Life has been busy Chez Phoenix, hence the long hiatus between posts. You ever have so much going on that you can’t pick just one thing to write about? It’s been like that.
The most important thing we’ve been dealing with recently is Hipster Tween’s (hereafter referred to as HT) evolution from identifying as a girl and my daughter to a trans kid identifying as a boy and my son. Their asking for chest binders for Christmas was a big clue, not that I was totally unaware of which way the wind was blowing, because Tumblr.
Last week I had a meeting at school with HT’s guidance counselor, the teacher who runs the Gay/Straight Alliance, and the district LGBTQ+ social worker. HT also attended so we could make sure and include him in the decision making processes, such as the name he would like to go by, how he would like people to be informed of the changes, how to handle bathrooms, details like that.
I am fortunate in that I live in a city that is very progressive about these things.
Quite a few people are checking in with me, asking me how I feel about this change and am I okay?
It seems like what they really mean is “are you okay with this?” which I think is meant to be solicitous, but it bothers me. This is not for me to be okay with or approve of. My child being trans is a fact, and you don’t get to have an opinion about facts. They just are.
HT is trans. HT is trans? Okay, so that’s happening. What can I do to make sure he feels safe and loved and supported? How can I make sure that the larger world, which is hostile, and even dangerous, to non-binary conforming people (see: Leelah Alcorn), negatively impacts my child as little as possible?
My main parenting philosophy has always been that HT is his own person. I provide certain guidelines so that he grows up able to function in Real Life, and the rest is giving him a safe place where he can figure out who he is within that context.
I navigate, HT steers.
I didn’t have a grand future envisioned for my offspring that will never come to pass now that he identifies as a boy. I am not thrown off-balance by my kid identifying as trans. Nothing is really going to change in terms of how I deal with him. My parenting is all about raising a compassionate, intelligent, balanced person. All I want is for HT to be happy, whatever form that might take. Happiness is not gender-specific or sexuality-oriented.
Ironically, HT is showing a great deal less anxiety about going to school now than he did last year, when he still identified as a girl. Me, I’m terrified for him. But I’m also proud of him for how brave he is being about this, especially in light of his social anxiety issues.
I’m also screwing up his pronouns constantly and calling him by the name I’ve been using the past 12 years and correcting myself. He’s being very patient.
Am I disappointed that my daughter is now a son? No.
Do I love my child any less? Hell no.
Am I frightened of what the world might do to him? Just as much as I was when he was a girl.
Image by ParaDox, used with Creative Commons license.