It was a fairly unremarkable play-date, all things considered. Three kids (and two younger siblings) with only one confirmed commonality: they have all identified as transgender. (The other commonality is that their moms – Maura and Kristy and I, are in the same lifesaving support group for, you guessed it, parents of transgender kids.) The kids are ages 8, 10, and 12: the youngest is FTM (female to male) and the older two, MTF (um, yeah, male to female, duh) and it was far more normal than you (or I, for that matter) might expect.
Forced to revamp our original playground plans due to torrential rain, the moms made a last-minute decision to move the group to my house. I quickly rushed around in an attempt to conceal the crap that has systematically taken over the house in the weeks since school got out and readied for the change of venue. Suddenly our plan to have the kids running around and finding their way with one another amid play structures, swings and monkey bars shifted and I had to consider what they would do once they arrived at my house since the most appealing recreational items are our zipline and hammock, both of which were soaked from the rain. So, upon everyone’s arrival, I opted to maintain as much normalcy as possible by shooing the kids away so the moms could chat. I have no idea what they were doing or where in the house they were, but it was all good. (Read: no tears, no complaints, no whining and no blood. My metrics are pretty simple.)
A sudden clearing in the sky prompted the adults to (not so) gently suggest that the kids take advantage of the break in the weather and go explore the backyard. This gave the moms (who are perpetually grappling with some degree of need to be in the company of others who are in their situation) a chance to unload. The girls and boy all descended happily out-of-doors just long enough to get sweaty and require hydration. Just like any other play-date, any other day.
At the heart of it, though, it was anything but normal. While each child is adorable, sweet and remarkably comfortable in their preferred gender, the mere fact that they were in the same room, at the same time, engaging in the same activities was based solely on their shared transgender identity. That is not a bad thing. It is an amazing thing, actually, and one for which I know I am grateful.
Once lunch time rolled around we decided to venture out and, after some back and forth (McDonald’s? Bertucci’s? Too bad the Friendly’s are all gone!) we agreed upon Five Guys. Since the restaurant (and I use that term loosely) was in the direction of home for our guests, we opted to take separate cars and Jessie only wanted to go in the car with the other girl and her brother which, in my book, was sign of a connection. Once there, as we were carrying our 50,000 calorie, grease laden (yet crazily delicious) bags back to the table to make pigs of ourselves I noticed a boy with a familiar face happily having lunch with his father. It took me a moment to realize who it was but suddenly it came to me: it was another transgender child whose mother is also a part of the support group at which the play-date moms and I had met. How bizarre is that?!!? And how interesting that on this random Friday afternoon at a local burger joint there were not one, not two, but three* (that we know of) transgender kids enthusiastically chowing down and not one single person in the place was any the wiser. Now that is a play-date experience that I am going to venture to say you have never had.
All around it was a success but I do wonder how the whole afternoon felt for the kids. I have to wonder, because when I have asked Jessie (repeatedly) how she enjoyed the date, she has given me one word answers. Some of those words were: “great”, “fun”, and “cool”…but she will not say anything further. I sense that she was simultaneously thrilled and wigged out to be in the company of kids “just like her”, but more so the former. I hope. And now, twenty-four hours later, she is no more forthcoming than she was yesterday. That said, the two girls did part ways with promises to be in touch and with an embrace that was only slightly awkward. But perhaps it was only as awkward as any two girls of this age…
*The FTM child and his mom had to head toward home when we went to lunch. Had they been there with us, that would have been four transgender kids and still, not a person in the place who had a clue!