Waitin’ for the haters

I have experienced a seismic shift in our journey with Jessie.  It began when I first logged onto my computer this morning to find that the interview I had done with The Phoenix (which would run in Boston, Portland and Providence as well as online) was live.  If you have not seen it, here it is:

http://thephoenix.com/Boston/news/134795-telling-jessies-story/

After reading it (and reveling in how great my hair looks in the picture) I was acutely aware of being even further out there than we were just a day ago.  In truth, I saw it was live last night, but chose not to read it.  I guess I needed to take it in with a good night’s sleep under my belt (like I ever have a good night’s sleep!) and the benefit of it being a new day.  Thankfully, I was not disappointed.  It was appropriate, sensitive and in no way skewed my perspective or sentiment.  It gave a deserved shout out to the school which has handled this better than I could ever have hoped. (And, seriously, how great is that picture?)  I determined that I was good with it and then, between imploring Jessie to get the hell out of the shower already, checking in with Harrison and having a little breakfast, I forwarded the link to my original email distribution list of about two hundred people.

By the time I arrived at the gym, my email was blowing up and people were stopping me alongside the elliptical to compliment me on a great article.  The seemingly only three people at the gym who had not yet heard about Jessie approached me to inquire as to what all the hubbub was about.  What struck me was the ease with which I was now able to tell the story (as opposed to just a few weeks ago when my old friend Jill had to literally hold my hand as I told my new friend Michelle that the little girl in gymnastics that her daughter has grown to adore is physically a boy).  I felt a new degree of empowerment and comfort with where we are right now.

At the same time, however, I am bracing myself for the haters.   I have not encountered even one person who has expressed disdain or disapproval.  There have been loads of questions, all of which I have been happy to answer.  This is unchartered territory and the very nature of a transgender ten-year old lends itself to discomfort, yet I continue to be amazed by the acceptance that has permeated all the feedback I have gotten. That being said, I am wildly aware that the piece in The Phoenix will likely be a game-changer.  No longer can I even pretend to be in a cocoon of any sort and any insular protection I may have felt I had has been replaced by the big bad world.

That is life though, isn’t it?  We start out sharing (fill in the blank) with our closest allies until we feel safe in going wider.  Then, we tell some more ancillary folks.  It usually gets easier each time and then we realize that our secret isn’t a secret anymore and, boy, is that liberating.  To be honest, though, it is also scary.  Sure, it has gotten easier for us the more often we tell the story, but great care has to be taken in reminding ourselves that the wider we go, the further we are from our cocoon, the less control we have and the greater the likelihood that one crazy, nut-job hater who has nothing better to do than worry about decisions I have made with my child might feel entitled to spew venom.  The fact of the matter is, they are entitled to spew venom and a part of me almost encourages them to have at it, if for no other reason than to afford them the opportunity to realize how insane it is for them to be worried about my kid.

Bravado aside – I am as prepared as I can be for the haters.  I will also go to great lengths to protect my children, both Jessie and Harrison, from venom, vitriol and ignorance.  I don’t care if they are boys, girls or Martians…mess with me, don’t mess with my kids.

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44 thoughts on “Waitin’ for the haters

  1. Dear courageous, beautiful Julie-with-great-hair,

    Congratulations. Again, inspiration oozing. I’m wondering what it would be like to think of the ‘haters’ as afraid and confused and you as a source of wisdom and brilliance for them. I can imagine them dissolving in all this love and not having to hate at all. Wow – what an impact!

    Much love and gratitude for the work you are doing in this world,
    Kathy

  2. Great article, Julie. I hope that “the haters” never make themselves shown. Maybe shedding light on this topic in the manner you did has eliminated the ignorance that feeds bigotry and “hate”. Besides, who could hate such a cute kid and her Mom.

    I hope we can take advantage of the limited free time you have to grab lunch/coffee/drinks again.

    • I can only try to educate those who are willing to listen. To hell with the others.

      Coffee, lunch…we will make it happen!

  3. If I haven’t said it before in a previous comment, I’ll say it now. You have a lot of people, many who you don’t even know, that have your back. Harrison’s back. Rich’s back. And most importantly, Jessie’s back. Great job Mom!!!!

    • That is great to know. If we could put an extra person in charge of my back (literally — I am still waiting for my lowest two discs to fuse!) it would be even better!

  4. Who could hate such an adorable child and such an adorable mother? I know, I know…there is such a thing as the “the big bad world” but rest assure that, in addition to have been doing a great job in handling such a significant change in your family configuration with grace, with love, and with humor, you’ve been offering an exemplary lesson of life (in all respects!) to hundreds of people. You’ve been spreading love and wisdom beyond your closest circle of family and friends, and that by itself, helps to open people’s eyes (and hearts) and avoid those possible negative reactions usually fueled by lack of knowledge (and why not say it out loud…by the stupidity and boredom of those who don’t have anything else to do). Julie, YOU ROCK! xoxoxo. Cecilia
    Oh…and congratulations for the great article!

    • You know that my love for your youngest (and, you, of course) is a reflection of your parenting…and this beautiful note is further proof that I choose my friends wisely. Love.

  5. Great article. But, full disclosure: I always read comments, looking for haters. Not here, just on articles about Rick Santorum.

  6. Jules…… I have much experience with haters right now.. And I will tell you it is mostly due to their own ignorance!!! I smile so much that I even say ” mr demille , i am ready for my close up!” my experiences right now are not the life altering experience that your family is going through …. But it is a firestorm and it will eventually die down. I hold my head soooo high I should be standing 6 feet tall! I have never lost my integrity and never will compromise it for anyone!! The lessons my children are learning from ” grown ” ups are unbelievable! First and foremost my kids are happy and healthy and loved!!! I don’t believe you will encounter the haters but knowing you .. You will have a great sense of humor in dealing with them!!! And they will LOVE
    you!!

  7. Thank you, a million times over, Julie for sharing this journey. And thank you as well to WordPress for “freshly-pressing” your blog, or I very likely wouldn’t have had the opportunity to begin to know you and Jessie. I have a feeling that the fortress of love and support that surrounds you will overwhelm the haters. This isn’t to say that they won’t try, and you won’t be stung at some point, but your core is strong, and a reminder that your mothering is beautiful to behold. I look forward to reading more about each of you. Your humour is refreshing and your insights get to the heart of what truly matters. Much love to you and your family!

  8. As one of the “seemingly only three people at the gym who had not yet heard” I was blown away by your strength and positivity. With your support, I know that Jessie will grow up to be an amazing person (just like her mom)!!!

    • So much for my being cryptic! I reserve the right to be weak and negative sometimes, too…especially at the gym!

  9. I have a question…I don’t know if you’ve covered this in a different section of your blog. But how do you decide whom to tell, and whom not to tell? This came to my mind when saw the sentence about having to hold your friend’s hand while telling another friend that Jessie is biologically a boy. Do you and/or Jessie want people to know that she is transgender, or just a girl? Or does it just depend – there are certain situations (like among friends) where it’s just more practical and better to handle directly rather than her finding out from someone else, or you think parents need to know so that they can explain to their kids so that things are smoother between everyone? Are you both addressing this directly and openly as much as you can because it’s an issue that you feel needs to be brought up publicly – or do you address it only on a need-to-know basis (well, aside from the article!), with the goal that she can just lead a normal life without it being an issue/conversation that always comes up? Or is all of that still being worked out?

    • Fair questions, all of them.

      Jessie fully identifies as a girl. However, she did spend the first ten years of her life as a boy and has accumulated many friends and acquaintances over that time who had to be told of the change. In public and with new people she is clearly a girl. The reason I felt so much angst over telling the other mom was that her daughter and Jessie had developed a fast and wonderful friendship and I felt that it was unfair to not be honest with the other mother. I assumed from having spent a little time talking with her that it would not be an issue, but one never knows.

      We are pretty open about it all. Jessie is just that kind of kid. If she were not and if at any time she become uncomfortable with it all, we will stop. She feels so freed in having been true to herself and wants other kids to feel the same way.

      She is leading a remarkably normal life. It took a ridiculously short time for the chatter and hysteria (actually, there really wasn’t any hysteria other than my own which was primarily internal) to die down. We should all have her sense of self.

  10. I appreciate and understand the love of a parent for a child but saddened by the story as a whole. I hope peace finds its way back to your home.

  11. Dear Julie,
    I have no clue how I have managed to come across your blog, but I can tell you, this blog has really touched me. Not only was your writing entertaining, but every word you wrote had meaning. I’m so happy to know such a strong person like you, and I am so happy for Harrison and Jessie that they have such a great mother who will only continue to be as perfect as perfect can be to her children. Instead of continuing on with my homework, I can tell you it has been time well spent reading this.
    P.S. Haters watch out, I know Julie Ross can kick some major ass (especially if her kids are on these lines) …another thing I admire about you.

    David

    • Thanks, David! And you are right — I can definitely kick some major ass. But would never kick yours…unless provoked! 😉

  12. I just read the article as well as your post and I’ve got to say, you are a great mom. I was so impressed. It is great to see such love, acceptance, and support. I hope that you and your beautiful girl will never have to deal with the haters.

    • I am going to do my level best to ensure that she doesn’t, but, should she encounter them I have all the confidence in the world that she will kick their ass. 🙂

  13. Julie, I’m a college friend of Adrienne’s. She invited me to learn about your story a few weeks ago and I have to say that I am truly blown away by every post you’ve written so far. Blown away by your tenacity, your strength, your Mama Bear instincts, your committment and your love for your family (ok, and you’re sense of humor – you are hilarious!). I think of you, Jessie and your family often and pray that you all find the peace and acceptance you deserve. I hope that you are pleasantly surprised by the lack of haters who are about to learn about your story. God bless. And continued Great Hair Days. (I’m having one myself today, if I may admit – haha!)

    • A friend of Adrienne’s did not give you an automatic in…but appreciating a good hair day gives you solid entry! 😉 Many thanks for the kind words and support!

  14. Thank you, thank you!

    My childhood friend actually showed up to my wedding as a man. I hadn’t seen him for years, but our families are extremely close, but no one had told me of this change. I was upset that I had invited him under his given birth name, I thought I must have hurt him deeply. As my Mother has grappled with this change and still insists on calling him by his given birth name, I embraced him fully. It doesn’t change what person they are, or the wonderful memories you have with them. I figure, it must have been torture to have struggled with it for so many years, and to not have recognized it sooner or even felt like there was a support system to tell. So, I congratulate the brevity of your daughter.

    • I, too, congratulate my daughter. I can only imagine what your friend had to endure before getting to a place of peace. In your mother’s defense, I think that her generation has a harder time than ours with this stuff. What is truly amazing is the generation of kids now — they have been nearly completely unfazed by it all. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Wow Julie! I am so blown away by your story and the approach that you have decided to take. I cannot stop thinking about you and Jessie since I found out yesterday. I admire you for facing your family’s challenge head on. You are a rock!
    Ask the haters what they would do if it happened to them? ‘Cause you know what? This can happen to any of us.
    XXOO

    • You bet it could. And, further, there are many worse things that we could be living through. thanks for the note, Caroline!

  16. Jessie is a very lucky kid,in so many ways.With a great family around her,she will avoid going through the inner turmoil that so many of us TG minded girls go through starting as a child and only ending when we finally choose to come out to our world. And the timing couldn’t be better.Acceptance is finally here in that more people are realizing that “normal” is a setting on a washing machine,and doesn’t describe human behavior.I will be following your blog for a good long time. All the best, Rogina

    • Thanks so much…I love hearing from adults who have been where Jessie is now. And I love the washing machine analogy!

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