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!

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The more we educate and have open dialogue, the safer our world becomes. Please share your thoughts, be honest, be brave, be kind. I can't wait to hear what you think!