The following is raw, brutally honest and from the heart. I suspect I will be criticized for my honesty, but that is a risk I am willing to take. I cannot continue this blog in any other way…it would be unfair to you, to me, and most importantly, to Jess. That said; feel free to comment, but try to be kind.
So. Jess’s birthday is on Wednesday. She is turning twelve. In many ways it is really her second birthday, as she made her transition literally overnight on December 11, 2011. That was the day my son became my daughter, the boxer shorts were replaced with bikinis, the t-shirts with camisoles and the buzz cut with a ‘do.
I wish I could wax poetic about the how the whole experience (thus far) has made me a better person, or a smarter person or even a more tolerant person, but as I sit here and delete three, yes, three, entries all reminiscing about the transition, I realize that, in many ways, I am not necessarily on much more solid ground than I was back when it all began.
In the two years since George left and Jess came on the scene, much has changed yet much has remained the same. George was always a challenge. So, too, is Jess. George was artistic. So, too, is Jess. George was unpredictable. So, too, is Jess. George was funny. So, too, is Jess. George was complicated. So, too, is Jess. George was always pushing the envelope. So, too, is Jess. George was “all boy” (even with all the dolls and dress up). So, too, in many ways, is Jess. George had short hair. Jess’s is long. And has blond tips. George had a pierced ear. Jess has both ears pierced with two holes each.
I have, through various means, been in the company of many transgender kids over the course of these past two years. They are, to a person, amazing folks. (I am talking to you Jonah, Cameron and Aiden). They are also entirely resolute, at peace and thriving. Jess, however, is still a work in progress.
I was told (by a psychiatrist who specializes in gender issues) that a full eighty percent of children who identify as transgender while prepubescent change their minds. I have always considered this statistic to be both a blessing and a curse. I grapple with the joys that I associate with both seeing this through for a lifetime and aborting as puberty kicks in. If I am being honest (which I always am), I sometimes do hope that it is a “phase” if for no other reason than the fact that I know it will be an easier life for my child if she proceeds on a more traditional trajectory. I am sure I am going to be criticized for admitting that. I am sure that I deserve to be. I am also sure that you would feel the same way if you were in my shoes.
To be clear, I am not saying that I do not support Jess in whatever she wants and needs to do or be. Nor am I saying that she will not have a happy and fulfilling life, no matter what course she takes. I guess what I am saying, on this, the beginning of the third year, is that I still am not sure where we are going to land. I am still not sure how Jess feels, deep down, about the whole thing. I fret as I watch her skin break out, her appetite soar and her voice deepen (just as Harrison’s did at her age) and the other changes that are not even around the corner, but within spitting distance. I honestly often see a boy in a girl’s outfit about to change in ways that are going to have a profound effect on her. On me. On everyone.
As this third year begins, I feel less confident in my ability to manage this. I feel more anxious about walking alongside my child, hoping for nothing other than her contentment. I feel an utter lack of control. But, and this is important, I also feel tremendous pride in her brute fortitude as a tween navigating the world. She is, without competition, the most stalwart person I know. I am one hundred percent certain that she is going to land on her feet and, it is safe to assume, will be the one walking alongside me.