Penis. (Yep, you read it right. I just titled a blog entry “Penis”)

How often do you utter the word penis?  What’s that? Never?  Yeah, well, that is about right for most average adults (urologists and Mohels aside).  For the first seventeen years of my parenting life, I am unsure I ever said it, actually.  Each of my children had one, but aside from the ceremonial Bris on each of their eighth days of life, along with the quickly learned skill of “pointing it down” in the diaper, I cannot say I gave them (the penises, that is) much thought.  I can say, however, that hardly a day goes by now that it doesn’t come up (if you will excuse the pun) in conversation.  Yes, in everyday conversation.

Perhaps it arises in a chat with a well-meaning acquaintance who thinks that along with Jessie’s transition eighteen months ago came a penisectomy.  (Truth: someone asked me if we had had it “removed”.  Um, no.)  It could be with a closer acquaintance inquiring as to what we are going to do about it.  (Wish I knew.) Or it could be the voices in my head fretting over bathing suits, ill-fitting shorts or, truthfully, erections.

Much to my mother’s horror, I have been known to refer to Jessie as “my daughter with a penis”.  Much to my horror I have had to phone the on-call pediatrician to inquire about an issue with said penis all while using the female pronoun.  (Of course the doc on call happened to be the one in our practice’s rotation whom I have never met.  I am sure she figured it out, but awkward…)

Harrison (who might just disown me after this blog post) entered and completed puberty without fanfare.  He got taller, his voice got deeper and he sprouted hair under his arms and on his legs (which, when it first erupts, is gross.  What?  It is.) and, voila, he was done.  In fact, it was completely unremarkable.  Not once did the need to use the word penis arise.  Everything that was supposed to happen happened.  End of story.  Not so with Jessie.  In fact, there has been discussion of all things pubertal: height, hair, Adam’s Apple, hormones, foot and hand size and, oh, yeah, her penis.  Lots and lots of talk about her penis.

A question to all you parents of boys: have you spent a fraction of the time I have thinking (in the least creepy way possible), worrying or talking about your child’s penis?  I am guessing you have not.  I will further surmise that you are grateful that you haven’t had to.  You might even be blushing at the fact that I have used the word “penis” ten times in these five paragraphs.  I can honestly report that a day does not go by without the word penis (that’s eleven) entering into the equation somehow.  It is part of the new normal.  It is not even strange to me anymore.  It is all part of the process…one which, thus far, has not included the word vagina.  Not once.

NOTE: As you know, I often include pictures with my posts, although sometimes I am unable to find anything appropriate.  Rest assured: for this one, I did not even look…

20 thoughts on “Penis. (Yep, you read it right. I just titled a blog entry “Penis”)

  1. Actually, it is a word I do use fairly often. Most often it is as I pass by the bathroom door when one of my two boys is taking care of business — “Hands ON the penis!” I do NOT understand where and when they got the idea that peeing was a hands-free activity.

  2. So great that you can laugh about it!!! Always makes anything easier if you can laugh about it. Your posts are always thought provoking and full of love for your children, and they will hopefully be able to laugh along with you.

  3. Didn’t your kids play the Penis game in temple? You say the P word starting in a whisper and getting increasingly and increasingly loud- until someone chickens out and loses the game. I was the proud mother sitting beside those wonderful children at Shabbat services.

  4. You continue to crack me up. Sadly, at the Nut House where I live, genitalia is often discussed just for shock value.
    And, our rabbi/good friend taught us the penis game, he has played it with my kids.
    And, I had a F to M client that shared his period stories with me, especially how pads and boxers are not a good fit.
    Carry on Penis Mom!

  5. PENIS. That’s an even dozen, unless you count “penisectomy”, which would make a baker’s dozen. But we’re not talkin’ donuts here. We transgender girls suffer from “penile denial”, realizing the attachment is there physically, while, at the same time, having no mental or emotional attachment to it. To us, it is just an “unnecessary accessory” and a urethral extension (which can be convenient at times), until, of course, that nasty testosterone gives it a mind of its own. I remember all too well when I was Jessie’s age, and, without any real understanding of who I was and what I was experiencing from the pubescent assault, I felt like I was being torn in two. Had I had the opportunity to have the testosterone production blocked at that time I would have been spared so much misery and depression. I’m guessing that it’s just about time that you and Jessie are ready to decide on blocking the “T”. If you decide to, the penis will still be there, but the worst of it will be averted. Then, all Jessie has to do is “hang in there” for the rest of it all. 😉

  6. My Dear Julie

    I have so many times been compelled to write to you or to comments on your incredible, supportive, strong, humorous, enlightening and real blog.

    I am Aiden Jay’s mom ( and want you to know that I thank you for all of the Trans moms out there. You are our voice, our sanity and our proof that a glass of wine, a good scream in the car or a cry in the shower will give us the strength we need to carry on. I also resort to the daily dark chocolate..

    I read every blog you post and so many, if not each one of them hits home in the day to day Trans mom process we both are going thru. Today’s post “Penis (Yep you read it right…) hit home so much that i decided tonight was the night to finally introduce myself.

    I feel for you and understand exactly what you are experiencing as it is our NORMAL – however in order to provide YOU with some comfort (which I know you need as much as we (all of your faithful followers) do, I want to share the flip side with you.

    As the mother of an FTM Transgender son, I can not tell you how many times I have picked up a pair of jeans off his floor or opened the dryer or a drawer to find a PENIS. Yes a PENIS. While I totally accept that this is a part of my sons anatomy and a necessary prosthetic for him (just like if he needed glasses) – it is still a shock to the system when you see it laying all by its lonesome on the floor or in a drawer or bouncing around the dryer. My son has several PENISES of various sizes, etc so when I do find a lone PENIS that does not mean that he is without one on his person.

    All I can say is that this too is part of the process and all we can do is take a deep breathe, smile, laugh and cherish (yes cherish) these crazy moments that are our life. I love my son and I am so proud of him for his strength in this journey and for what he does on a daily basis to educated, support and enlighten the LGBT community and I am grateful that I am along for the ride ~ and I pray everyday that the dog doesn’t get ahold of his PENIS….LOL !

    Thank you Julie – Love to Jessie

    PS – I used PENIS 6 times – definitely a record for me

    Lori (Proudly Aiden’s Mom)

    • My mother never goes a day without amazing me, I am lucky enough to of gone through this young enough that these issues became normal and I am now old enough to realize how lucky I am to have a mom who is able to cherish these moments and not make me feel uncomfortable about them. My only piece of advice, is something my mother has done from the start, know that sometimes you just have to get shit done. When she called doctors about my breasts or my periods sometimes she just had to say my daughter and call me Megan. She had to get it done. So even though its hard for me to hear, I accept it and I know your child will too if they understand!

  7. Like Amy and Constance said,these are serious issues now happening for Jessie.I know you are trying your best to understand it from her prospective,and that’s not an easy one.You know you need to keep her feeling up,and doing so requires medically getting her on course,as Constance said.Keep her satisfied,the payback will be huge.

  8. Did you ever watch the Showtime series Shameless? During this season they had new character, a little girl who had what she called a “Girl penis.” As in, “Oh, that? That’s just my girl penis! It looks just like a boy penis… but I’m a girl, so its different!” It turned out that her mom had raised her as a girl so she really didn’t know she was a boy… but still, your post kinda reminded me of that story!

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