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.