Here’s a Link to My Blog…

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Last year, before meeting someone for the first time, I shared a link to this blog along with this note:

This will tell you a lot about me and your reaction will, in turn, tell me a lot about you…”

And then, I will admit, I held my breath. I might have even turned a little blue (all interpretations intended) awaiting a response. As it happened, the response (which, thankfully, came just twenty minutes later) was intensely benign, little more than a shrug of the shoulders. Here I was, freaking out about sharing the story with yet another unsuspecting soul and the reaction was so matter-of-fact as to be almost disconcerting. It was, however, genuine and, with the notable exception of my hair color (okay, and my nose) I am – and likewise appreciate others who are – nothing if not genuine.

Why did I share such a personal disclosure so early in the game? That’s easy: I wanted it out in the open and not hanging over me, knowing that it would, in all likelihood, need to be shared eventually; and, I suppose, I subscribed to a “the earlier the better” plan. Perhaps I jumped the gun, but that, to me, was preferential to waiting too long. It felt dishonest to withhold something which I consider a large part of who I am, all in the name of not making someone else uncomfortable. And, further, not only did I did not want to enter into any kind of relationship in a way that felt disingenuous, I also wanted to know, frankly, that someone I was going to let into my life would have a similar acceptance of the reality of my life. For better or worse, I am all about full disclosure, honesty, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get. I know that I am the exception and that many (okay, most) people would have let it happen more organically, if at all. That is simply not who I am and I have to be true to myself1 and, more importantly, my kid.

Interestingly, I have yet to come across a single person who has reacted negatively (in my presence, anyway) to the “announcement.” In fact, more often than not I wind up learning about their kid’s this, that or the other thing; mostly because all kids have some degree of this, that or the other thing. Those same folks who are more buttoned up than I (I know, I know…that is most people) find comfort in knowing that they are not the only ones who have a “secret” that might not play well in Peoria. It actually gives me great joy that I have been blessed with many friendships which were sown from this very honest exchange.

Upon meeting anyone with whom I suspect I will be spending more than just one parcel of time with, I have to suppress the urge to hand them a link to my blog and/or tell them all about how totally normal Jess is, despite her unusual path. How she is complicated but also wildly talented, ridiculously funny, disarmingly creative and crazy smart. That she inherited my left-handedness and blue eyes and the streak of pink in her shoulder length hair is reminiscent of one I had back in the day. That she can draw and sew and metal-smith so skillfully that you would not believe her work is that of a 12-year-old2. How she made an art form of making a mess of her newly cleaned bedroom in fifteen seconds flat despite swearing up, down and sideways that she will keep it neat. How she and I listen to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” in the car most Saturdays and have a (mostly) friendly competition to see who can finish the sentences and guess which is the true story first.3 That she he tries to get away with swiping my makeup and hairbands and clips and brushes but always gets busted. And how, yes, her path is not going to be an easy one. But perhaps most importantly, she is truer to herself and has the courage of her convictions more than most people I know…myself included.

I have some new people in my life who do not yet know the story of Jess. I am, for the first time, really struggling with how, when and where to tell them. My trepidation is not for me, but for them being caught unaware. My disquietude is out of respect for the ripple effect it may, unfortunately, have on people I care about. I worry not about acceptance, but understanding. My anxiety is over my having waited too long and the potential sense of dishonesty that they may feel, although it was never intended. And, in true Julie form, I am likely (um, make that hopefully) pre-worrying about something that could (just maybe) go off without a hitch.

I grapple with keeping things as they are versus wearing my heart on my sleeve. I waver between making an “announcement” and not saying anything all all. And, I have considered taking a page my from my own playbook and simply forward a link to this post with the same message that served me well once before:

This will tell you a lot about me and your reaction will, in turn, tell me a lot about you…”

1My father always told my brothers and me to be true to ourselves and to have the courage of our convictions. I have passed that edict on to my children, but not always been able to live it myself. This one’s for you, dad.

2There has been jockeying for position on her friends and family pricing list since she was in Kindergarten. True.

3She is a formidable opponent. Sometimes it is embarrassing.

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12 thoughts on “Here’s a Link to My Blog…

  1. “My anxiety is over my having waited too long and the potential sense of dishonesty that they may feel, although it was never intended. And […] I am likely (um, make that hopefully) pre-worrying about something that could (just maybe) go off without a hitch.”

    You have so nicely described the process of “continual coming out” that I (and probably most LGBT folks) feel whenever in a new situation (new babysitting gig, new job, new acquaintances who are slowly becoming friends…). Well said.

  2. Bless you for being such an amazing mom. Your kids are very lucky to have you and the rest of us can only dream of having such a supportive parent.

  3. Wait, wait – Don’t tell me…….Your daughter used to be your son? Do I win Carl Castle’s greeting on my voice mail? Hmm, maybe Carla Castle’s would be better. 😉

    My thought on “coming out” – or “outing” ones gender status, either by oneself or by another, is that the most honest and straightforward thing to do is to consider the reality that the transgender person is living at the moment. If Jessie were to see herself as a boy who opts to express (him)herself as a girl, then there may be grounds for explanation up-front. If, however, Jessie sees herself as a girl with the wrong genital make-up, it’s best to keep it private (they are called privates, after all!). I’ve read all of your blog posts, and I would have to surmise that the latter is closer to the truth. I believe that your dilemma is more related to a fear of that blasted ambiguity than it is to honesty.

    Nevertheless, there are those circumstances which require full disclosure. I know that I would have wanted to know that my daughters’ sleepover guest had a penis before inviting her over. I don’t buy into that tired saying, “gender is between the ears and not between the legs”, even if I may understand it better than the average person might. As long as hormones are a part of the equation, especially during puberty, there is no way I would trust what’s “between the ears”.

    I say all of this as a transgender woman who was never allowed to live 50 years ago as Jessie does now. But, ya know, that was the first time in months that I’ve referred to myself as “transgender”. Finally accepting myself – being honest with myself – has reduced the ambiguity to near non-existence. Ironically, I may not have reached this point had I not found your blog, Your disclosure has had a positive effect for many people – indirectly, if not directly; transgender or not. Still, as her mother, I know that your main concern is how anything you do or say would affect Jess. On this point, I wonder how she feels about all of this “notoriety” now. Is it any different than it was when you started?

  4. I just discovered your blog and spent the past week catching up – wow, just fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your jour- um … adventure, it is really an inspiration for any parent and you should be proud to share it with anyone and everyone. There is great power available to anyone who can identify and express their authentic self, and I can see that you are teaching Jessie how to do that (and also learning yourself). Wherever Jessie lands, or if she ends up flying forever, I can tell these last couple of years will make a huge difference.

  5. I’m totally for letting it all out right from the get-go. Stuff like that is so much easier spilled right away than leaked later. Case in point, I remember telling my kids about where babies come from, daddies married to daddies, masturbation, and menstruation from the minute they began talking to me about why dogs can’t have kittens. The two daddies talk served me well when Ben, my oldest, got his classmate list and one set of parents had clearly female names. My kids had grown up knowing that there are lots of different kinds of families so I wasn’t worried about Ben, but I was worried about the response the other kindergarteners would have to the child with two mommies. Enchantingly, the overwhelming response on a very gut level was “Two mommies? Wow! Win-win!” What kindergartener wouldn’t want TWO mommies?! (Sorry dads!). Because I had already talked about all this, abortion too, there were no surprises though they did need more complete info as time went on. For example I told my 4 sons and daughter that mommies have a nest that, if not needed that month, is discarded and another nest is built for the next month in case a baby needs it. Betsy got more deets as she grew older! I didn’t want my daughter OR sons to be surprised on that day in fifth grade when they separate the boys and girls and have the talk. The body is such a neat thing anyway, why not go over that info while the kids are still too little for them (or me!) to be embarrassed? Well, I see I’ve rambled a bit, surprise, surprise! I think people would appreciate your openness and I really think it’s getting darned hard to shock people much nowadays anyway. Jess was so very lucky to be born when she was, and where she was and to whom she was. And you were very lucky that she was born who she was.

  6. Hi Julie, I am the mom of a transgender 21 year old son. “This will tell you a lot about me and your reaction will, in turn, tell me a lot about you…” I love this! It is so true!!! I am so glad that you have had positive experiences with your interactions with people upon finding out about Jessie. While my own experience has been less positive, it has definitely told me a lot about those people. I look forward to catching up on your posts.

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