How is Dad Doing?

Right after K asked to be called K, but before I had had my “ah-ha” moment of complete support, the kids and I went shopping at Janie and Jack for an outfit for K to wear to a wedding. The month before, K had mentioned to me that she didn’t want to shop in the “boy’s” sections anymore, so I wasn’t surprised that she refused to look at the suits this day. Our salesperson (James) was wonderful; he had no issues helping us pick out an awesome outfit centered around a dress even though he knew we were shopping for my at-the-time-son (I would later find out that he was thrilled to help us and has spoken to his manager at length about how much he loved the support we showed K).

When we were checking out, James asked me, “So how is dad doing with all of this?” At the time, I didn’t think much of it. Turns out, that may be the most common question that we have been asked. I find this question is interesting, sad, and mildly offensive all at once. I find it interesting because of all the questions that you may have about meeting a transgender child, your most pressing question is about my child’s dad? I don’t get it. I would call the question sad, because by asking the question, it implies that you have doubts about how fathers would handle having a transgender child. Why is there an assumption that fathers do not handle the situation well? Are they only asking the question because I have a transgender daughter and they believe that fathers would not be OK with their “son” feminizing? Would they ask the same question if I had a transgender son? I haven’t done much research on this, but I do wonder, how do fathers tend to respond? Is this an instance where there is a reason for the stereotype? Whether or not it is a valid assumption, I find it incredibly sad that people assume dad may have a problem with their child transitioning.

Finally I am left with my mild offense. My husband (K’s dad, Ben) is a complete rockstar with all of this. Seriously. I’m not sure that the man could be more supportive, in fact, I have found myself having to reign him in because sometimes I find him overwhelmingly supportive (already talking about legal name changes for example). When I talk to Ben about any of my misgivings, he seems surprised. He looks at K and sees a girl… all the time. He doesn’t have any doubts the same way that I do. He looks through old pictures of her as “A” and still sees the K that was always there under the surface. He has never tried to stifle K’s gender creativity, never been embarrassed to go out in public with his “son,” or had any issues correcting people who used to misgender her. He has been, and I imagine always will be, amazing. My mild offense is caused by this. Without even knowing us, it bothers me that anyone could possibly assume that Ben would be anything but supportive.

There have been times in this transition that I have had a hard time coming out to people, mainly family. Having known our families forever, we knew their political persuasion and we have heard their comments about transgender people throughout the years. Even though they had a grandson who wore dresses and had long hair, some how NONE of them saw that this could in fact be a possibility in our future. When we realized that we finally had to come out to them, I didn’t feel strong enough to do it. I was afraid of what family might say and how much that would hurt. Ben is my rock though and has always been right there next to me. There is no doubt in his voice when he speaks to people about K and it is obvious with him that there is no room for debate. He has been very clear with family: get on board, be supportive, or walk away. He is putting K’s needs and mental health first. Having a grandparent in K’s life that refuses to respect her will have a negative effect on her well-being and we have chosen not to tolerate it.

Just as he has stood beside me with family, he has been there at the Y, at swimming, gymnastics, you name it. Ben is taking an active role in K’s transition and he is incredibly proud to have a great kid like K. Neither one of us would trade her for anything. K has both of our full love and support to live her authentic life.

 

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Supposed to be a Girl

Yesterday, the girls were talking over dinner. Big sister A looked over at K and said, “Were you born a girl?” It was an interesting question, and one that I have never asked K.  I watched as K looked down at her food, “I was supposed to,” she said.

Thinking about those words, I can’t say that there is anything that I would say I was “supposed” to be. I have been blessed to live a life that I desired. There may be times when I say that I thought I would be doing something else (working instead of homeschooling for example) but I have never felt as though the life I am living is not the life that I was meant to live. To hear my four-year old say that she was not supposed to be the gender that she was “born” as, that we assigned her at birth, pulls at my heart. To feel like you are in the wrong body… I can’t even imagine.

I think of myself, a woman, waking up one morning, looking in the mirror and seeing a man staring back at me. Looking like a man in the mirror, while shocking, would not change that internally I still identify as a woman. I would be confused, scared. What was happening? Why didn’t my appearance fit how I identified myself? Thinking about going out in public and having people refer to me as a man, “sir”; using the pronouns “he” and “his” in their conversations about me. It would be distressing, to say the least. Why couldn’t the world see me for who I was? Why was there a disconnect? What was wrong with me that my body didn’t match my mind? I find it hard to imagine living like this for one day let alone year after year. I am so grateful that K has been able to start living authentically now. Even though her anatomical sex may not align with her gender identity yet, at least the way that she is viewed and addressed by society will. To her, that is huge.

For the next couple of posts, I wanted to address some of the common questions that we have received since coming out. If there is anything that you are confused by, or are interested in learning more about, feel free to comment here with questions and I will try to address them.

 

 

 

Stages of Grief

I’ve been trying to write this post all week but each time I sit down, I can’t figure out how to start. Part of me wants to avoid this post and move on, bury the feelings. However, each time I think that, I realize that in order for this blog to be authentic, I need to write it all… the good, the bad, and the depressed.

All in all, I feel really great about how we are handling our daughter’s transition. Honestly, switching the pronouns and name has been easy for us. I’ve mentioned to people that perhaps it’s been easy because we always knew. Or maybe my kiddos have just given me lots of practice with changing names during make-believe that it’s second nature now.

As good as so much of this transition has gone, I find myself feeling as though it has moved too fast. Technically, our transition has probably been occurring over about two years as K’s gender creativity blossomed both at home and in public. It’s hard for me to recognize that as being part of our transition though since clothing choice was never a big deal in my mind. For me, our transition started on April 4 and after only a month I had completely lost my son.

The stages of grief seems to be one of those overused psychological terms, and yet they apply so well. When talking about them though, I find most people believe that you simply move from one stage to the next, always making forward progress on your grief. In reality however, we all oscillate back and forth between the different stages. An example would be when a loved one dies, perhaps a parent. Even after you have reached the stage of acceptance, there are times when you think about them and perhaps the depression over your loss returns.

I find myself oscillating like that some days, Tuesday this week. I met with a friend on Tuesday morning and it was pretty much an hour of crying. I loved my son. I loved his gender creativity, I loved the way he got excited over things like Paw Patrol or Tic Tock Croc.  Perhaps it’s just over compensation on K’s part. Perhaps bits of her from before the transition will come back, but as it stands, she is trying to repress that that side of her ever existed. For instance, yesterday K said “I like Paw Patrol! … I mean, I don’t. I love Palace Pets!” The child obviously still likes Paw Patrol, but I imagine it reminds her of her life as A and she is desperately trying to make a new identity separate from A. It is almost as though she wants to be a whole different kid. Maybe she does, but she was happy as A, maybe not as happy, but she was a happy kid.

In giving up everything that A ever loved (pajamas, toys, games, etc) I feel not just like I lost a son, but that I lost a whole child. Everything just moved so fast. The books all talk about spending months, or even years socially transitioning. In one month we transitioned at home and EVERYWHERE ELSE. At one of our support groups I mentioned how I felt that things were just moving too fast and I couldn’t keep up. One of the moderators looked at me and said, “If you think it is moving fast, then you are probably doing something right.”

I’m trying to hang on to that. I am trying to stay grounded by reminding myself that it is moving fast because K feels safe and comfortable with her identity. This is a good thing. Why would I think differently? I’ve mentioned that we saw this as a possibility and I thought that I was prepared. I knew how to support her and I knew how important that support was. I read about transitioning with doctors, school, etc. I read about how to come out to grandparents and close friends. Academically, I was prepared. Emotionally, not so much. You see, what those books never explained to me was how to say goodbye.

My husband and I picked out A’s name on our second date. We talked about him in all of our fantasies regarding our future together. A was always part of our future, our little boy. It turns out, he was always a dream. She’s always been K, she just hadn’t figured out how to tell us. But I believed there was an A for four years. I believed that I had a son.

Another large part of my grief lies in my guilt. As good as I am at the pronoun switch, when I look at K, I still see my son. It doesn’t happen every time I look at her and it is more likely to happen when she is not wearing a fancy dress, but it does happen. Sometimes it feels like I am playing a game with her. I think that’s my denial/uncertainty. Part of me still thinks that K may be a desister; it may turn out in a few months or a year that she wants to go back to being A, my son. When I actually think about that though, do I believe it? Not a bit. This kid is K through and through. She never reacted at all when she was identifying as male but was called by daughter. Now, she won’t say anything verbally, but her face shows disgust if someone uses the wrong name and/or gender with her. Not to mention, looking back through the years, she’s always been a girl and we were just missing the cues (refusing to be a male character in make-believe for example.)

I’m a statistician, we operate with the 95% certainty idea, and 95% of me is certain. In a statistical study, I would be confident in my results. Real life doesn’t operate like that though, and my 5% doubt sometimes likes to run my emotions ragged. I love my little girl and I wouldn’t change anything about her. As much as I wish things would have slowed down a bit for me, I am so very happy that K was comfortable enough to live her authentic life quickly, without being scared. She is lucky. I still seem to need a bit of time to adjust sometimes, but it will come. I think that I just need to find a way to say goodbye to my son.

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

I’m a pretty laid back person (and wife) which makes days like today just like any other. My husband worked which meant we had homeschool (work days for him are school days for us), I still made dinner and there were no special cards or fancy gifts. The kids have a harder time than my husband following my wishes for a normal day and so they made me coupons that said they would stop whining on command, if only I would give them a coupon. It’s an adorable thought, and I love that it comes from their heart and not their wallets. If pieces of paper manage to stop whining on command, I’ll let you know, but I’m not holding my breath.

I did receive the most wonderful mother’s day present from a friend today though, a since it’s posted here, we know it revolves around K. Today, my friend Alex for me today came over to our house and cut K’s hair to look just like her American Girl doll! Thinking about that, I don’t believe I ever mentioned the doll before. K received her doll two weeks before her birthday as a surprise present since my husband was going to be gone over her actual birthday. As soon as we bought the doll, K took her out of the box, opened the dolls arms, and brought her in for a huge hug. It was adorable and K was on cloud 9. She has been in love with the doll ever since; K didn’t just want to play with her American Girl doll, she wanted to be her American girl doll.

Thankfully, we had already been growing K’s hair out long before the transition so we just had a little ways to go before it was long enough to style it like the doll’s. When she saw herself in the mirror for the first time, a huge smile came across her face and she did a little pose. When asked if she liked it and if it is what she wanted, she just smiled and nodded emphatically… it seems that words escaped her. I imagine that it was like seeing your identity come together; when she looks in the mirror, her reflection aligns with the picture that she has of herself in her mind. I am so happy for her.

Whenever I try to talk to K about a time before the transition, she either shuts down or veers off subject; this is not something that she wants to talk about. Perhaps one day she will feel secure enough to tell me what she remembers. I wonder how long she had been looking in the mirror feeling like she didn’t align with her reflection. I can’t even imagine how painful that would be, not just for my kid, but for all transgender people. Imagine feeling like a woman but seeing a man every time you look at yourself. Imagine the disconnect, the pain, the depression. You wouldn’t just feel that once a day, but every time you see your reflection in a mirror, in a window, or even in water… a constant reminder that you are in the wrong body. There is absolutely no way I would wish that on my child, no way that I would closet her because it would be easier for me.

This may have just been a haircut, but to my daughter, it was an alignment to her authentic self, her true identity. To her, it was one more heavy weight lifted off of her shoulders. Thank you Alex for giving me the best mother’s day present that I could have asked for: an amazing smile from a happier, more confident little girl.

Why didn’t you know, mommy?

Today we were playing around and K came across a paper crown she received at the Y in March. Since we went the day after her birthday, they made her a crown with the number 4 and “A” written on it. She didn’t tell me that she was K until about a week after this.

When we found the crown today, K asked me if we could erase “A” because it should say “K.” Since it was written in permanent marker, I could not. “No honey,” I said. “This is written in permanent marker, I can’t erase it. I’m sorry that it doesn’t say “K” but when we went there, I didn’t know that you were “K” yet.”

K just looked at me with her big sad eyes, “Why didn’t you know, mommy?” She was so sad. As her mother, shouldn’t I have seen her for who she was? How did I, of all people, not understand that she was a girl? I felt horrible but I think I responded pretty well. “I made a mistake honey. I took a guess and I was wrong. Usually when a baby is born with a penis, they end up being a boy. They aren’t always boys, but they usually are. When I saw that you had a penis, I guessed that you were probably a boy so I called you one. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I know now though, thank you for telling me.”

She just looked at me and nodded; my answer was acceptable to her. More importantly to me though, it was honest. In my experience, kids respond well when adults are willing to accept blame. When a child is born male, it is very unlikely that that child will be transgender. Do I think that we should do away with the generalizations and use gender neutral pronouns with children until they decide? No, that seems too far to me. However, I do believe that in raising children, we should keep an open mind and most importantly we should listen to them. When our children become sad when you try to put them in a suit rather than a dress, they are trying to tell us something. When children wince every time you call them a specific gender, they are trying to tell us something. Young children may not have the verbal abilities to express certain things to us, but if we are willing to listen to what they are able to tell us, we can learn a lot.

Is it right to keep a secret?

Today was our first new playdate since we socially transitioned and I found myself uncertain how to handle my new role as a parent with a transgender daughter. I introduced K, my daughter, to our new “friends,” and naturally absolutely no one assumed that she was hiding a male appendage under her dress. However, I had a guilty feeling gnawing away at me the whole two hours that we were there. Do I tell these people who we will most likely see again (they are part of our local homeschool group) that my daughter is transgender?

The situation felt kind of like the awkwardness when you are first dating. When do I tell this person that I don’t want to have kids/have an untreatable illness/insert other commonly judged blank here.  There are a few options here:

  1. You tell them right of the bat. It’s a way to weed out the people that you wouldn’t be a good fit with anyway. In our case, we wouldn’t have to waste time with people who are going to break my child’s heart by calling her a freak. We could step away now and only build friendships with people we believe will be allies. This of course comes with a whole host of problems, the least of which is outing my daughter to everyone that could possibly be her friend when she may not want anyone to know.
  2. We wait. We keep her previous identity under wraps and only tell people if and when we develop a close relationship with them. I worry about this option as well though. What if people feel we have been dishonest with them? And by people, I mean parents. I really don’t think that the children my 4-year old is playing with are going to have an issue, kids seem to just move on. What if the parent of my daughter’s best friend turns out to be transphobic? Do I risk having K meet a friend, develop a relationship with a friend, and then rip that relationship away? I know that if that happens, they weren’t the right friends for us, but would K understand that?

Writing this out, I immediately know what the right answer is, #2. K’s identity is not something for me to spill to every single person that we meet. I just worry for her though. Eventually, I feel like her heart is going to be broken by someone, somewhere because of what lies under her dress. We can’t hide from the hate forever, as much as I want to. I just hope that when the time comes, she understands that some people are just not ready for her. She isn’t broken, she isn’t a freak, she just isn’t understood by the whole world yet.

I am a pretty outspoken person and keeping something this big from “friends” will be tough for us; however, K has to be my priority over them. My first job is to protect her and make sure that she feels loved. That includes respecting her desires and keeping the secret for her until she is ready to let her own friends know.

Our Transition Part 2

The sadness.

I mentioned in my last post that I would come back to the sadness that I have felt during this transition. We have been watching this transition for about two years now as the gender-creativity expanded. We were not surprised when our “son” told us that they were our daughter, we were prepared, we have been open and accepting from the start, and yet I still find times when I just need to cry.

As an example, last week we bought K some new underwear; Palace Pets to be specific because who doesn’t love princesses and their fancy pets. Naturally underwear like this are found in the “girl” section. The kid knew what she wanted though and we were on a mission. Back at home we already had Paw Patrol underwear, but the “boy” version with the added support and hole in the front. I was curious how this would play out. Would K be OK keeping both genders of underwear? For a couple of days, she kept them both but only wore the new ones (no surprise since that’s what kids do), but two days ago, as we were putting away clothes, K spontaneously said, “Mommy, can we take my Paw Patrol underwear away?” Naturally I was more than willing, but as I put them into our storage tubs I began to cry. Slowly, piece by piece, it feels like I am losing my little boy.

My husband likes to point out that we aren’t losing a child, we are just seeing the child that was always there. This is true, but in my head I had a son. Sure my son was feminine and liked to wear dresses, but they were my little boy. There was an idea there… “mommy’s little boy.” Honestly I never really envisioned their future. I didn’t have dreams of them marrying a woman while they stood at the altar in a tux. I didn’t see them in some macho career. But I saw them now.

I have this photo of K that I swoon over from a fall photo shoot. K is wearing an adorable gray suit from Janie and Jack, hands in her pockets, looking off into the sunset like a Gap model. She is beautiful. I was going to get it blown up for our wall. The problem? That was before the transition. K hates the picture and even asked me to take it off of my phone. She doesn’t identify with that identity and seeing the picture makes her sad.

K wants to bury that part of her past and it breaks my heart. Thank goodness most photos of her appear girly or gender neutral for the past few years, but there are a few that don’t and those ones need to be purged from her sight. Slowly, we are giving up more and more of the child that I knew and loved. I will be eternally grateful that K trusted us enough to tell us her true gender and invite us on this journey with her. Sometimes I still miss the idea of that little boy though, and it absolutely breaks my heart to know that there is a part of my child’s past that hurts her so much that it needs to be buried.

So there is sadness in this transition and there are tears. There are tears for the child that never was and there tears for the pain that she feels. Importantly, K does not see my tears. I don’t want K to make her gender decisions based on what she feels will make mommy happy. She should never feel pressure to do that. And even though the tears come and go, they never last long. All I need to do is take one look at my beautiful surprise of a little girl. As soon as I see how happy she is and how authentically she is living, I smile. She is wonderful and I wouldn’t change anything about her.

Our Transition Part 1

One of the reasons that I wanted to write this blog is because I found myself confused so many times over the past month. I have been reading a lot of books over the past few months (as we anticipated heading in this direction) and none of them really seemed to describe our situation. I tried to find stories online and just couldn’t find a transition journey that really dove into the details. In case there are other people looking for journeys that they can relate to, I wanted to put our story out there as well.

So what has transition been like for us over the past few months? Even for a family that has been open about gender, and was somewhat anticipating this outcome, this transition has still frequently confused me and even brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

I’ll save the sadness for Part 2, and use this post to focus on the complete and utter confusion that plagues me at times. Have you ever read any books about transgender children? I feel like in every book I have read, every story I have heard, the children come up to their parents one day and say “I am a _____ (insert opposite gender here).” These children have been adamant that they are that gender, they are forceful with their parents, and after transitioning, they are happier. In fact, that happiness is one of the signs that your child is truly transgender: transitioning brings them a sort of peace that they didn’t have before.

Here’s our issue though. Having always allowed a creative gender expression, whether at home or in public, our “transition” consisted of a pronoun change and name change. There was no change in clothing choices or gender expression; K’s hair was already long, she already wore dresses, and strangers already referred to her as my daughter. As such, we didn’t have as dramatic of a transition as I continue to read about in stories. I imagine our experience with that is why we haven’t noticed an increase in happiness levels (although there has been a lot less hitting of big sister). That’s what the rational part of me says. Then the crazy part of me takes over and I think, “Oh my gosh, there wasn’t a huge difference in happiness levels. My child must not actually be trans, what am I doing to her?!?!” I go a little crazy. Being a type A planner, the uncertainty kind of kills me. It doesn’t matter that my oldest daughter’s therapist thinks this is the real thing, nope nope, she didn’t seem to get happy enough.

Books about transgender kids also like to say that truly transgender kids are consistent, insistent, and persistent. Again, this is more difficult in a situation that has been more open and accepting of creativity, both in home and in public. We have the consistency since we have been experimenting with gender for about two years now, the past year of which we have been gravitating toward the female end of the gender spectrum. K never corrected anyone for calling her a girl, never complained to me about it, never made a face, nothing. It didn’t bother her in the least. That being said, she also never corrected me for calling her a boy. We haven’t really had a chance for her to be persistent with us about her gender either. Coming on board right away with her, she hasn’t had to correct me and say, “No mommy, I’m a girl.” I haven’t called her a boy since April 4, and frankly it just seems mean to do that in order to see if she will respond to me. Since she fits the female gender expression mold, she also doesn’t have to correct anyone else because no one will mistake her as a boy.

This is an interesting place to be in. I find myself wanting to know, is K truly transgender or is she just experimenting? My husband says it doesn’t matter. If K is truly transgender and we do not support her, the suicide attempt rate is at about 40%. With support however, that rate drops to almost the same rate as the general population. Further, if K is not transgender but we still follow her on this journey, they have not found any long term effects. To me, that seems like a no-brainer. By supporting our child, there is relatively low risk (teasing and harassment) but a very great reward (significant decrease in suicide risk).

I will say that no one was ever corrected when they called K a girl and we were still identifying as a boy. However, K has corrected me and others close to us for calling her a boy now that she identifies as a girl. I try so hard to just go with the flow and be patient, but I really really want answers and want to know what to expect in my child’s future. It is getting easier and easier to let go of these obsessions though as we live more in the moment and try to follow K’s lead more. This needs to be K’s journey of self-discovery, not mommy-led pressure for her to present one way or another.

Socially Transitioned

For the past month, we have been working on transitioning. To me it has felt slow, but compared to other stories I have heard, I suppose we are actually moving quite fast. We transitioned with family first, but within the week, we had also switched names/gender at the library (we are there multiple times a week and are on a first name basis with the librarians.) Gymnastics came about a week later. I don’t think that her teacher quite understood at first, but she didn’t have any problem being supportive. Next came swimming. That was interesting. A few weeks ago, K’s swimsuit (the boy one) was too small and it was time to buy a new one. K was adamant, she wanted the Ariel swimsuit with a tutu. Once we switched to that, it was time to have a discussion with the instructors. Interestingly, K was not ready to be K there and wanted to be a boy wearing a sparkly, Ariel, tutu swimsuit. I spoke to the manager and mentioned that we had transitioned at home but that we weren’t ready here yet.  Afterwards, K’s teacher came up to me (the manager spoke to her) and asked whether she should use the pronoun “she” or “they” while we were in this in between time. I was so impressed that she even thought of “they,” and I knew that K would be safe whenever she decided to transition at swimming… it was the next week. Honestly the swim school was so supportive (and unsurprised); they were just happy to hear that we were allowing our child to be who she wanted to be. It was great. That was 3 days ago.

The YMCA had been our hold out. I can’t really say that I’m surprised seeing as K had been teased there by kids before. Apparently some of the children thought that boys could not wear dresses. With the history of teasing, it was going to take K a lot of courage to tell the Y what her authentic self was. After coming out at swimming, her courage was boosted, and she was ready the next day. We went into the Y early to get things changed in their system and to make sure that K’s name tag was printed right. When she saw K written on the name tag, her face just lit up. She was so happy and when we left the Y she was literally skipping through the parking lot.

We have officially made the social transition everywhere now. We are no longer switching names or genders depending on the circumstances. K is here to stay. I am so proud of the courage and strength that she has shown. She is an amazing little girl, and I am incredibly blessed to have her in my life.

A Child’s Depression

Kids get sad a lot. Maybe someone at a playgroup doesn’t share, or maybe mommy says “no” to the cool new toy that they pass at the store. Sadness in children happens All. The. Time. My oldest is almost 7 and we have seen over and over again the ridiculous things that can make kids sad, my favorite being when A was crying horribly because her eyes were wet, never realizing that her crying is in fact what made her eyes wet in the first place. We’ve been there. What I have never seen before is the type of sadness that I saw in K’s face yesterday.

In order to explain this, I feel like I need to offer a bit of backstory. K’s birthday was a little over a month ago, but her birthday party was only two weeks ago. K wanted a Paw Patrol birthday party, so as a surprise, we ordered her a special birthday outfit with “A” embroidered. Of course, the week after it was order, A told us that she was in fact K. We ordered a new shirt with K embroidered on it (this is actually a fantastic pick-me-up- story for another day). A wonderful person in one of my crafting groups offered for me to send her the A shirt so that she could cut off “A” and attach the beautiful top to a skirt and create an awesome Paw Patrol dress for K… all she needed was to know at where the letters would fall on K’s body so that we could decide what style of skirt to attach.

Well, yesterday I brought the “A” shirt out for K to try on. As soon as she saw it, this pained looked came over her face and she began to cry. She climbed into my lap and sobbed into my neck. This was a different type of sadness than I have ever seen in a child: despair, depression, complete and utter sadness. Had I caused this? We had not gone to the Y this week, so K had not heard the name “A” in a week. She had been living solely as K with no reminders of the past. The night before, we had actually had a “girl’s night” where we did our nails, put on fancy dresses, and did each other’s make-up and hair (ouch). Had we been having so much fun that she forgot about her previous identity? Was it already so painful to bring up? Perhaps it was neither. Maybe she was sad because she didn’t want to see the shirt cut. Maybe she isn’t ready for her identity as “A” to go? I don’t know. I tried to talk to her about it later in the day. We talked about skirts and dresses. She was so excited, but when she mentioned a Paw Patrol dress, she caught herself, shut down, and said in a very sad little voice, “I don’t want to talk about this.” That shirt brought up something very painful for my little one, and it broke my heart. I don’t know how to fix this for her. Most of the time I feel lost and confused; I don’t know how to navigate this, as hard as I try. What I do know is that no 4-year old should have the kind of sadness that she exposed to me the other day. I am thankful that it was only for a moment, but the fact that that pain exists somewhere inside of her, anywhere, breaks my heart. I simply cannot fathom what she is going through right now.

That shirt has been folded up and put in a box in my closet; I cannot in good conscience willingly expose her to those emotions again. For those of you reading this who may worry, we have connected with a gender therapist that K absolutely love and we see her again in 2 days. K is getting all of the support that we can give her.