Jessie and her journey, for which I am just along for the ride, amazes me in different ways and for different reasons every day. And, based upon the reaction from the community, it clearly amazes others, too. I have spent a fair amount of time pondering this and have come up with a few possible explanations:

1. The “what would I do if it were my kid” phenomenon

I have said this before, and will say it again…every person that I know personally (or, I am willing to bet, have one to two degrees of separation from me…however, anyone beyond two I am not prepared for vouch for) would do the exact same thing Rich and I are doing. Perhaps not step by step, but I can assure you, as a loving person (remember, I only let those people in my life) not only would you do it, but you would do it with grace, class and, if you are wise, a sense of humor.

2. The “thank G-d it isn’t my kid” phenomenon

I get this. Trust me. I would like to think that I would save any criticisms, judgments or opinions were I not living this out myself, but, in the interest of honesty, I would have some concerns and would probably wonder if these people (in this case, the Rosses) had lost their minds in allowing a ten-year old to steer such a huge ship. (Aside: she is not in full control of the wheel, we have, like in cars used for driver’s ed, our own special brake pedal). Seriously. To prove it, I will admit that when Harrison was about four I knew a woman who had two sons – one was Harrison’s age and the other was around two. The two year old regularly wore glitterly flip flops and pink polish on both his fingers and his toes. I (and I am not proud of this, just keepin’ it real) recall commenting to another mother that I found that odd and not necessarily a great parenting move. There, I said, it. But here’s the thing…I did think that. I might even have thought it again as recently as six months ago yet I am not homophobic or transphobic (I might have just made up that word)…it just wasn’t on my radar. And that is okay.

3. The “this is juicy shit, makes me feel better about my own stuff” phenomenon

Again, this is fair. This is human nature. I will, again, share my own guilt in subscribing to this thinking. This past weekend there was a big drinking party in my neighborhood which, surprise, surprise, got out of hand and broke up upon arrival of ten police cars at the house. With my nose in the air, I am happy to say that Harrison was not there, but boy, was this a good story. Many of the kids that were there I have known since they were in elementary school. They are, at the core, good kids. Their parents, I am quite sure, were less than pleased and wished like hell that they didn’t have to deal with this whole thing, right down to the “embarrassment” and ramblings among the community. Man, do I get that. Granted, making a bad choice in attending an unchaperoned party is a veritable rite of passage for teenagers and transgenderism is a little (okay, a lot) less expected, but the response is not all that different, really. I own it: I was a little glad to see other people have to deal with stuff that was scary, unpleasant and worthy of being judged by others.

4. The “I always knew something was different with that kid” phenomenon

Anyone who has ever, under any circumstance, met George (n.c.i.) remembers George. This has been corroborated and documented time and again not only by me, but by others (including Harrison) as well. It is at once a beautiful and “sonofabitch” thing. Many people are immediately smitten with her (g.c.i.) opinions (many) thoughts (many) and suggestions (even many-ier). Some are wooed by her charm. Others have described her as disarming, interesting and/or peculiar. But no one ever forgets her. Among the ever-growing list of subscribers to this blog are five of her preschool teachers and several of the administrators and teachers she has had at her current elementary school. One of my favorite comments came from a preschool teacher who said, “Even as a 5-year-old, I knew I had a lot to learn from Jessie!”

5. The “I like the way Julie writes” phenomenon

Well, thanks, if that is why you are interested. I was asked the other day how I came up with stuff to write about so often. My response, which bears repeating, was: trust me, there is no dearth of material.

So, whatever your particular reason is for being interested in this story, I thank you for allowing me to share with you.


26 thoughts on “Phenomenons

  1. The cool thing about the “what if it were my kid” phenomenon … is that you are giving us all a roadmap. We may or may not find ourselves with transgendered kids, but we now know that when we are faced with the totally unexpected, unplanned, unconsidered situation with our family … we, like you, can choose to handle it with raw honesty, bravery amidst the trepidation, and a huge dollop of humor. Not sure I’d succeed as well, but you sure do provide an admirable example to follow.

    • True – one guarantee in life is that nothing is guaranteed and it is definitely safe to say that, to a person, we will all face unexpected, unplanned and unconsidered situations. And there is no saying I have succeeded. Yet, anyway!

    • Beautifully said, Debbie. That is exactly why I referred to you as a POWERHOUSE, Julie. . What an amazing gift you are giving us all who read your blog…you are showing us an example of how to handle & manage, in what seems to be the absolute best way possible, “the unexpected, unplanned and unconsidered” situations we all may face at some point. You are very brave, and I hope what you get in return for sharing so openly is a greater sense of empowerment and strength.

      • I think Debbie hijacked this thread! Well deserved. As parents, even as adults, these kids can teach us every day…

  2. Julie: I love reading and thanks for including me. I think we all have our issues with kids that make everyone else think — thank god it is not me. My son has dyslexia and school is really hard for him. And we find it super stressful in terms of thinking about college/careers/etc. When he was first diagnosed with issues, i would cry every day because I felt overwhelmed — how to I manage this, how do I get him the right help? But then things became more normal. I don’t mean to compare the two, but I would bet that over time things will hopefully become more normal for you. Living in Silicon Valley, my kids are exposed to lots of different perspectives. They think it is totally normal for people to have two dads or two moms, and hopefully they will learn to be tolerant. I am quite sure they would love Jessie — she sounds fabulous.

    • Heehee…did I forget to mention that Jessie is dyslexic, too? And as for the tolerance…so far so good. It is breaking out of the cocoon that worries me.

      • Ben too! Julie that alone can be a frustrating journey…can anyone add ADD to that list?? Thanks for your honesty and humor!

      • Uh, yup…and, not to be competitive, but we don’t just have ADD, we’ve got the H thrown in there to…ADHD = fun stuff.

  3. I agree with Debbie. You are putiing something deeply personal out there. Regardless of the subject we all go through things that we know will be judged and gossiped about by others. No one is immune and everyone has their own drama or dramedy as I like to call it. My mom taught me along time ago to laugh and find the humor in everything because there IS humor in almost every situation. The old addage … you have to laugh or you’ll cry is so true and really helps us define and navigate these trying situations. And while some situations may be bigger an others it helps us to know we are not alone in the trials and tribulations of life. I only know that open honest and pure dialogue like yours, which is beautifully written, is
    a gift!

    • One of my lowest moments during this period was when I felt as though I had lost my sense of humor which was something my father taught me not to do. I felt crushed by not only the loss of my sense of humor, but then, in classic Julie form, compiled it with a conceived “failure” in letting my father down. It was a rough night and the next morning was not much better with my swollen, painful eyes, but I got through it. Probably by making a joke of it.

  4. OK, you nailed it…..I have all these syndromes

    My first reaction was definitely “what would i do, and how would my parents react?”…..pathetic but true… I also had a “wow, imagine suddenly turning my smelly 15 yr old boy into a cute girl with outfits ” moment. Daughter envy. But now i have someone to whom i can give my size 7 cowboy boots …so I’m living the dream

    I admit….I indulged in a little Thank God Not Me….which is what other parents have been thinking about us for years……so i felt entitled to a little gloat.

    Yes…this is very Juicy Shit….no question about it….the office mgr in my dentist office called me for an update.

    Reading Julie’s writing…..always a treat, and the Jessie Formerly Known as George was always good material….
    I once asked a friend if she knew the Ross family from the Pool….let’s just say she knew nothing of Julie but definitely knew Georgie.

    Real life is stranger, funnier and cooler than anything you can make up…

    Rock on Julie….show us the path

  5. Hi! Internet stranger here from Birmingham, Alabama. Thank you for sharing this journey with the world. You are indeed, a powerhouse and your son and daughter are lucky to have you.

    • Birminhgham, Alabama! Ladies and gentlemen, I believe I have my first follower who is about 18 degrees of separation!

      Thanks for your kind words…but, let’s make this about me for a minute. How did you find me??

  6. Dear Jules~This reminds me of the old story (fable?) about the magician who came to the small village in Olde England and told the villagers that he could get rid of their biggest problems. He invited each person to hang (a symbol of) their problem on his magic clothesline. I remember three of them, one was a poor man, one was crippled, and a third had red hair. (I know, I know. I was stymied even way back then by that red hair issue even though I was only about seven!). Anyway, when the problems were all strung out on the line, crutches, pants with the pockets turned out, a lock of red hair (!), etc, everyone was told to run and grab the thing they’d rather be afflicted with. They all ran for their original problems. I suspect that, if we all hung our “Dirty laundry” on a line (and mine would include a seventeen year old daughter who has disowned me and a twenty year old that is working his way back into our good graces after dropping out of college and lying about it for a whole semester) you would run right back to the part of the clothesline that had a gender identity issue dangling from it. Unless the clothesline had a lock of red hair! Fondly~Shaun

    • My mother has often told me a similar story, only her’s went like this:

      If a group of people were sitting around a table and everyone put their “shit” in the middle, you would want to keep yours.


      • My mom often told me that my Bubbie often said, if everyone put their problems in a bowl and were asked to pick the ones they wanted, everyone would pick their own.

  7. Last week I went to dinner with two friends I have known since junior high school. It was a rare occassion that we founf the time to leave our families for thr evening, but it was necessary for our sanity with school vacation around the corner.
    Our conversation went from discussing our kids (we each have 3), college acceptance letters, vacation (in my case STAYcation), my new piercing, breast sizes, summer, who’s screwing name it. I brought up a very interesting, moving and unbelievably raw post via a friends facebook page. It was yours. As I began discussing it, both of my dinner companions knew who I was talking about. Your 2 degrees of seperation kicked in. We talked about the “what would I do” scenario. I would hope that I would be able to dive head in, sink or swim, for the sake of my child. I would hope that my friends would support me. I would hope that my children would always love and care for their sibling, protecting them from harm.
    Thank you for educating me. Thank you for sharing your ups and downs. I hope our paths cross some day…

    • See, I told y’all that there is less than one degree of separation! I am dying to know who your dinner companions are! Thanks for the beautiful note…

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