|Photo credit: Pixabay.com|
Tomorrow, Gutsy and I are going out to buy her an Easter outfit.
But not just any outfit, my friends: something pretty, something frilly, something blingy and befitting the Maven's only daughter. This is the first holiday where Gutsy gets to dress up her outside to match the person she is inside.
Because we have such a supportive family, my darling little trans*girl can go to dinner wearing exactly what she wants. She will be greeted with her new name, and people will be doing their best to use her chosen pronouns: her and she.
You know, I go to Easter dinner every year and wear the clothes I want and get called her and she and sometimes stop being such a bitch, and I never give it a second thought. My gender identity - and the way other people see me - is something I've always taken for granted until very recently.
Once, a couple of years ago, someone I hadn't seen in a while ran up, placed her hands on my stomach and asked me if I was pregnant. I wasn't, and spent the next few hours crying into a bowl of chips (pro tip: does not help the situation). I felt so bad that someone had looked at my appearance and drawn conclusions that weren't true. It made me feel pretty horrible about my body.
I take how I felt and I multiply that by 1000, and I think maybe I might have a kind of but not really even remotely close idea of what it must feel like for someone who's outside doesn't at all match the inside.
And so I look at my eleven-year-old daughter, and I think she might just be the strongest and bravest person I've ever known; Strong for dealing with what she has for so long, and brave for taking the unimaginably challenging steps to become who she really is.
Incidentally, do you know how hard it is to be in awe of someone you're supposed to be the boss of? I basically worship the kid and yet I also have to yell at her for not bringing her dishes to the kitchen. "You're super amazing and I can't help but shout it from the rooftops, but clean your damn room before I set fire to it with a blowtorch." That's the balance I have to strike, people. It's not easy.
In fact, there are a lot of things that aren't easy. I keep looking for the manual she was born with. I think it was called So Your Baby is Transgender: Easy Answers to Every Issue You Never Thought You'd Have to Deal With. I can't find the damn thing anywhere. It might have shot out of my uterus during a contraction and slid behind a hospital chair or something.
So now I'm flying blind, which is most unfortunate. I'm not sure what to say when Gutsy tells me she's worried about dressing too feminine at school and instead goes for the gender-neutral clothing. Question number 22 in the manual, no doubt.
I don't know how to handle sleepovers with male friends she used to have sleepovers with before she came out as female. What do you do there? Is it status quo, or is it a no-no now? Do I bring it up with the parents I hardly know? Do they even know she's transgender? Do I open that can of worms and possibly make things worse? Those are likely answers #146-192 in said missing manual.
Oh! And what about when her friends are friendly at school, but don't seem to hang out with her after school nearly as much in the last week or two, and she says it's probably nothing but you lie awake worrying if people are keeping their distance because of who she is? That's super fun.
And what about the neighbours who know you have "three boys" and are going to start questioning where the second boy went and where that girl who kind of looks like him came from? They'll have to be told, but if those conversations go sour it's going to be a very interesting street to live on.
I'm pretty sure a bunch of those questions are addressed under the large chapter called "CALM YOUR TITS, MAVEN." Because really, that's what I need to be doing: calming my tits. I keep creating scenarios in my head that don't exist, when we already have enough actual scenarios to deal with. A writer's brain can be its own magnificent level of hell.
When I get overwhelmed like that, I try to take stock of the facts. Here's what I know for sure:
Not very long ago, we had a sad little boy who hard a hard time leaving his room and was medicated for anxiety, OCD and depression. He couldn't handle crowds, couldn't eat out of bowls that weren't white, couldn't stand the thought of germs. He flew into rages and would inevitably turn to me in tears, asking what was wrong with him. I spent many nights worrying about his future.
Today, we have a happy, chatty, smiling girl who is frequently out of her room and happy to be around other people. She's going off her medication to test the waters without it (and I believe she'll be successful.) She eats out of any bowl she likes, doesn't have panic attacks, and confidently assures me that I need not worry: she can and will find solutions to her problems - and if she can't, she will ask me for help.
She is resilient and insightful beyond her years. She's already proven that. So I need to let go a little bit. I need to trust her and learn from her. For the most part, Gutsy does not let her fear guide her. Why should I let mine?
Living in the moment is a tricky thing at the best of times. I know this won't be an easy road for her, but I also know that it's easier today than it would have been even five or ten years ago. I know that we have the best support system any kid could ask for, but especially one with additional hurdles to jump. And I know that, if I can just stop worrying about the hurdles that don't exist, I'll have more energy to help her with the ones that do.
What I know is that maybe I don't need the manual that possibly torpedoed out of my birth canal over a decade ago. I need to take a page out of hers, instead, and live bravely.
Off to calm my tits with some chocolate, which I hear is very tit calming.