Hello again! I am enjoying a quiet afternoon while the husband and the darlings are off at GAA training. Continuing on from the previous post, I’m answering some more questions that are we are often asked about Blondie’s gender fluidity. Just to say, if you, lovely reader, have any questions, please just ask! Sometimes we shy away from these things for fear of offending the people involved, but I promise to try and answer any question you have as best as I can. I firmly believe the more awareness people have about transchildren and gender non-conformity, the better! Anyway, here goes:
Does everyone know that your kid is gender fluid?
The short answer is only family, some friends and the school/GAA club. Now, the long answer. Back when Blondie started wearing dresses full time, her hair was very short-she was very obviously a boy in girl’s clothing. No disclosing necessary. When she started primary school, her hair had grown to shoulder length and she could pass as a girl. I thought it would be a good idea to explain it to the other parents in casual conversation, just in case it Blondie ever brought it up in class and their children came home with new information. At that point I was her advocate and I made that decision on her behalf. The class has grown over the years, and so has Blondie’s wish that people just know her as a girl, like all the other girls in her class. So now, some children in the class know(the ones whose parents talked to them about it back in Jr Infants), and the newer kids don’t. It’s not ideal as we don’t know exactly who knows what but it was a good learning curve for us.
In telling others, I wanted Blondie to know that we weren’t trying to keep it a secret, that we were proud of her and what she was doing. But once we realised that she’d prefer to keep this private, we stopped telling people unless it was necessary that they know. For example, the summer swim camp leader or the mum who was having her for a playdate. It is important that if another adult is caring for her, not only are they aware of Blondie’s situation, but they are on board and on the ball in terms of making sure she is safe and secure.
Once or twice she has popped out with “Once I was a boy, then I decided to be a girl!” on playdates or with extended family, so we know that she will find the words when the time is right.
Are you worried that your child will be bullied in school?
Definitely. But I’m also worried that my gender conforming son will face bullying in school because he wears glasses. From being a kid themselves once, most adults know that children can be teased about practically anything; their hair, their name, their family structure, their voice, or any variation that might set them apart from the others. It’s cruel, and yet it’s an inherent part of life. Yes, Blondie’s circumstances are certainly unusual, but whenever my mind spins a web of the many terrying scenarios that she could face in the future (and indeed, trans kids have faced in the past), I have to bring myself back to the present. What do we, as parents, want to teach our children? That when making decisions about how you live your life, your own sense of identity is paramount or that the opinions and actions of bullies should take precedence? The truth is, bullying can happen to any kid, transgender or not. I’m hoping that with her strong sense of identity, Blondie has a good chance of standing her ground and shouting for backup if necessary.
We are also incredibly lucky that Blondie is in a school that not only embraces her, but actively works to ensure that her classroom environment is safe and supportive. We are in regular dialogue with the school about the various ways her fluidity influences her life. We will continue to stay closely involved until she finishes her education and becomes an engineer/inventor/explorer (working job title!). Everyone is still learning how to navigate this terrain, but we are all doing so with the best of intentions.
It’s still complicated. A lovely mum called up the other day, concerned about a conversation she heard between some boys in Blondie’s class. The newest boy wasn’t aware of Blondie’s gender non conformity and he was blown away by the other boys’ relevation that ‘she’ used to be a ‘he’. The listening mum, who has known Blondie for years, wanted to give me a heads up in case anything was said to her on the schoolyard. I waited at the school gates to hear of any confrontations, but nothing ever happened. The beautiful thing about young children is they tend to be very much in their own orbit-they can quickly lose interest in others!
How does your son feel about it all? Is he confused that his brother has become his sister?
My two are very much like any other pair of siblings. They love each other AND they kill each other. Last year, when our son was in preschool, I worried about what would happen when he joined Blondie in her primary school. He would often get the pronouns mixed up and tell kids in his group about his brother who had become his sister. While we didn’t want to encourage him to keep it a secret, we also didn’t want Blondie “outed” to the unknowing kids in her school. We also worried that he himself would find it too confusing and potentially upsetting. As the months went by, we gently corrected him each time he said “brother” and “he”, and by the time September came around he had transitioned fully over to the female pronouns.
He adores his big sister and looks up to her in a big way. Being five, he is naturally obsessed with reproductive parts (penis and vagina jokes for everybody!), and he occasionally wonders why Blondie doesn’t have the corresponding female anatomy. At the moment, it is sufficient to say that her heart and her mind knows she is a girl, so she is a girl. He accepts that and moves on. As he grows, the questions may not be so easy and he might not accept our responses quite so readily. Right now, they are very close and I’m hoping their relationship will withstand any confusion and upset that may arise in the future.
Will she get the hormones and surgery when she’s an adult?
Honestly, we haven’t a clue. Some transpeople never engage in hormone therapy; some do, but don’t have surgery. Some do both hormones and surgery. There are so many variations and possibilites. We want to keep all options open to her, but we also want her to really consider each step very carefully. This is why we want her to be on all relevant waiting lists now rather than later. Time and space are key. For now, I am trying my best to keep one eye on the present and one in the future. There are two goals; to keep her happy now, and to ensure that we’ve dealt with the stumbling blocks before she reaches that stretch of path.
That’s it for now. If I think of any other FAQ’s, I’ll certainly pop them up 🙂