Monday, February 21, 2011

The Talk

I am certain I have said this before, but it's late (1:03am to be exact) and I don't feel like going back to check. It's 2011 which for most people would mean just another year of some changes, but mostly 'same shit, different day' feelings. I almost want to say that the same could be said for me and my family, but we've had a lot of changes. We added a baby to the family, Trinity joined the 7-8 year old soccer team and she wanted the correct terminology for what society would call her and people like her.

Uh oh. It was time for The Talk and I can tell you, it was not anything I was ready for. I would have been fine with discussing sex, where babies came from and how; anything! But not that, not yet, however, there I was faced with the innocent, questioning eyes of a 7 year old who was growing more and more aware of her body each day and she wanted me, her mother, to give her the full truth. Could I do it or did I sugar coat it and use young child talk? The deep seated wisdom that I saw in her face told me that doing so would only insult her intelligence and cause bigger problems for her. No, I needed to sit her down and give her the truth. Give her the good and the bad, the pros and the cons, but most of all, give her how not only society feels about her, but how those closest to her sometimes feels about her as well. That's right, I was about to rock the very world my child stood upon and could only hope she came out of it standing with a little bit of dirt covering her.

I first started with pictures. The ones that she told me to get rid of. I kept some, I won't lie, I just hid them. I showed her these pictures, from infancy up to age 3 and said to her that she was born my son. She was born with a penis like her two little brothers. She had a different name, a name she still legally carried, a name that she ultimately thought was her middle name. She learned that her first name was in fact her middle name but to us, her brother, dad and I, it was her true name and identity. I went as far to tell her that it was not common place, but there were children and adults just like her out there in the world. I explained that despite having the body of a boy, she had the heart and mind of a girl and that was what matter most. What was between the legs did not determine gender, did not put any person into a small labeled box. It was how she felt, what made her secure, happy, and strong. And that was something that could only come in from inside.

She argued, not wanting to believe me, believe the words I was saying. Somehow, I didn't want to either, but in this world, we do not always get what we want. She asked me if there was a word for what she was and I corrected her. She was no what, she was a who. What would signify her as a thing and my children are never things, no matter what others might think or say. Quietly she sat, perhaps I was stalling a bit, considering I had fought long and hard to keep her from hearing that word, that label that I didn't feel she was. 'You are transgendered, Trinity.", the words sat like bitter dirt in my mouth. Of course she is right? She's my daughter more, but I knew she had to hear that word, to absorb it so that if it was ever flung her way, it would not shock her to the core. We watched a movie together, a documentary of a young woman who was just like Trinity, but was murdered by the hatred of fear and intolerance. It was a hard pill to swallow, but nothing compared me for the next question.

She asked me if someone might kill her for being transgendered. My heart grew heavy with the very thought of some hateful person taking my child's life but again, the truth had to come. I had to tell her that it could happen, but the chances might be slim by the time she's an adult. By that time, it could be much more accepted than it is today. I told her thinking about it was unnecessary because she was alive now and had people that loved her. She nodded, whispering the word 'transgender' over and over again, then went off to play in her room with Lucien. I was exhausted from the conversation, but was glad to have had it. Glad that she took it as well as she did. Her maturity of this matter amazes me each day and when her dad came home, she told him what she had learned. 'Daddy, I have the body of a boy, but the heart and mind of a girl. The world calls me transgender.' and she said it with pride and a smile. Her head was held high, her chest out. There was no shame in my daughter's proclamation. And as her mother and father, we too felt pride. Felt joy that she was accepting of her title.

My daughter, Trinity, she's my girl. She's my transgender girl. But more importantly, she's a new future for a world that is in need of strength, courage, and pride in the differences that make it successful.