Fact: I have been known to have a defensive side. I was the kid who always said, “It wasn’t my fault” and I have a propensity to stick to my guns; sometimes well after I know in my heart that I screwed up. There, I said it.
A few days ago, an article I wrote appeared in the parenting section of The Huffington Post in which I attempted to summarize the turn of events which brought me to where I am today: attempting to do right by my child who has identified as transgender. Given the controversial nature of the subject matter, it is not surprising that there have been hundreds of comments (largely positive, I might add) ranging from accolades for the support my husband and I have tried to demonstrate to legitimate (and fair) concern over where my child will land to decisions among strangers that I am a mother who wanted a little girl. One would think that the (marginal) vitriol would have me responding (read: defending myself) ferociously from my keyboard but, and this surprises me, I feel no need to.
My lack of need is due, in part, to the incredible online community (who knew?) that has come to my rescue. Given the fact that many of the responders are themselves transgender, the validity of their statements far outweighs anything I could ever say. Their states of transition vary from “long ago” to “in the midst”. They each have a different story and have travelled a different road, but to a person they have confirmed that the feelings that my child has shared with me are precisely those that they experienced themselves. Their unanimous agreement and comprehension of Jessie’s feelings are far more powerful than anything I could ever even attempt to convey.
That said, when I read the first comment (I believe there were three) which did not suggest, rather declared that this was a mommy-driven issue (one person accused me of acquiescing to a demanding child) it did feel like a quick blow to the esophagus and, truthfully, my initial reaction was to blast out a response which may not have been kindly worded. That feeling lasted for about a nanosecond (defensiveness is so ingrained that I sometimes have gut reactions) before I smiled to myself armed with the knowledge that it was neither my encouragement (nor, for that matter, discouragement) that brought Jessie to her announcement. In fact, the suggestion is so insane that I haven’t wasted time obsessing over it (which is something I have been known to do every so often: obsess). I am so comfortable with the way in which this all happened that it actually surprises even me.
I will say, for the gazillionth time, that I take nothing for granted. This may be Jessie’s permanent path. She may change her mind next week, next month or years down the road. She knows that whatever she decides, we’ve got her back. At the risk of sounding, um, defensive, let me note that she does not have carte blanche to do whatever she pleases, but it is her life to live and I have enough respect for her, even at age 10, to honor what she feels she needs for now. Do I think it is going to be easy? Hell no, but for our family, the potential benefits trump the risks.
This is a lifelong adventure (yep, still hate the word journey) which we are taking not just a day at a time, but sometimes an hour at a time. I do not profess to be an expert, know where we will land or how the story will play out. I do, however, know that we are doing the right thing for our kid. And to those who declared that I wanted a girl, all I can say is…seriously?