you he is gender non-conforming, trust him. People are not transgender or gender non-conforming for the fun of it or for a social experiment. People do not live their life in a manner which is shunned by much of society just to get a different look for their driver's license photo.

Get it together DMV. Because in 10 years my daughter will be waiting in line and I can only hope you will have figured out how to accept a person who who they are and for who they live their life as by then. In fact, figure it out by next week...these human beings waiting now should not have to deal with this today.

Sincerely,
Kay
-Proud Mom of my MTF transgender daughter
-Ally to the LGBTQ Community

Monday, June 30, 2014

Pride

Do you remember the pep rally chant in high school? "We've got spirit, yes we do, we've got spirit, how 'bout you?"  I feel like we have a lot of Pride spirit, but I am not sure how to show it. I want to be like those parents who post videos online of their trans* kid showing the world how similar a trans* kid can be to a cis kid. I want to tell everyone I meet (okay, not everyone!) that my daughter is trans* and show them how she is totally normal. I want to break down barriers, open doors, and build a safer world for her and this community.

But...she is little, not quite six. She has no idea that there are people who not only will think she is weird, but will reject her simply because she was born in the wrong body. The other day she asked me why I was giving a book about a trans* kid to a friend. I told her because some people have never heard that some people are born in the wrong body. She was incredulous and asked, "Really?!?!" She has been taught that having a trans* daughter, sister, friend is totally normal. That being trans* is no less normal than someone wearing glasses because their eyes were born not quite developed all the way. 

I am so thankful her confidence is not shattered or shuttered by her transgenderism. I am so happy she gets to continue living her life exactly as before only with a new name in new clothes. I am beyond thankful for her innocence. I dread the day she discovers we have been keeping such a dark secret from her that some people think being trans* is wrong, against God, against humanity. This is a life lesson I am hopeful she doesn't experience for many years, when she has identified as trans* for so long and has had so many, many positive experiences that nothing will faze her for long. 

I want to take her to a Pride Parade. I want to introduce her to other kids like her. I want her to know she isn't alone. We have talked about meeting other kids like her and she has vacillated between loving the idea and being fine to not add new friends to her dance card right now. 

My hesitation with taking her to Pride is I feel like if we make being trans* a big deal then she will start to recognize it, well, it kind of is a big deal in our world. I love that she thinks life has not changed for her or us. I love that she went from being a boy to a boy and a girl to a girl so seamlessly, so smoothly, and so free of angst or sorrow. I do not want to introduce any negativity to her about who she is.

Yet, when we don't go to Pride Parades or when I don't post something fabulous about her in a "Parents of Transgender Kids" group on Facebook, I feel like I am only half an ally. But I don't want to out her anymore than I do already....family, friends, dentist office, doctor office, my work, my husband's work, anyone who asks me, "How are the boys?"...I feel like I out her all the time. And what if she doesn't want to be outed? There are so many people in our lives, either immediately or on the periphery enough that I need to share her gender with, it seems like I do it all the time. And I want it to be her who outs herself. But she doesn't even realize there is anything to out...which is amazing and awesome.

I guess I will continue to educate people, buy books for people, write heartfelt letters about my daughter's transition, and entertain any and all questions because right now that is how I get to be an ally and still protect Kegan. 

I want her to own a rainbow flag...but I don't want her to know it is special because of who she is. Not yet, not yet. Is that wrong? 


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Not SO Hard

Having a transgender child is not easy, but more importantly it is not “incredibly difficult,” “SO hard”, “very challenging,” or “unimaginable.” I am tired of people attempting to sympathize with me by telling me, “I can’t even imagine how very difficult this must be for you.” I am declaring right now, right here, this is not hard. I don’t mean to imply it is easy, because there are days it is not easy and I imagine in future days it will be not easy. (Oh, yes? Is that you puberty? We were expecting your call.)


Here is what can be classified as SO hard:
-your husband dying suddenly when your youngest child is 12 months old
-being diagnosed with terminal cancer at 8 months pregnant
-being told your infant is facing a life or death crisis
-taking care of your paralyzed father while raising a child
-spending night after night in the hospital caring for a loved one: young or old
-losing your job without having a big savings account
-being told it is time to consider hospice care for your child who was healthy until two days ago


Those are some example of what is really hard in life. I have either personally faced those things or have had friends or family deal with those situations.


Having a child tell you, “I am a girl,” when for the first five years of that child’s life you thought she was a boy is certainly not easy, but let’s be realistic it is not hard.


Along the same lines, having a transgender child is not a big problem. It is not a crisis of epic proportions. Yes, there are times it feels like an acute crisis, the transition period can be dicey at best, but life gets back to normal. Life goes on more or less as before. You still have a child, you still have a child who loves x, y, and z and still won’t eat Brussel sprouts. (Ha, ha, my kid actually will eat Brussels sprouts. Aren’t I lucky?)


Here are some things that are actual problems:
-the United States is currently flying armed drones over Iraq. That is a problem.
-a 17 year old girl and her 30 year old husband were beheaded last week by their families because they married for love versus by family dictate. That is a problem.
-40 children die every year because they are left in their carseats on hot days. That is a problem.
-Students and teachers are not safe in their classrooms and school hallways because we have not infrequent school shootings. That is a problem.
-There are children in this world who will starve to death this week. That is a problem.
-There are children in all of our neighborhood’s or at least our cities who will go to bed hungry tonight because their last meal was at school at lunchtime. That is a problem.


Those are problems. My daughter having a penis is an anatomical difference. it is not a problem. Trust me, I am living this life. In the grand scheme of actual real problems, a penis on a girl is pretty low level on the ranking of problems.


The only thing that makes having a transgender child hard or a problem is that society tells us it is hard and it is a problem. The only thing that makes it hard is when a “friend” tells you she will still love your child while referring to her by the pronouns “he” and “him” and her former (male) name. (See, again, that is society!) The only thing that makes it a problem is when your family is uninvited to an event because it is “too embarrassing” to explain who your child is. (Embarrassing to explain to who? Yep, you guessed it: society!) The only thing that makes it hard is when people can’t accept that not everyone is cut from the same fabric as themselves.

I have always been amazed by our ability to make problems out of nothing, to make a small difference or a mild atypical situation into a FEMA grade disaster. If parents, and society in general, would accept one simple fact: All people should be able to be who they are and each individual should be allowed to determine who he/she is,” then we could actually deal with the real problems in the world and my amazing trans* kid would not be at risk for rejection or suicide or made to feel there is something wrong with her. And people could stop telling me how hard our life must be.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Her Light Glows Brighter

There is a lovely, lovely woman who I have known for about five months. Her daughter and Kegan are in a class together. Kegan has been wearing girl clothes to this class for about a month. The only comments she has received have been oohs and aahs over the cute styles. One of the little girls in the class tells her mom every other week, "I want a shirt like Kegan's" or "Did you see Kegan's shoes, I want shoes like that!" 

Last week, I told this woman that Kegan is transgender and identifies as a girl. She was immediately accepting and kind. She said many things, all of them quite perfect. I wish I could remember all the gems of wisdom she shared, but I do remember how my heart felt comforted that she was accepting and her daughter would be allowed to continue to be friends with Kegan.

I sent a hasty email to the moms I am friends with in this class last night, along with our amazing teacher to let them know about Kegan's new name. The responses I received from each were beyond my expectations and hopes. 

Our teacher said, "Great for Kegan! I am stoked that she knows who she is and is not afraid of her beautiful self." The one mom wrote to say that her daughter was so worried she would use the wrong name by mistake and to please tell Kegan she is so sorry if she does. Another mom said, "Kids are so much less rigid than adults, my son will be completely fine with this." Deep breath: check. Tears on cheeks: check. Sense of peace: check.

Today we arrived a few minutes late for class, when we arrived the teacher shouted Kegan's new name and followed it with, "Yay! You made it!" The lovely woman, who I will call, Hope, greeted Kegan and Sean with her usual enthusiasm. I sat next to her and she looked at me, she looked at Kegan participating in class, and she said, "Kegan seems much happier now as a girl, she seems lighter." 

I immediately felt such a sense of comfort and said, "Do you really think so? Because I do too! She is much kinder to Sean now and just seems happier to me too!" I didn't know if I was reading into something that wasn't there or looking for confirmation that we made the right choice to embrace Kegan on this journey. My husband has agreed with me that she seems happier and is kinder to Sean, but it seemed easy to believe we were both seeing what we wanted to see. But this woman, completely without any prompting said this and I feel it is so true.

Kegan IS happier. Did she know she was uncomfortable? Did she always feel not quite right? I never thought of Kegan as an unhappy boy, but Hope said it well when she said, "He was intense, she is lighter." 

So to anyone who says this is the wrong parenting move to let our child be who she says she is, who she knows she is, I say, "But she is happier now. And that is all that matters." 

.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's A Girl...With a Brand New Name

Kegan officially has a "girl name" now. Over the weekend she asked us, "Is my name a girl name?" I answered, "No, it is a boy name." I then explained that some names are only girl names like Mary, Sally, and Maria. Some names are only boy names like her name, Jeff, and Michael. But some names could be a boy name or a girl name like Jamie, Kelly, or Carey. 

We asked her if she wanted a girl name and she said she did. We explained that the three of us would have to agree on whatever name was chosen. I felt pressure to pick a name sooner rather than slowly because she is desperate to be seen as a girl and her name is (was) the only thing really preventing that. 

In the past, I had close to nine months to pick the perfect name. Picking a name in just a few days time, that not only two, but three people loved was not quite the leisurely path I have strolled down before. 

When a name was suggested (by me, yay me!) that Kegan, her dad, and I all loved we decided to select it. I was hesitant to pick a name without at least a few weeks to mull it over, test it out, make sure it was "the one." But my husband was brave and said, "Let's do it, she likes it and so do we."

So the next morning, the day after I had "tried it out" on her a few times, we told her she could be called by the special new name if she would like. She smiled and said, "Yes." And that was the big milestone moment...much like everything on this journey, very casual, very simple, and very anti-climatic. 

With a few days of her new name under my belt, I am confident in saying, "It is the perfect name." It is not the name I had chosen if she had been identified as a girl in the hospital and I am quite sure it is a name that was never on my radar as a possible name choice for either of my kids. I don't even think I ever named a doll this name. But it is perfect, beautiful and strong, has a special meaning that fits perfectly with this transition and the values we strive to teach Kegan and Sean. It flows perfectly off my lips when I look at her and say her name, it blends beautifully with Sean's name, and is a perfect match with our last name, I am unbelievably happy with this name choice.  

Even more important is Kegan's happiness with it. She seems to truly love her name. Whether she really thinks this is the most beautiful girl name ever or is simply happy to have a name that makes people only expect a girl, I can't say.  But frequently she says, "Thank you for saying my name automatically." She has thanked Sean when he remembers to use her new name or when he quickly corrects himself. She even called all her grandparents to tell them and when they immediately praised the name choice, her smile said it all. 

So here's to what I kind of consider the final step in this first chapter. This chapter feels like it should be a cliffhanger because I constantly do not know what is happening next, but instead it feels peaceful.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

#Acceptance

"Well, don't you look adorable." 

Those were the first words out of an acquaintance's mouth last week when she saw Kegan in a skirt and tee-shirt. We have very occasional play-dates with her and her son, so have not seen them since Kegan turned in her "boy clothes" for "girl clothes." 

This mom is on my list of people I still need to talk to/inform/check for acceptance, but I guess our small community circumvented another "coming out" email or talk. I could not have been more pleased with her reaction or her kindness to my Kegan. Of course, she hammed it up with a big thank you smile.

That was just about the extent of the conversation as we ran into her as she was heading into an appointment she was already late for, so we didn't even have time to say more than "It is so nice to see you." I expected acceptance from this mom, but her grace and quick response to Kegan were so much more than I ever expected.

Later, on this same day, we finally had a play date with some neighbors who I have been avoiding while I try to figure out how to re-introduce my child to them. We live in a middle class, seemingly conservative-ish neighborhood. Although, to be honest, I am basing that on very little information, just a few casual observations. Anyway, our house is one of the favorite places for the kids in this neighborhood to hang out. I don't know quite why (other than my kids are awesome! Humble, much?) and I have been quite worried about my kids losing friends because of a lack of acceptance.

So our little friend, who is slightly older than Kegan, did a double take when she saw Kegan decked out in a denim skirt and fitted tee-shirt, but then carried on as usual with her standard questions of "Can we play blah, blah, blah?" I had been having anxiety all week because we have been coming home when all the kids are usually out playing, so each day my nerves have been completely shot as I prepped for our first encounter. (I even, quite disturbingly, have been hoping for rain rather than these glorious spring days!)

Today, I intentionally threw my dinner plans out the window so we could stay out longer in hopes of getting this "living in hiding in open sight" drama done with once and for all. And it worked, yay! Our little friend and my kids played just like they always have. I was prepared for questions and answers, I have our Be Who You Are book at the front door, ready to be given to her parents, I have been building up my strength to go talk to her parents....and I had to do nothing. 

Her mom also responded with nothing, which I am taking as a total positive. I was going to explain that Kegan is now identifying as a girl and go through the whole crash course on gender identity I have been rehearsing, but then it suddenly seemed unnecessary at this point. I decided, "Let them just think Kegan is being gender non-conforming without any gender identity aspects." My line of thought is to let them just get used to seeing Kegan dress this way...to slowly build them up for this drastic change in the playmate down the street. I feel like with everyone else we have told we have had to go full throttle with details and a major shift in who Kegan is with no prep time. If our neighbors are comfortable with Kegan being gender fluid for now, then we can ease them into her being a girl as the spring days keep warming our faces. 

Everyone else we have told so far are people that my kids would miss, but would not overtly miss because we don't see our family much and I could readily make excuses (they are sick, we are sick, we are going to ___ instead of there, etc.) that would be accepted with minimal questions. I am not saying my kids would not miss their cousins and grandparents, they would, but we see them infrequently enough that their absence from our lives would be relatively easy to excuse. But the kids in the neighborhood, while not as important relationship wise, would be heavily missed and our daily life would be very negatively affected if our community of neighbors was suddenly unfriendly and didn't play with us. My stress went from 100 to 50 after this encounter. So much relief flooded through me due to their lack of commentary, which I am taking as a total positive and hope it is. We made casual plans for more playing while the kids are on the upcoming spring break...my kids have their friends still! 

I hate that our society is so intolerant of differences, that my expectation is almost always rejection, despite our very positive and often quite loving responses so far to Kegan's gender identity. I hate reading so many articles about the cruelties thrust upon those in the trans* community, I am terrified by the suicide rate of trans* teens, I am often overwhelmed at how much hardship my oldest will face, simply for being true to herself. I hope the acceptance we continue to receive for her is a predictor of a better world for her as she grows. 




Friday, April 11, 2014

Boy Shoes

I overheard the following conversation this morning as the kids were getting ready to go outside:

Sean: I have boy shoes.
Kegan: Yeah, and I have girl shoes.

I stopped in my tracks and suddenly felt slightly nauseous that my kids just labelled shoes as only for boys or only for girls! Shoes! We have spent the past five plus years being gender neutral and now within the last four months we have become a very gender aware family.

I never took my kids to the "boys department" to shop, I took them shopping. Yes, we navigated to the boys section and generally bought "boys" clothes, but I never told them which section we were in. I bought legos, dolls, strollers, groceries, trains, trucks, and craft supplies with equal enthusiasm and very little disparity.  I bought Kegan a pair of pink sparkly shoes when she was two because those were the shoes she picked. I also bought her green camo (which I despise) shoes when she was three because those were the shoes she picked. I have never said "girls should...", "girls can"t...," "only girls...". I have also never said, "boys must..," "boys will be boys," or "only boys..." I have talked about people or "boys and girls," I don't tell my kids they are "good boys." (Or obviously "bad boys."

And suddenly the shoes in our house have gender labels. This is tough. I believe it is necessary to Kegan's transition that she become aware of the gender expressions that show the world "I am a girl," or "I am a boy." Her whole life, everyone has assumed she was a boy, not suddenly she has to make the world see her as how she sees herself. I can't come up with any other ways to do that than:

1. Make a sandwich board for her to wear that says, "I am a girl. Please use female pronouns."
2. Dress the part the way society sees girls.

In order for her to do that she is figuring out what makes society see a child as a girl versus a boy. She has figured out if she wears a dress, people tend to see a girl. If she grows her hair long, people see a girl, If she wears certain shoes, people see a girl. She is right...how else do you distinguish between two kids of opposite genders in size 6?

We have dresses covered, we are getting there with leggings, more fitted shirts, the Mary Janes. But her hair is still too boyish. I have actually talked to my husband about splurging for extensions. For my five year old! I know what it is to have a bad haircut, one far too short. I remember with far too much clarity getting ten inches of hair cut off with one snip of the scissors when I was ten. I burst into tears. I was devastated...I had no idea how drastic it was going from long to so short. I had no idea the patience required to go from all those layers to long again. I think if Kegan had long hair, NOW!, she would easily be assumed to be a girl 99% of the time. But extensions? Really? Outrageous and yet...I am still trying to figure out how to justify the cost. No, actually I am not, I am okay with the cost, I am trying to figure out if it would be okay to do that to a five year old.

Pierced ears are my next thought...short hair gains a a total girl attitude when paired with cubic zirconia or pink sparkly studs. I am pretty okay, not perfect, but comfortable enough, with my five year old getting pierced ears. But not if it is my idea. I want a bosy change like that to come from her. But my kids don't know enough about how girls are defined to even know to ask for pierced ears for Kegan. She knows what earrings are, she sees people wear them ,and has even often admired them...but to think to ask for them, I just don't think she is there yet.

Nail polish was suggested to me. That is a pretty girly decoration, despite the male polish that some men wear. But if Sean wanted to wear it too, I could not allow myself to say "No." I cannot tell him it is only for girls. Sean likes his short hair, so I don't worry about him asking for extensions. I don't think he would ask for pierced ears, especially after watching Kegan scream from the pain...and honestly, I do have a problem with my two or three or even four year old having pierced ears, so that is easy. But nail polish? I specifically bought Piggy Paint in matching colors to my nail polish a few times, so I could let the kids wear nail polish if they asked, Which they never did. 

I sometimes wonder how much of this stuff is my issue versus Kegan's. Kegan is happy. In fact, I sometimes feel she is much happier as a girl than she was as a boy. The changes are subtle, I don't think of her as a pouty or melancholy boy, but she is different. She is kinder to Sean, almost as if a level of self-imposed competition has been removed. I think her being a girl, being who she is, is all she needs right now. The dresses and leggings make her a girl to the world in her eyes, and for the most part they do. Maybe it is my impatience, maybe I am the one who needs this all now. I don't like the occasional stares of "Is that a boy or a girl?" that I see directed at her...very occasionally. I am sure she doesn't even see them, but I do. I just want her to look the part she now stars in.  And yet, at the same time, I don't want either her or Sean to recognize exactly what makes the role of female versus male look legit to our society. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Miss Kegan

Kegan and Sean received snail mail today! There is little more exciting in the day to day events of the world than getting mail addressed to yourself when you are a kid! Today's mail was extra special for Kegan though.

The envelope was addressed to Mr. Sean and Miss Kegan. I asked Kegan if she knew what that meant and she said, "No." I said, "It means that whoever sent this to you knows you are a girl." Kegan has this very special, very big smile that she only uses when she is exceptionally happy. I see it almost every time it is apparent that someone, anyone, is recognizing her female identity. 

When my husband came home I said, "Kegan got some special mail today." She then proceeded to tell, with her big smile, "I got an Easter card and on the outside it said to Miss Kegan. That means they knew I am a girl!!!" 

When people acknowledge and accept Kegan for Kegan right where she is, it is like handing us a magical, amazing, perfect gift handmade with love and hope. 


"Sister"

My kids are playing groceries/serving right now and Sean just said, "I be right back, sister." 

My heart just kind of skipped a beat or two. To hear Sean call Kegan his "sister" is beautiful and comforting. Sean is clearly adapting to these new pronouns and labels. He has said "she" and "her" a few times over the past few days when referring to Kegan, but is certainly on a learning curve of remembering to use these new words in reference to the person known as his "brother" until recently. 

It makes me sad that Sean will never remember having a big brother. Sean will remember for now that Kegan is "changing" from a boy to a girl, but once Kegan has long hair or at least a more feminine hairstyle, once Kegan always wears typical girl clothes, once everyone starts using the proper pronouns for her...Sean will lose the memories of being "brothers" and "the boys."  Sean is not even three...I very much doubt he will even remember anything from this year. 

His lack of memory is bittersweet to me. Sean has expressed on more than one occasion, "I just want Kegan to dress like me." This tells me he struggles with losing a brother who will wear a matching outfit, who will proclaim loudly their same gender. I am glad if he won't remember any sorrow from this year. At the same time, I am sad he won't remember the special "boy bond" they had. 

There has never been anything very "boy" ruled about their existence. They play with dolls as much as they play with trains and trucks. They come in covered in mud, as often as they sit quietly reading books to each other. I have never considered any of those activities to be very boy or very girl centric...they are just kid activities. Things all kids should be allowed to do freely regardless of their gender.  And maybe their activities aren't what defined them as "the brothers" or "the boys," in fact, I know that isn't. Those two labels were bestowed simply because of their genitalia and used because of their clothing choices, their short haircuts, their lack of feminine attributes. So really, the label doesn't matter, but it is still a little sad to lose it. "The brother and sister" just doesn't have the same affection as their former labels.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Girl with the Princess Sticker

Important Disclaimer! It is really hard for me to label clothes as belonging to one gender over the other. I have not done that until Kegan identified as transgender and she needed a way to show her femaleness. I honestly hate the constant clarification of which gender the clothes are or if they "belong" to girls or boys. Somehow, even though we have always tried to treat clothes, shoes, toys, stickers, and hair as belonging to all humans, when you have a girl in a boy's body it seems the only way to clarify her identity to observers is to let her pick all the "girly-girl" options very intentionally.


I love her feet!
Kegan wears a dress or typical girl clothes about 75% of the time now. I never know what reaction we will receive, fortunately we have only received acceptance or tolerance. So far. At least in person, we have family that do not approve, but we obviously don't see them anymore.

Earlier this week I had an appointment at my PCP, Kegan wore a very feminine outfit she selected and Sean ended up in classic boy attire that he selected as well. As we were leaving the office, Kegan asked, "Do they have stickers here?" One of the nurses overheard her and said, "I have stickers right here, hang on, I will bring them to you." My kids are used to peds offices where they get to select their own stickers, so when the nurse handed them each a sticker, I wasn't sure what to expect. 

Kegan smiled largely and said, "Thank you!" I asked, "What did you get?" With a grin, she said, "Princess."  I don't know if this nurse, who I have not seen before, assumed Kegan was a girl or could tell Kegan had a boy body and was comfortable with a gender creative or trans* kid. At this point, and maybe always, it doesn't matter.

Sadly, for Sean the same rule applied and he responded, "But I don't like Piderman!" We had a hushed and quick conversation about appreciating what someone gives you as we left and I asked him what he would have preferred. Sweet Sean answered, "A  kitty-cat."  I was honestly surprised that Sean wasn't sad he didn't receive a Princess as well. Sean, like most little brothers, looks up to Kegan as if Kegan not only hung the moon, but also proposed it, designed it, constructed it, and then after all that also hung it. So while my, to this point, male gender child was disappointed with his "boy sticker," my MTF transgender child was thrilled to be placed in the box with other girls, (As was I.)

On Friday, I took Kegan into our pediatrician's office for a sick call visit because I thought she had pink eye. We are fortunate to go to a practice that allows us to see the same pediatrician for each visit, unless it is a sick-call appointment and our regular doctor is unavailable. It happens, that this month our ped is off on Fridays, so we saw a female doctor we have only met one other time. Because I have spoken with our pediatrician and have been assured that the entire office staff will be welcoming to Kegan, I expected at a minimum, tolerance and no sideways glances. 

The doctor complimented Kegan on her dress, made small talk about the design (earning a few big smiles from K) and used the pronouns she/her very comfortably and naturally. It was awesome! As the kids were selecting stickers, I was able to speak with the doctor privately. I said, "Thank you for being so accepting of Kegan." She said, "Of course! Why wouldn't I be?" I replied, "I don't know why you wouldn't be, but some people just aren't. So thank you, very much." 

I keep waiting for the bullying or the nasty to come out and I don't know if we are just in a honeymoon phase or this transition will be mostly smooth-sailing in the public eye, but I am immensely thankful for the kindness of people who welcome Kegan as a girl in this world. 






Follow Up to "Acceptance"

I just realized my family isn't defined by society's normal anymore. We belong to a new community, the community of families who don't fit neatly into some 1950's stereotype. I knew our family was different, but I have mostly thought of Kegan as the one who is defying social constructs. I thought of the rest of us as just members of her family. The people who champion her, support her, love her, stand up for her and beside her, but mostly her supporting cast versus her fellow leads.

On some level, I am sure I knew our family didn't get to check the box for "same ethnicity/race/creed, heterosexual, two kids, cisgender family" anymore, but even though this transition is a transition for our whole family, it ultimately is Kegan who has to face the biggest challenges and so I hadn't really considered our family challenges.

After I posted my proud little "we are such an accepting family" post I watched some of the Honey Maid videos on the families in their "This is Wholesome" commercial. I then watched their follow up video they made in response to the negative feedback they received for such a beautiful, truthful, perfect commercial.

As I watched the "Love" video tears streamed down my cheeks. I saw words like, "Horrible. NOT wholesome." and "DO NOT APPROVE!" and "Disgusting!!" Those comments are not only about the beautiful families in this commercial, but about my family, about my kids, and I don't ever want them to know how hateful people may be to them because of who Kegan is. Kegan is perfect, she is a perfect little girl whose heart is alive and joyful. Sean is a sweet, sweet little boy who loves his sister, who will do anything to make her laugh, who will not stop breaking a rule if "But Kegan is laughing Mommy!" We are normal, we are a family, we are love.

My heart doesn't ache for the loss of our "normal" label. In fact, it doesn't ache for that at all. It aches for the rejection our kids could face because we don't get to wear that label on our shirts anymore. It aches for the rejection my child will face because she was born in a boy body, but has the brain and heart of a girl.

My tears turned from sorrow to peace as the response continued and Honey Maid said they had received ten times as much positive feedback! I saw words like, "family is family" and "makes my heart happy," and "folks like my family," and "We applaud Honey Maid." Honey Maid said the truth, "That only one thing really matters when it comes to family: Love." They nailed it.

Honey Maid while trying to sell some crackers has validated my family and so many other families. They have validated my child as a person worthy of love, a human being deserving of kindness, a member of our beautiful family equal in her worth to every other little girl who graces this earth.

Our family has left the majority of families who do fit neatly into the "normal" box and we have joined a new community. A diverse, beautiful, strong community of people who fit into our own boxes. Our boxes may not have four ninety degree angles, but they are overflowing with love. And that is really the only thing that makes a family.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Acceptance

Do I even get to call it acceptance, if my kids don't even know there is any other option? Well, they know some people are bigoted against people who are different. They know some people think a man and a man should not be allowed to be married or that some people think African-Americans aren't as good as white people. What they don't know is, why that bigotry exists and I certainly can't tell them why. I do not know why people chose to be bigoted, why people chose to think there is only one right way to live, why people think people have a choice about who they are.

I know this: I can raise my kids in a home where love is always the first response. I can hope they take that with them when they leave.

Today we watched the HoneyMaid commercial and as we watched it I stopped it for each family's part. I asked my five year old, "What is happening here?" for each scene. Below are her answers for the ones that, I assume, seem to be causing all the uproar: 

What is happening here?





I hope these commercials that show a variety of families will normalize these normal families. I hope that they teach that love is what makes a family, not matching skin tones or opposite genders. I hope my kids will always see nothing more than a family when they look at photos or real people who have chosen or been blessed to be together. 



Whose Kid Is This Anyway?

I am not a girly-girl, although I would love to be one! I am likely a little too low maintenance and since having two kids my minimal requirements for upkeep have gotten even lower. I am not sure I have what it takes to teach Kegan all the ins and outs of dress up, make up, hair styling, and certainly not nail painting*.

Zulily has Jelly the Pug clothes on sale right now for crazy cheap prices. I cannot get over how totally adorable these outfits are and I am desperate to buy them for someone. Kegan loves dresses and longer shirts with leggings...Kegan!! I showed the photos to my husband and my dear friend, Sophie, hoping for the same level of enthusiasm I was displaying. (Somewhere between "Must Buy Now! Must Buy Now! and "Add To Cart! Add To Cart! And Add To Cart! Now!") My girlfriend brought the first level of disappointment: "They are too flowery for me." Then my husband closed the deal with, "Those are clothes you would have worn as a kid, they are cute, but are too busy for Kegan's taste."

Slamming my head against my keyboard (Only metaphorically, I didn't want to risk damage to the keys in case someone would tell me Kegan loved these clothes and I needed to place an emergency order!), I announced, "I will show them to her in the morning and see what she thinks!

Who wouldn't love these clothes?
The conversation that followed the viewing of such lovely clothes was as follows:
Me:  What do you think of these clothes?
Kegan: Who are they?
Me: Just models, what do you think of the clothes?
Kegan: I like them!

(Me (inner monologue): Yay! Time to shop! Time to shop!)

Me: I like them too! Dad and Aunt Sophie thought you wouldn't like them.
Kegan (in a ponderous and quite perplexed voice): I think I like other clothes.
Me: I thought you said you like them?
Kegan: I don't.
Me: Then why did you say you liked them?
Kegan (again in the perplexed voice!): I don't know, I think I lost my mind.

So much for someone in this house living up to some gender stereotypes! Maybe I did too good of a job being gender neutral and accepting? 


*Kegan's Dad can at least take care of nail painting lessons as he has to paint mine on the rare occasions I decorate my nails.

What Does Public Mean?

The other day as we were out, I mentioned, "Oh we are near the public library."

Kegan asked, "What does public mean?"

I said, "It means it is open to everyone."

She said, "So anyone can go there, no matter what color they are, if they are white or black or Asian. No matter what religion they are or what beliefs they have."

I was so proud that she understands how important it is to be aware of being fair and accepting of others despite our differences. I know, her understanding of the word "public" doesn't necessarily mean she actually does get it. But we preach that a lot and I think she is getting it. I think Kegan knows we always have more similarities with others than differences and we need to respect others.

I added, "No matter if they are a boy, girl, boy-girl, girl-boy. No matter if they have lots of education or hardly any education, No matter if they are rich with lots of money or poor with hardly any money."

I hope our kids belief that all people are worthy of love will always sway their hearts and lead them in their decisions. I hope they always have public hearts...open for everyone.