Trans everywhere

I’m starting to wonder if there is a plot here. Lately transgender stories keep finding me. I’ll be going along, having a perfectly normal day, and then, boom, the universe drops a little transgender bomb.

Boom. A snippet of conversation overheard about someone transitioning.

Boom. A news story about bathroom rights.

Ka-boom. A podcast about parenting and surprise, the featured guest is talking about parenting a transgender child.

It’s as if the universe keeps putting stories unexpectedly in front of me. She says, “see, learn, understand.” And I try.

Is it just me or does the transgender topic seem to be everywhere?! I’m guessing it’s more a case of seeing and hearing more once you are open to something.

Or is transgender becoming a trending topic? Is it popular to discuss at dinner parties? Are the issues casually pondered by cis folks over a beer?

I really can’t tell anymore.

Here’s a few things that found their way into my world these past few weeks:

The Moth: A Mother’s Journey by Catherine Cross– Oh my god. Did I cry.

Here Be Monsters: Deep Stealth Mode-More tears. And the words “girl with a penis” haven’t left my mind.

This parenting website: Kids In The House

Supportive books for gender non-conforming and gender variant children: Accepting Dad-What an amazing resource!





Coming out of our secure box

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47e1-0d5f-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.wSo, that first post is out in the world. It’s a little scary for me, coming out of our little box of security. I fear sharing our story will open up our family to criticism. I worry that people will label Sparkle or put or a name on him.

I worry he will learn that about the awful darkness that exists in the world, where people try to define you and when you push back against their ideas and definitions, you are judged. You are othered.

See, our world is fairly small and contained. Sparkle wears his dress in places where people know and love him (previously at his preschool), or in public where we definitely get looks, but typically people won’t say anything because we are with him.

Most of our extended family has no idea about Sparkle. When they see him at family events, we’ve usually bribed convinced him to leave the dress at home.

(We fully realize this is for our benefit. We feel guilty about it. More about that later.)

Up to last fall, we’d been able to control his exposure in the world. We’ve tried to protect him, to keep him from feeling than he’s something other than his perfect self.

Our small world started to feel secure. It’s cool. Our kid likes to wear a dress and tiaras. It all starts to feel normal and comfortable. And I can breathe and it all feels fine.

Until he has to go off to kindergarten. And he chooses the pinkest and prettiest backpack with rainbows and ponies and he starts to get teased for having a “girl backpack” and he wants to wear his dress and says “other girls get to wear their dresses to school” and he begs to wear his rainbow tights every. single. day. and…and…and…

The world suddenly got very big and very scary. I can no longer control his exposure to people who might be cruel to him. And I can no longer breathe. And it doesn’t feel fine.

So talking about Sparkle feels a bit like a betrayal. As if I’m pushing him in front of this big crowd of strangers like some bad Jerry Springer episode.

I don’t want to talk about what Sparkle is figuring out. I don’t want to do any of this. I just want to do is grab him and run far, far away. Talking about Sparkle like this feels like a bad-Mommy move.

(So shut up already. Why blog about this if it’s such a big deal? No one is making you…)

Pure and simple–I need to.  Writing helps me process. Helps me get into my head and wade around in the flurry of thoughts and try to organize them in some orderly fashion. And goodness knows, my head is a jumble these day. Getting clarity allows me to get my crap out of the way and be the parent that Sparkle needs.

And putting those thoughts out into the world is a bit of a confessional. You know, set them free and they will bind you no more…

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll connect with other moms like myself. I know they are out there. Moms who are watching their kids go through *this thing* and want to know they aren’t alone in their concerns, their trials, their discoveries.

Sigh. My Sparkle.

For now, I’ll wade into these waters and see how it goes.

Blue dress, happy boy


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Sparkle hangs up his new dress for the night!

The only thing our four-year-old son wanted for Christmas was the shiny, blue, glittery Elsa dress like the one he’d seen in the movie Frozen.

He’d asked for it for months. Consistently. Repeatedly.

He’d make us stop and look at the dresses when we were in the store. He’d color pictures of them. He’d tied his Superhero cape around his waist and pretend it was the dress.

His father and I had more than a few late-night talks about it.

Should we get it for him? We didn’t have any objection to him dressing up in a dress. When we picked him up from preschool he’d often be found in a dress and heels, prancing around with the other girls as they played in the dress-up area of the classroom.

Wanting a dress was par for the course our son had been on. At two years of age he regularly identified himself as a girl and frequently played with toys that were generally considered “girl toys.” Since we support gender neutrality in toys, our home was filled with a variety of toy options–dolls, trucks, blocks, crafts, a toy kitchen.

“Sparkle” also said he was a boy on occasion so we were just watching and waiting–he was working something out. We were going to let him.

No, we didn’t mind that he wanted a dress. Who wouldn’t want that beautiful blue dress?

But as a parent, intentionally going out to purchase a dress for our son felt uncomfortable.

As if purchasing a dress for our SON was somehow against the rules of parenting.

Hell, that’s crazy, we decided. If a dress makes our son happy, then he’s getting a dress for Christmas. He likes what he likes and giving him a dress isn’t going to scar him or twist him or “turn him gay.” We weren’t afraid of any of that.

So we went out and bought him a Frozen dress. We wrapped it up and couldn’t wait for him to open it on Christmas.

Oddly, his reaction was subdued. He seemed surprised and set it aside. We had to cajole him to finally put it on. And when he did, pure joy. He swirled and pranced.

And he’s lived in that dress for a year.

He’s worn it to school, on bowling outings, and at the zoo. Family functions, hiking and grocery shopping.

We get many looks when he’s in that dress. Sometimes a knowing nod and wink. Women stop to compliment him on his ensemble (he often accessorizes with homemade crowns, necklaces, long bits of yarn tied to headbands, and bracelets). Men do double takes. People mistakenly call him a girl.

Some kids point fingers. A lot of grown-ups stare. And more than a few have told him that dresses are for girls.

And yet, he endures. The dress is 5″ too short for him now. The blue crystal gem on the front fell off long ago. The cape has rips. And the hem has had to be repaired three times.

That dress is his safe place. It’s the first thing he puts on after he’s home from school. The thing he reaches for when he’s angry.

That dress has made us all stronger and tougher. That dress is the start of a journey with our little Sparkle. We just aren’t exactly sure where we are going.