Five Guys, Two Girls and a Rainbow Connection

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!




18 thoughts on “Five Guys, Two Girls and a Rainbow Connection

  1. 🙂 The kids had a great time. And the car ride was like any other car ride with three kids in the back…whether they liked the songs on the radio, which singers they liked and about the names they chose for themselves..well, almost like any other car ride with a few kids, LOL!

  2. I think the fact that Jessie gave you one word answers was as ‘normal’ as you can get from a preteen. 🙂 I am glad you have a great support system close by.

  3. Can I make a couple of observations?

    First, I think you have something confused. These children don’t “identify as transgender”. They identify with the gender opposite their birth gender. For example, Jessie doesn’t identify as transgender; her identity is female. “Identifying as transgender” would mean that they identify not as the opposite gender, but as something in between. For clarity, I am a woman with a trans history, but that doesn’t mean I am transgender.

    And a comment on the last part of your post (about Jessie not being forthcoming about how things went). My observation is that kids are kids, and they won’t necessarily bond with each other just because of the shared trans experience between them; no more then, say being in the same class at school, or having another peculiar commonality. You might enjoy the company of parents that are going through this process, because it creates an opportunity for you to share, but it isn’t necessarily the same with kids.

    • I purposely use the expression “identifies as transgender” and here is why. Jessie is ten. The statistics regarding children who define themselves as transgender prior to the onset of puberty carry an extraordinarily high rate of “changing their minds” and I want her to know that, she should feel the need or desire, she will feel free and supported in doing so.

      I agree that kids bond with one another according to their own set of needs and desires, but it is still fairly unusual for a kid to experience the trans life and we (the moms) wanted our kids to have the opportunity to see that they are not alone. Truth be told, we parents have not a lot in common, either, other than our shared rollercoaster ride.

      Finally, these three kids are all going to be attending the same week long overnight camp specially for trans kids and each expressed a desire to meet others before that week.

      Make sense?

      Thanks for your observations…I (and other readers, I am sure) appreciate them.

      • Let me just say that the one sure way for someone who is “gender variant” to discover whether he or she identifies as the opposite of the “assigned gender at birth” or as “transgender” is to be involved with a transgender group. Jessie’s everyday life, especially during the school year, allows her to see how she fits in with the general population. Interacting with other transgender kids is quite different. She may well decide that she does not really fit in this group at some point -the point where she may realize that she truly does identify as a girl; not as transgender. I have belonged to a transgender group in the past, and although I still keep some “ties with the community”, I feel much more comfortable with “normal” (no insinuation that gender variance is abnormal) people. It was necessary for me to have joined that transgender group to come to that realization. There are plenty of them who have been happily transgender, cross dressing for the monthly meetings for years. As the saying goes, “not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

  4. Kudo’s to you mom! If you would have been any other way towards your new daughter, she may have tried suicide later in life. You saved your child. You have shown her the greatest love of all. No matter what happens, at least your child is alive! Thanks for posting…. are you also on Facebook?

  5. What a beautiful post. Thanks so much for this and the support you’re giving the kids. I can’t imagine how different life might have been if I’d had similar supportiveness early on.

  6. Really pleased to hear it went well. As for the silence and one work answers I think that’s kids in general. I remember everyday when I came home from school mum would say “What did no do at school” and I would reply “nothing” .

    It’s really great to see such a nice support network too, it must be a real help for you and the other mums.

    All the best (Looking forward to your next post)


  7. I wonder if Jessie might have felt a bit odd at not being the only special kid there? (I mean special as in exceptional)
    It must be a new experience to meet kids who are trans as well. She would have known that there are but meeting other trans kids IRL would still feel a bit odd. She might have been so quiet because she’s still processing. The trans kids camp might give you a better insight on what was going on. Or whatever it was will be old hat by then!

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