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:
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 No longer can I even pretend to be in a cocoon of any sort and any insular protection I may have felt I had has been replaced by the big bad world.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.