Bag. Barn. Blog?

January 26, 2012

When George (n.c.i.*) first came to us in September and declared his deep desire to be a girl we, with the exception of our most intimate relationships , kept it under wraps. We did so for many reasons: shock/fear/anxiety, hoping for a little bit of time to create a new reality, wonder over its “legitimacy” and, frankly, ignorance as to how to move forward. In our numerous consultations with his therapist the recurring message was that we were just along for this ride and the lead was not ours to take. No sooner had those words been uttered than George (again, n.c.i.) made the announcement (without our knowledge) to one of his teachers at school. That day has heretofore been referred to as the day that the cat was out of the bag. It was December 12, 2011…the day after Jessie’s (n.c.i.) birthday. Profound, right?

Now thrust into a point of no return we started with the first of what would become numerous meetings with administrators, teachers, psychologists and guidance counselors at the school in an attempt to work together in a timely (but not knee jerk) manner and figure out how to work with and disseminate this new information in the least chaotic way possible. It took countless conversations, phone calls, consultations with anyone who knew anything, letter writing, wordsmithing and scripting but in the final hours of a Friday afternoon in the fourth grade, the classes were each met with and told that George was now Jessie. That day is known as the day that horse was out of the barn.

So here we are now, about a month since the official announcement at school and everyone in the community who knows about the change has taken it in and moved on to whatever they have going on in their own lives. The initial shock is gone and, while I am sure there is chatter on the playground and at the local Starbuck’s, the transition has been shockingly seamless. So the worst (in terms of letting people know) is over. Right? Wrong.

Every single day, assuming I leave the house (which I do. everyday) I am burdened with a concern over who I might bump into that falls into any number of different categories: they don’t know (but wonder why George (n.c.i.) is next to me dressed in pink and has hairclips to match), or they’ve heard something but don’t know officially, or they know but are too awkward or embarassed to bring it up, or is a person I have known for years and is not anyone that I feel I need to tell, but somehow I do. This happened just the other day. I was at gymnastics class and saw a woman I have known since childhood but see primarily on Facebook. She knew all about George (n.c.i.) from my various status updates quoting him and his ongoing hysterical banter and impressive works of art. She even commented on what a funny son I had. All the while I am growing increasingly anxious with the knowledge that Jessie (n.c.i.) is about to come bounding out of the class, hairclips hanging, sweat dripping and elation oozing leaving me with some explaining to do. Feeling no other option, I, as matter of factly as possible, brought her up to speed. Because transgender stuff is so fraught with emotion, I had to make a conscious effort to keep it short and sweet which, of course, I failed at miserably. Twenty five minutes later, with my arm being tugged by a certain ten year old who was ready to go home, I was still in conversation with a perfectly lovely woman who never, in my wildest dreams, would be on my short list (or any list, for that matter) of people I felt a need to share this information with. Yet there I was.

I’m one of those people who seems to know everyone and, while most have six degrees of separation, I seem, for reasons unknown, to have about two degrees. I happen to have a good memory for both names and faces and have been known, on occasion, to start conversations with random people who have gone on to become friends. I’m not sure if it is a gift or a burden. I am sure, however, that it has put me in a position that, at every turn, there is someone I see or think of that I “really should tell” what is going on, yet I simply cannot. (Note: my inability speaks to the sheer number of people, not any issue I have with the information. I’m so over that part.)

All this brings me to my latest burning issue: the cat sneaked out of the bag and the horse barreled out of the barn. Is it time now to go fully wide and officially blog about this? My initial email distribution list started off with under a dozen people and is now north of fifty yet there is something holding me back. Some of my most trusted advisors have weighed in about tossing this out there for public consumption, yet I remain conflicted. Any and all opinions are welcome.

Finally, here is a blurry picture (people kept walking in front of me and then Jessie caught me about to take it so turned away, wrecking the fantastic moment) that I took yesterday at gymnastics.

That is Jessie (with her back to the camera. Stinker), hanging with two other girls waiting for class to start. The girl in pink had just greeted Jessie with a “hi, Jessie..I like your hair that way” making her my new hero. A small, but happy moment.


*n.c.i. = name choice intended

9 thoughts on “Bag. Barn. Blog?

  1. I’d written a comment minutes ago and hit (obviously) the wrong key and presto, it disappeared!

    Anyway, my 2 cents: you were born to do this – write, that is – so write you must. As often as you want, on anything you want. Your words ring warm & true, your posts are moving & compelling to read. A book (or two) one day? Most likely. All in good time. That’s not the point of why you’re doing this, I know that. We, the people you’ve allowed to read along on this journey, are learning from you and Jessie, and that will make us better people, better parents.

    I am so glad you password-protected this, Julie, I was going to suggest it. I’d think a priority for you is protecting Jessie and all of the Ross’ privacy, so this helps. I don’t know that you want the “Share” buttons for Facebook and Twitter, though– can you disable/delete them? That is, unless you don’t mind if one of us shares your posts. (I will not.) The writing is terrific, I just wonder if your privacy is compromised.

    Tell me to stuff it if you want, just my opinion :).

    You are the perfect parent for this journey with Jessie. That must be why she felt safe enough to share her secret at just 10 years old. She knows how much she is loved by her family. That’s incredibly brave. Bravo!

  2. I was just referred to your blog from a friend of yours who thought I would enjoy it and enjoy it, I do. And, I will send you a more personal email when I am done reading, but I just want to comment on this subject here. I find blogging to be for me. I like to get this stuff out of my head. I’m not sure what your goal is. Is it to process the info. or is it to share it in one place so you don’t have to repeat it all over the community? If it is for you, then, you don’t have to worry about going public, in fact for me, it is easier to be anonymous because then I can really pour it out, the real personal stuff and not worry about those neighbors judging. But, that’s just me.
    I will write more and make reference to this comment so you’ll know that is who I am. I am really enjoying your writing style on top of everything else.

    • I’m happy to have you and am glad that you are enjoying being along for the ride. (No fair, you get to get off when you want!)

      This blog actually started off as emails to my most intimate circle in hopes of keeping them up to date on what was happening with us and Jessie and, as word got out, it morphed into this blog. Initially all posts were password protected, but I decided that as long as I have control over the comments that are seen publicly, it is all good.

      Hope you keep reading and commenting!

  3. Your writing moves me on many levels and I completely agree with mdana that you will make me a better parent for reading this blog. I can’t put into words the love I feel between you and your daughter, but it is an invaluable example for all the world to see. Thank you for sharing.

    • I do love that kid! And, as I have told her: I don’t care if she is a boy, a girl or a martian as long as she is happy.

  4. I am so behind, considering when you wrote this.
    But I am touched beyond words at the story so far. I see nothing wrong with you blogging about this, simply because I can tell you would never do anything to hurt Jessie.
    And, I think it would do many people good to see the unconditional, true, never ending love in your family. I was a little shocked to see how supportive her big brother is. So on top of saying you’re awesome for being so supportive, I also want to say that you and your husband are beyond-words wonderful parents for raising a young man who went to GSA meetings after hearing the news. Sadly… there are many parents and families (some I have had the displeasure of meeting) who refuse to do anything supportive when this touches their own lives. 🙂 I hope you are all well, and can’t wait to keep on reading to see more of your brave brave Jessie’s journey.

    • Thanks for pointing out how supportive my older son has been…it has been a joy to see. In fact, it makes me even happier when they fight as it lends more normalcy to life!

  5. My child (born male) came out as a transgender 16 year old female just weeks ago and I’m very thankful we have a mutual friend who directed me to your blog. I can relate so perfectly how it feels to leave the house each day, not knowing who I will see, if they know, if they will try to ask me about it (how I’ll handle that because really, from one minute to the next, who knows?) and if, although I probably don’t really need to, I’ll be inclined to tell them. Because while I’m really tired of it being what I talk to my friends about so much (what did we ever talk about before?), I can’t stop feeling like I’m hiding when I don’t share. Which is really hilarious bc I tried to teach my daughter that there’s a difference between hiding something and broadcasting it over fb. I am looking forward to reading on–and not, and I hope it’s not so long ago that you can’t understand that one.

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