It all started when we were in the lengthy final edit process for Be Who You Are, my first children’s book to be published this fall, and I started looking at the word “transgender” under a microscope. Backward. Forward. Sideways. These days I have been referring to my child’s gender identity as gender non-conforming or gender variant more than trans. Why?
It could be the natural result of time. It could be that we have some new friends in our lives who have sprinkled a new, more generous way of thinking across my brain. Less rigid and more accepting of other alternative paths. Paths that might not be mine or my daughter’s, but still worthy of respect and understanding. I credit these new friends with expanding my awareness into areas that I wasn’t ready to venture into before. Like removing blinders, I gained peripheral vision.
Perhaps I’m using the term “gender non-conforming” to free my child from labels that she didn’t choose. She’s so young that she just knows who she is and doesn’t bother herself with defining what she or other people are called. (How refreshing, right?) When people hear the word “transgender” their mind defaults to sexuality, sex reassignment surgery, adult transexuals, cross dressers, etc. In my experience they don’t normally consider a child who identifies and presents as something other than their birth gender.
I wonder… is it my right to label my child as transgender when she may feel gender queer, gender fluid or some new term we don’t know yet as she gets older? Does my use of ”transgender” limit my child’s full potential? Does it impede her self awareness and internal growth?
When Hope first starting presenting as a girl full time I think I needed to wrap my head around what “transgender” meant. Get up close and personal with the reality of the changes that were happening before my eyes. Maybe I needed some constant, some label to rest my head on like a pillow at the end of the long day? If I can be honest with my heart, maybe I needed an answer, a solution. What I realize most as the days turn into months and now years is that there aren’t any answers. Moreover, there isn’t even a need for a solution because we don’t have a problem.
The reality is that my child does not present as a boy at this moment, but as a girl. That is the snapshot of our lives today and I fully embrace it. I won’t ever have answers for what tomorrow brings and as long as we are true to ourselves there isn’t a need to question. My child may feel differently about her gender identity as time passes. She might not. She might feel comfortable with a label. She might not. Only time tells the remainder of the story.
Tonight I rest my head, comforted by the fact that I no longer require a constant. Awareness blankets and warms me like certainty never did.