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.