Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mom Fail

Kegan and Sean came to work with me today. My total time at work was very brief, but the time I spent preparing and stressing over Kegan's outfit choice was hours.

Kegan has begun wearing dresses almost all the time. I am not particularly close to anyone at work and have not shared Kegan's transgender status with anyone there yet. The kids have maybe come to my office three times in over two years. I know the day is coming when we will be fully out, but I also feel like there are people who don't need to know yet. My colleagues fall into that category. I am not ashamed, if anything I am proud of my child for being so self-aware. I am nervous about negative reactions. I don't think I am quite ready to bring my personal life through the door at work. That is not actually accurate, I am not ready to face a loss of hours (I work on-call) if my boss reacts as I expect based on her conservative outlook.

While I didn't want Kegan wearing a dress, I also didn't want to say he/she could not wear in a dress. So I set the stage and hoped for the outcome I wanted, fortunately Kegan followed my script even without getting the lines. I simply asked, "Are you going to wear these pants today?" I know these particular pants have a special place in Kegan's heart and they definitely fall into the male gender label. Kegan selected the "boyish" outfit and I was relieved. (Guilty too, but I truly do have fears about my employer(s) decreasing my hours based on disagreement with my parenting on this issue, so my guilt was overruled by survival. And Kegan was happy with the outfit, so no harm, no foul.   I hope.)

We arrived at work and my kids were awesome. I was nervous about their behavior because I knew they would have to be calm and quiet (not always their strengths). I left feeling an overwhelming sense of pride and my heart truly felt full at how beautifully they had behaved. So I was feeling good, but I was concerned Kegan was not.

Whenever I talk with Kegan about transgender issues I try to be so cool and casual, like, "So we can talk about this, but it is so not a big deal, and if you would prefer to talk about the color of mud on a rainy day, that is equally as awesome as having this totally not important conversation." That is the image I strive to present, but what I am actually feeling is, "Holy cow, do not screw this up, play it cool, play it cool, do not make Kegan feel awkward, don't be pushy, be open-ended, do not mess up!"

In my mind, talking while we drive is a good location. Kegan is "trapped" and we can't see each other's faces well, so that means it is low key and casual. As we left the parking lot we had this conversation:

Me: So at work everyone kept saying, "Oooh, look at the brothers." How do you feel about that?

Kegan: Not good.

Me: Was it okay that I didn't say anything about it or should I have said something to them?

Kegan: You should have told them to say, "Look at the siblings."

Me: Okay, I am sorry, next time I will. Why do you think people kept saying "brothers"?

Kegan: I don't know.

Me: Do you think they just thought you were a boy?

Kegan: Maybe.

Me: What are you?

Kegan: A girl.

Me: Are you a boy-girl or a just a girl?

Kegan: A girl. Maybe next time I will wear a dress.

Me: Yeah, that might be a good idea.

So that is not verbatim because I didn't think to hit record on my phone, but I need to start doing so because then I can over analyze every word I said and every response Kegan gave even more in depth than I do already. While it may not be an exact transcript, it is pretty close.

I am not sure how much Kegan is processing with each new experiences, but it seems he gets that if he wears a dress people will see him/her as a girl, which is clearly what Kegan needs. It is interesting that Kegan said "I am a girl," versus the usual "boy-girl." My husband and I are expecting Kegan to identify as a girl versus boy-girl based on Kegan's comments and behaviors. So far Kegan has not done so, but has identified as both a boy and girl. Maybe that is a gateway to a full transition. Maybe Kegan is just very fluid now and always will be.

Either way, I better put my game face on and hope my employers are more accepting than I am giving them credit for because the next time we go there Kegan is going to make sure no one sees him/her as boy only. I am so proud of Kegan for knowing who he/she is. I hope that when the taunts inevitably begin (hopefully not for years!), Kegan can remember how safe he/she was for so long, how boldly and quietly he/she identified his/her gender and gender expression. I hope Kegan's total lack of awareness, of how different he/she is from society's expectations for a five year old born with a penis, segues nicely into strength and courage when he/she does realize he/she is different than many, but definitely not all.

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