My Homophobic Trans Child

I haven’t been entirely honest with my child. 

In an effort to convince her that there’s nothing strange or abnormal about being transgender, I’ve stacked the deck in her favor, filling our world with as many transgender and gender-nonconforming people as possible.  We do a lot of play dates with other kids from our support group.  One of our babysitters is a trans teen girl.  And I’ve started volunteering in the local transgender community, bringing a new group of adults into our lives who are scattered all along the gender spectrum.

The kid definitely believes that her cohort is bigger than it is.  She probably assumes that, say, one in ten people is transgender, rather than the three in one thousand that it’s actually estimated to be.

We’ve developed our own lexicon to talk about gender. There are “girls with vaginas” (like me) and “girls with penises” (like her).  Then there are “boys with penises” (like her cousins) and “boys with vaginas,” and there are people like our friend T., who is “a mix of boy and girl” (genderqueer).  There are also “boys who really like girl stuff” and “girls who really like boy stuff.”  We have friends who fall into all of these categories.  I like having a lexicon that is concrete and descriptive, leaves little room for misinterpretation, includes everyone, and is devoid of adult politics and baggage.  It makes sense to my five-year-old, and it makes sense to me. 

One night at bedtime, I was telling M. a story about a group of young animal friends who live in a meadow. The Meadow Gang had become a crowd favorite for “doing crazy mischief and having ginormous adventures,” so they were featured for several nights running.  Their ring-leader was a little gray mouse named Mookie. Mookie was definitely the coolest kid in the meadow.  I hadn’t intended to leave Mookie’s gender ambiguous, but I guess I had. 

Mookie was about to climb the tallest oak tree in the forest to rescue his friend Sammy Squirrel when M. interrupted. “Is Mookie a boy or a girl or both?”

I smiled. I would have high-fived myself if I knew how to do that.  Operation Normalize Gender Diversity… complete! 

But I didn’t stay smug for long.  The next night at dinner, I was telling M. about a new friend I had just made.  “So I met this nice person and her name’s Hanna.  She is really funny – oh, and she is a girl with a penis, like you, but anyway…  She just got married to a nice lady named Becca, and –“

M. interrupted.  “Wait. She’s a girl and she married another girl?”

“Umm, yeah.”

M., my daughter with a penis, gave me a stern look.  “A girl marrying a girl?” She shook her head. “That’s not normal, Mom.”


10 thoughts on “My Homophobic Trans Child

  1. Ok this is rad, but you just went ahead and outed someone as trans, and discussed their genitals with someone else? Outing people is whack, and what they have between their legs is nobody’s business except who their sleeping with or their doctor. That is unless they gave you express permission to talk about what was between their legs, and the fact that they’re trans with certain people.

    I realize that you outed this person to your daughter, who is also trans… But yeah, you miiiiight want to think about the ethics of that one.

    Also trans dykes exist and stuff. Props for exposing your little one to our awesomeness.

    • That’s a really good point. Outing other trans people while protecting my child’s privacy is not cool. I should have mentioned that my friend explicitly told me that she was fine with me “outing” her to my daughter. She wanted my kid to have a role model and offered to serve as one, as an example of a healthy, happy “adult girl with a penis.” Otherwise, I would not have told my child about my friend’s anatomy. Obviously that would NOT have been appropriate. Thanks for bringing that up.

  2. This cracked me up! That’s awesome that you’ve made being transgender as normal as possible for her.

    I love your comprehensive lexicon. It brings up something I’ve often wondered. If society didn’t try to convince transgender children that they are just boys who like girl stuff or girls who like boy stuff, if everyone just believed a kid when they said they are a different gender than the one they were born as, would it affect the way the kid behaved and what they liked? I wonder if some transgender kids go all out in liking “girl” stuff to try and prove what they know, that they’re a girl (or vice versa). Just like there are “girls who really like boy stuff,” I’m assuming there must be girls with penises who also like boy stuff.

    Anyway, I love your blog. It inspires a lot of thought, and your writing style is great.

    • Yes, some of us do go all out, except I’m the other way around. I’m a boy with a vagina who likes girl stuff, but I pretended not to and was just all boy before I transitioned.

  3. I guess it is important to remember that in addition to teaching kids to accept people who are gay, straight, black, white, trans, etc., it should be a part of a more comprehensive lesson about accepting ALL people no matter what they look like, or who they love. Like, acknowledging that all people are unique and different, and that being different than an idea we have in our head about what that person SHOULD be like is totally cool – because kids will at some point come across a situation you haven’t talked to them about or really thought about (i.e. two women getting married, or a person dressed in super goth gear, or with lots of tattoos, or conjoined twins), but if they are instilled with the idea that different doesn’t necessarily mean weird, or not normal, or strange that instead, the child (person) will want to understand more about this different thing they saw/experienced especially if the person is going way out of the “norm” to express their true selves. That way you are not just teaching good, bad, and normal – you are teaching them a mechanism for teaching themselves and opening their minds and wanting to learn….

    love your blog! so much honesty, and so well written. thank you.

  4. Only about half of us women with penises do it! Incidentally I wonder if it’s as likely for her to be lesbian or bi as it is for those of us who had to go through the “wrong” puberty? All the trans people I know of who blocked their natural puberty were straight (though I admit I don’t have a very large sample).

  5. I’m genderqueer, and trying to explain that to my kid in a way that won’t result in awkward things being repeated to his 1st Grade friends has been… interesting, to say the least. I thought I was doing a good job of it, if I may say so myself, but then one day I mentioned my ex-girlfriend and he was shocked. “You were dating a GIRL? How could you do that?” “Oh honey, it’s okay, people can date whomever they want-” But he quickly interrupted my attempt at education with “Oh right… it’s okay because you’re queer!” I had a good laugh. You heard it from my son, folks: it’s okay to date someone of the same sex or gender, as long as you’re not straight!

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