Thanksgiving With a Transgender Child
BY Frank Lowe
July 14 2014 8:16 AM ET
Every couple of Thanksgivings, our family goes over to a big celebration at Nana’s house (Nana is our son’s babysitter turned pseudo-grandma, which you can read more about here). She has a big family and hosts it at her home and we are happy to be surrounded by a bunch of wonderful, loving people. Surprisingly, we weren’t the only gay couple, and as a matter of fact, there were three couples at last year’s dinner. Our son had a few kids to play with, so he was content and occupied for most of the evening. However, this visit was different than prior years.
We were among the first guests to arrive, and per usual we brought the booze. I was pouring wine at the wet bar and talking to Nana when a little girl came running in the room, probably around 8 years old. I didn’t recognize her, but didn’t pay much attention to her. She had long hair, was wearing a skirt, and was rocking some three-inch heels, and I just thought, Go, girl. Seeing her prompted me to ask Nana, “Will that little boy who was here a couple years ago be here for Briggs [our son] to play with?” She immediately got a big “shut the fuck up look” on her face and pulled me aside and said, “That little girl you just saw? That’s him. She no longer identifies as a little boy, and she and her family have been struggling with this for years.” Honestly, I was shocked. I have a couple of adult friends who are transgender but have never encountered a transgender child. I couldn’t help but examine her closer, and honest to God, I wouldn’t have known she wasn’t a girl if I wasn’t told differently (not that it matters, but she was very convincing).
All of the kids found each other and soon enough they were all playing together, and since she was just like the other little girls (with the exception of those heels), no one seemed to notice. The night progressed, and after dinner, it is tradition for her family to have everyone gather in the parlor and discuss what they are thankful for. The girl sat with her family, who were unusually quiet and clearly emotional, and when it was their turn, I had to fight back tears. They talked about their struggles with having to change schools and fight bathroom policies and bullies and doing whatever it took to ensure their daughter was safe. It was heartbreaking. It made it more heartbreaking to realize that this was a very plain, rural couple who weren’t necessarily equipped to handle the situation in the first place. But they did exactly that. And did a beautiful job at it as well.
We left a little bit later and I turned to my aloof husband in the car and said something along the lines of, “Wow, I can’t believe how well-adapted she is, at such a young age.” He had no idea what I was talking about. It dawned on me that he wasn’t in the room when her parents spoke or when Nana pulled me aside to tell me what’s up. He was completely clueless that the little girl used to be a little boy. I explained everything to him and we both discussed how things have come such a long way since we were children, and how fortunate that we are raising our son in an evolving world. Seeing that little girl was very inspiring to me. At such a young age, she is dealing with some very adult issues and facing adversity head on. I am excited to see her next time and will be as supportive as possible when she completely transitions one day. She was the last thing I thought about before I went to sleep that night, and I just smiled to myself and thought The world is already a better place because of people like her. Good for her.