I identify as the gender I was assigned at birth. So was my oldest. And my husband. My mom. Aunt. Papa. You get the point.
When I walk in to a room full of people, there is usually at least one person like me – a female. An assigned at birth, female.
I dont have to search hard. And it is comforting to know that wherever I find myself, chances are there is at least 1 other person that shares a similar past. And I dont have to look far, or hard, or question.
Such as knowing we were born as one gender that we strongly identify with.
For me, gender dysphoria was never a thought I had. I did not even know what that term was until my psych classes in college. That term never played a part in the way I was raised, or my values as I grew up.
I was born a girl. I identified as a girl. I am a girl. And what was under my clothes, was never a concern or issue. Everyone knew I was a girl. And I can easily find comraderie with other females.
Fast forward to having E. 4 years ago, the black and white definition I had of gender – was tossed, twisted, chewed up, and spit out like a badly aged piece of venison jerky.
Let me clarify my meaning behind black and white definition. I have always been accepting and an ally. But I never truly understood what it meant to be transgender. I personally never encountered a transgender individual. So I never took the time to understand what being trans meant.
And quite honestly, I will never understand what type of inner battles, daily battles, a transgender person will have to, need to, overcome. I will stand by their side, as an ally, a supporter. I can sympathize. But never empathize.
The ultrasound said we were having a girl, and a boy. And that is how we moved forward.
Until E was 2.5. And she was experimenting with being gender creative.
It started with headbands. A skirt here and there. A hand-me-down dirty dress from her big sister.
It began behind closed doors at home. And then we got the courage to go to the store. And by we, I dont mean E. I mean me. And then her dad begrudgingly.
Alot of tears were shed. Fights ensued. Fiery debates happened. Tensions fierce.
Boundaries were made. If we had listened to E 4 years ago, she would have been socially transitioned back then. But we didnt.
We made rules. Not at family functions. Not at school.
We broke rules. More like I broke rules. I coddled E. I let her wear her pretties to reunions and Pow Wows. I stashed a dress in her luggage without daddy knowing until it was too late on a camping trip.
I fought with my husband. I debated with him. I took the brunt.
Away from E. Out of her sight. At a time she couldnt hear us.
Her daddy loved her then, and loves her now. No matter what. He will always love her unconditionally.
But having a transgender child is effing hard. Your ultrasound said one gender at 18 weeks in utero. You were handed a baby with one set of genitals. The nursery, the crib, the toys, the clothes all purchased were for that gender.
Months of sleepless nights were spent dreaming about what stereotypically masculine activity, or hobby, or passion, your son would grow up to do. You dream about this future. Your future is tightly intertwined with those dreams. Doing whatever you can to help your son achieve them.
And then your dreams come to a 60mph sliding stop as your ABS fails to engage. And then you slam. Straight in to the wall.
What do you do? How do you proceed? Your previous dreams, are they smashed to smithereens to a point where you give up and move on? Or can they be rebuilt?
Anyways. Where was I going with this post?
Ah yes. E has officially been socially transitioned for 7 months now. The first few were hell. But I look back, and I compare E to L. L never fit E. E fits E. And she is so happy.
Or is she?
E has a communication disorder, sensory processing disorder, and we think she is on the Autism spectrum.
But she is a fierce warrior and never gives up. She may not be able to “read the room” or understand intentions of others. But she has worked extremely hard to be able to communicate her feelings to us.
To tell us she is happy, or angry. That she needs to take a break from class and play with playdoh. To tell us that it hurt her feelings when another child pushed her. That she feels like she is going to get angry and needs to take a walk.
To tell us she is a girl.
Getting to this point, has not been easy. She used to just hit and kick and scream. But now she is using words. Its progress.
The school brought in a psych student intern that specializes in kiddos that need additional behavioral assistance as well as gender dysphoria.
I got a call a couple of weeks ago from her. We have been in contact throughout the school year. But this last call, was different.
She started out by telling me that when she first met E, she felt that her gender dysphoria was not a big issue. Especially with all of the supports and love that she has. So she focused more on communication.
But that changed about a month ago. Her and E did an activity where she listed things that made her happy, sad, mad, excited, etc. 1st graders usually say things like recess makes them happy and math makes them mad.
And then, there is our 1st grader.
It makes her sad when other people call her by her deadname. Or by the wrong pronoun. Even if it’s a mistake. She has a hard time reading the room. To tell if it was said by a child making fun of her. Or maybe it was a child that didnt know her new name. Every time she is deadnamed, even by people she knows love her, it hurts.
Taking a shower alone, makes her sad (a story/reason why I am not going to discuss further).
There was more. But I started to zone out after that. Stiflying my sobs as tears started falling.
My 1st grader should be worried about math. Not about her body.
My 1st grader should be excited about recess. Not worried about someone calling her by the correct name.
My 1st grader will never have the comfort I have when I walk in to a room of women.
Whether she knows this or not, she is fighting an inner battle. An experience that not many other people will have experienced. Let alone understand.
My daughter, is in a school full of staff that is amazingly supportive, that goes above and beyond, every single day for her.
But she is surrounded by people (currently) that will never understand how soul crushing it is to be called the wrong name. The wrong gender.
Even if it is said as a mistake – souls may crush a little less. But they still fragment.
Kids are kids. She went 95% of kinder as L. The hope was that by completely socially transitioning her for 1st grade, that maybe it wouldn’t be as hard.
But maybe it is even harder.
As a parent, I hurt for her. I weep for her. This is an internal battle I cant fight for her. I can only love her and support her. And provide her with the tools she needs to realize that she is worth it.
Do we move her to a school where no one knows her? At all?
Or do we keep her in a school where the staff know her and love her and can now easily talk her into unlocking the bathroom (and not Mama on the principals speaker phone).
There are pros and cons to each. Neither are going to help her battle that inner demon. Both have the ability to be just as harmful.
As a parent, how do you pick the least harmful?
E is happy as E. Even with the pain she experiences daily. Even through the soul crushing moments she doesnt tell us about.
E is happy as E. Even though the people around her have no idea the inner battle she silently fights.
E is happy as E. Because E, is living her true self.
I may not be able to fight her inner battle. But I sure as hell can make sure that inner battle hurts a little less.
I will always be her anchor in the storm. Even when it feels as if there is no bottom for the anchor to dig in to.