Several weeks ago, on the heels of what could only be described as an epic breakdown of emotional cohesion (Jessie’s), I calmly (and I believed kindly) reminded her that any decision she made surrounding her gender identity was fine by me.  I care not whether she is a boy, a girl or a Martian.  I care only that she (or he or it) is comfortable in her (or his or its) own skin.  I thought I was being a loving and supportive mom.  Well, yesterday I learned otherwise.

During our monthly visit to the GeMS (Gender Management Services) Clinic, I had a private and not all together easy conversation with the psychiatrist with whom we have been working.  Already privy to the exchange I just referred to, he pointed out to me that my words, despite being nothing but well-intentioned, were actually kinda, sorta, in a way well, bad.  Aw, crap.

In telling Jessie that she can “make any decision” she wants I was not, as I set out to do, freeing her.  No, by suggesting to her that it is a “decision” to be consciously made I was, in actuality, putting undo pressure on her.

This is not a decision.  This is an “is”. 

Had I said, “You can be a boy, a girl or a Martian” I would not be writing now, rather I would be polishing my mother of the year award.  But, alas, instead, I am ruminating over the (now obvious) error in my words and trying not to feel shitty about it.

I’ve often written of the ambiguity and amorphous nature of gender non-conformity.  I have not, however, always been able to appreciate how it feels from Jessie’s point of view.  I have tried to, but as someone who has never grappled, even briefly, with either my gender or sexual identity, I admit that putting myself in her shoes has not come naturally.  I have struggled, actually, with imaging having my girl parts yet living my life as a man.  I admit: I cannot imagine it…for me.  My identity as a girl has never occurred to me, actually…and I say that as a person who is more psychologically aware than the average bear.  This is intense stuff, more powerful than you, me or any “decision”.

When your child, or anyone that you love with every fiber of your being is struggling, the inclination is to try to fix things, make things right or, if we are being honest: make things go away.  It is truly brutal when you can do none of those things which is, unfortunately, the situation in which I find myself now.  It is not a decision for Jessie (and certainly not for me) as to how she proceeds on her life’s path.  She cannot lie in bed, stare at the ceiling for a few hours in thought and emerge with clarity.  It just ain’t gonna happen.

This is not a decision.  It is an “is”.

In some instances, an “is” is preferable to a decision (said the indecisive one).  In this case, it is neither good nor bad (most days).  It just is.  The true challenge is to find peace with the whatever “is” we have resting on our shoulders and from here forward, I will do my damnedest to encourage Jessie to be who she is – be it a boy, a girl or a Martian.

This is not a decision.  It is an “is”.


8 thoughts on “B.S.U.R.

  1. Julie, you continue to enlighten your readers (me!) as you courageously travel this journey. Who would have thought there would anything wrong at all with what you said to support Jessie a few weeks back–it sounded perfectly reasonable and reassuring to me Yet, you’re sharing the lesson with us, and yes, it makes all the sense in the world after you explain it, that your words may have caused more pressure because there is no decision for Jessie… it is just an “is.” You think you get it completely and then your level of understanding gets a bit deeper and your awareness much sharper. Jessie is lucky! She has you…you, who is so willing to and so anxious to embrace whoever she/he is.

  2. Or….This is not WHAT we are, but WHO we are. As I’ve said before, my mantra is “To be a woman is not a choice (decision); to be a lady is.” It takes most everyone a lifetime to really learn who we are. Decisions we make at any given time in our lives are based on who we think we are at that time. The important thing is that we at least have some sense of self so that we can make those decisions, because being totally confused as to who we are can lead to indecision (which is really a decision to do nothing). In effect, I feel that I am not much further along in knowing who I am than is Jessie, but I had that half-century of indecision with which I stymied myself. Julie, don’t beat yourself up over what is really mostly a semantic error. Deep down, I’m sure that Jessie knows the real intent of your words. You are laying down a foundation that will allow her to make those necessary decisions in the future.

    Now, what shoes should I wear this afternoon………….?………my important decision for the day. 😉

  3. Well I would still have thought your words were kind. I hope Jessie understood what you meant. And although she can’t control who she IS, there will always be decisions she WILL need to make, so I think your message was still a good one.

  4. As a lifelong TG,my thoughts echo Constance. Some of us suppressed so much for so many years,because there was not the support and understanding that Jessie has now.Her timing couldn’t be better.Keep up the great job you are doing with trying to understand us.

  5. I am behind on my reading your blogs so working from the oldest to the newest…

    I think you have touched on the crux of the problem — it’s not a decision for me to want to be a woman. It is what it is and I had no choice. Because of when I was born (I am now 68), there were not the options or freedom to pursue options which the younger crowd now has. I just knew I was different but didn’t really know why or what I could do about it. Perhaps, once I was out in the world and ran across some of the information I did, I could have done something but it was not until I got on the internet that I finally realized and accepted that I am transgendered.

    But I think you also touched on one other thing which makes a world of difference in our discussions on this matter. Most people are comfortable in their own skin and they cannot imagine being a part of the other sex. For them, what they feel is the normal and they just cannot conceive that somebody would feel differently. If we could just move people out of their bubble, it would be easier for all of us to help the children and young adults adapt to a situation they had no choice in.

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