Christmas with my… daughter!

I didn’t think I was going to have a daughter.  Six years ago today, I was extremely pregnant, waddling through the holidays and singing Christmas carols to the little boy in my tummy.  I was planning, imagining, and eagerly anticipating the year and the lifetime ahead as the mother of a son.

My husband and I considered ourselves to be progressive, open-minded, and forward-thinking people.  We had taken that sociology class in college where you learn that boy babies are carried facing outward, thrust assertively into the world even as infants, while girl babies are held with their faces snuggled gently and protectively into their mother’s soft breast.  So we knew that gender was highly socially constructed. But we also knew that some mysterious thing called “gender” felt… well, “natural” to us.  Even though I’m not a very “girlie” girl, I still felt very comfortable being labeled as a woman; my husband felt very steady in being identified as a man. I had always identified with other females – with the way we communicated, with the games we liked to play as girls, the movies we chose to watch.  And my husband had always identified with “guy stuff” – comic books and Legos in childhood, action movies and martial arts as a teenager, a “male” career in technology as an adult. And based on these experiences, we expected certain things from the child – the male child – that was about to arrive.

And then, shortly after Christmas six years ago… she arrived.  We didn’t know yet that she wasn’t a boy, of course.  That came a few years later, when she got a hold of a pink Tinker Bell nightie and wouldn’t take it off for weeks.  And then there was the announcement, shortly after her third birthday, that she was actually a girl.

Christmas, circa 1979.  Me and my little sis, pretty and proud in our Norwegian bunods.

Christmas, circa 1979.
Me and my little sis, pretty and proud in our Norwegian bunods.

The holidays are thick with family traditions.  In my family, we always dressed up for the big Christmas party with our relatives.  One year, my Norwegian grandmother returned from a trip home to Oslo with matching dresses for me and my younger sister.  They were traditional Norwegian bunod dresses, with long black skirts and embroidered red bodices.  My brother didn’t get one, of course.  This was a girl thing.  We loved those dresses. They were exotic and beautiful and though we would not have been able to put it into words, we knew that those dresses represented something important about our heritage and about what it meant to be a woman in our family.  The relatives oohed and aahed at the wonder of us – two little women carrying on something ancient and vital.

When my aunt emailed me the details for this year’s big family Christmas party, I remembered those dresses.  I tracked them down – an older cousin had them in her closet. Her daughters had worn them a few years ago.  I hadn’t thought of them until now. I hadn’t thought I’d need them because I had a son.

I don’t know what it means that M. is a girl, frankly.  Perhaps all that matters is that she feels she is one, just like I do.  I asked her if she wanted to wear the bunod to the family party.  I told her that I had worn it when I was her age.  I told her she could choose what she wore.  There was also the pretty velvet Christmas dress my mom had bought her.  I was a bit surprised when she didn’t hesitate to choose the bunod. Perhaps she understood, just like I had, that it represented something important.  Or maybe she just thought it was pretty.  It sure looked beautiful on her at the party. The women of the family oohed and aahed at the wonder of her, and she knew without a doubt that she was one of them.


21 thoughts on “Christmas with my… daughter!

  1. You are an absolutely terrific mom! I wish you and your entire family a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, and fulfilling New Year!


  2. You are wonderful. Such acceptance of your little girl is going to make what could be a difficult life so much easier for her.Acceptance by the whole family at a gathering will ensure she is comfortable to be around them at any time. You’ll have all given her such strength. When gender reassignment happens she’ll be able to take part in all the activities other little girls do without a second thought, like communal showering.
    Have a Wonderful Christmas all/
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  3. Tu es extraordinaire elle est certainement heureuse d’avoir une maman génial , maman me comprend je ne suis pas seule .
    Les choses vont rentrer dans l’ordre une fois 20 ans , je t’admire ….je sais que tu dois faire face devant un tel combat , grâce a toi elle sera heureuse dans sa vie ❤
    Je vous souhaites à vous deux un très bon Noël que règne l' amour et la joie 🙂
    Je t'embrasse ainsi que ton petit bout de femme 😉
    :-* xxxxxxxxx

  4. I think David Prosser’s comment above is perfect. Happy holidays to a beautiful little girl on a wondrous journey and her beautiful mother who is with her in love and support.

  5. That’s adorable she chose to wear something that had such tradition and meaning attached to it. She clearly loves the women in her family well done for passing on those values

  6. It breaks my heart knowing what the world might throw at her later in life. However, with families like yours refusing to give in to those ancient pressures, one day we will accept people as they are. I believe reading and sharing stories like yours will help change the attitudes of many. These small glimpses into the life of someone so young yet so sure of themselves is truly eye opening, especially for those of us who are not living in the midst of it. I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and wish you the very best in the coming years! And please let M know there are many others out there who are on her side!! =)

  7. I love your blog, it’s feels like I could be reading my own journal, but better written! I have a 7 year old transgender daughter. It’s amazing how every time I read another families story it is practically identical to ours. I’m so happy to know my sweet girl will grow up in a time where there will be many confident, happy supported trans kids to relate to. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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