It’s birthday time!


For three full minutes they fell eerily and beautifully silent.
And then… the sugar hit.

M. turned six over the weekend.  Six!

So I told her she could invite six friends over to our house for a party. But then six became seven, and seven became eight.

No worries, said gendermom, like she’d done this before (she hadn’t). It’s not like they’ll ALL be able to come.

They all came.

As the parents kissed their daughters goodbye and flew out the door, eager to drink in each precious child-free moment, M. and Sophie, her BFF from school, began making farting sounds on their arms.

For two remarkably long hours, I was in charge of nine six-year-old girls.  Yes, all girls.  As soon as the guest list began to take shape, M., my transgender daughter, had announced a strict “girls only” policy for her party. No exceptions – not even for her beloved boy cousins or her playground sweetheart, the highly huggable H.  Having clawed and scratched her feisty way inside the girl camp, she’s going to make darn sure there aren’t any holes in the fence. (What if they let a boy in and then someone kicks her out? Better not risk it.)

When the blur of squeals, cupcakes, and jokes about butts (thank you, M. and Sophie) was all over and done and the last little guest had departed, it was time, of course, for the family party.

On the same day?

Why yes!

Heck, gendermom had reasoned (apparently relying upon a mysterious system that does not actually resemble ‘reason’ at all), Why not get it all over in one fell swoop?

Grandma and Grandpa arrived, their arms full of gifts, along with my sister and her kids and a close family friend who is my parents’ age and who dotes on M. – we’ll call her Auntie S. After dinner (pizza) and the day’s second round of presents and cake, plus a restorative glass or two of cabernet for yours truly, M. stood up on a chair and banged a metal spoon against a saucepan.

“Ladies and Gentlemen! Ladies and Gentlemen! Please take your seats!”

My sister and I obediently joined Grandma and Auntie S. on the couch. We knew the drill: It was Show Time!  Grandpa made the rounds with a wine bottle, refilling our glasses.

“The show is starting!  Take your seats!  Grandpa, that means you!

Then M. and her cousin, A., treated us to one of those hastily prepared and barely intelligible skits that I remember performing as a kid at family events.  M. was the star, of course.  I think she was the director, too. She barked orders at her older cousin (“Go there! No, over here!”), who lurked off to the side, obviously not sure this skit was such a good idea after all.

The show turned out to be a gripping medical drama:  M., with a plastic baby doll stuffed into her dress, clutched her sides and moaned, then shouted at her cousin: “Husband! Husband! Catch the baby! Catch the baby!” Poor A. was too nervous to join M. at center stage to catch his baby, and it dropped to the ground with a thud.  “Again! We need to do it again!” the little director called.  They did it again, and this time the seven-year-old husband dutifully snatched his newborn baby and tucked it under his arm.  (We recognized the story. My parents’ goddaughter had just given birth while standing up in the hospital waiting room, and her husband actually caught the kid before the doctors showed up to help. I’m assuming he caught it on the first try. M. must have heard us talking about this and mined it for dramatic purposes, which I thought showed great creative instincts, actually. I felt so proud of her, and also really, really sad. I looked around the room at my family:  Were they all thinking what I was? That this will never happen? That this is as close as my child will ever get to being pregnant? Or am I the only one who inserts a transgender subtext into everything? And does my daughter really not know yet how this baby stuff works?)

M. bowed (grandly).  A. bowed (perfunctorily). The audience cheered, raised our glasses, and attempted to return to our interrupted conversations.M. held the stage.  “So… Do you guys want an encore or a different show next?”

I talked with my mom later about how great the party had been and how proud I was of M.’s moxie. I told her how M. had led all her friends in a Sound of Music sing-a-long at her birthday party that afternoon, and then got them to line up and follow her on a parade through the house.  “My kid’s a leader!” I bragged. “She could be president!”

Then Mom told me what Auntie S. had said on their drive home from the party.  “She remarked on how M.’s energy was so… like that of a boy.”

Huh?  This again? 

I told her about how Sophie had stuffed an entire cupcake in her mouth at the party, shocking and delighting the all-girl crowd, and how Sophie had soundly defeated M. in their fart-noise competition.  “But no one says Sophie is acting like a boy!” I said.  “She’s ‘sassy’ or ‘strong’ or a ‘tom boy’ because she’s not transgender!”

“I know, I know,” my mom said, trying to calm me down. “I’m sure you’re right, honey.”

Last week my cousin dropped off some of her daughter’s hand-me-down clothes for M. These included some cute little jeans with a snazzy rhinestone pattern on the pocket. I pointed out this girlie feature to M. “Look, isn’t this pretty? Why don’t you try these on?”

“Nope. I don’t wear pants,” she said, like a vegan explaining her diet: No eggs, no dairy, no pants. End of discussion.

I didn’t push it.  I don’t care, of course, if she ever wears pants, but I long for the day she’ll feel like she can wear them if she wants to. For now, she’s carefully avoiding any missteps that might result in her expulsion from the girl camp: No pants, no boys at your birthday party.  But so far, thank goodness, no fear of taking center stage and leading her comrades in song.

Happy birthday, angel.  I love you with all my heart.


How on earth is that headless child going to manage to blow out her birthday candles? Hmmm….

15 thoughts on “It’s birthday time!

  1. I’m glad you were gutsy enough to point out the double standard (sassy vs. boy-like) to your mom / the auntie. They’ll learn. Just keep reminding them. And… a belated happy birthday to M.! (Does she know about your blog?)

  2. ♥HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR M.-M…. ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU♥
    Now as for you gendermom, have another glass of wine, Cupcake vineyards cabernet sauvignon ( is really nice and befitting the occasion considering the mess Sophie made after her achievement at the party, lol! M. will manage just fine considering the choices she’s made so far and concerning the path the wants to follow. She’s an old soul and is blessed to have you and the wisdom to guide her. And who knows, M. may very well be a future president of the USA. From your lips to Her ears… God Bless you all and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  3. P.S. The birthday cake looks YUMPCIOUS! I love anything with meringue and I know it’s a labor of love to make one that comes out looking as beautiful as the one in the photo. And even the crust looks PERFECT… Brava!

  4. How can your daughter ever fail with you behind her.Though I’ll be happy to hear one day she’s had the operations to giver her the body to match her mindset I’ll be sad that she won’t be able to accomplish motherhood and lead her child as you lead yours.Maybe she’ll be too involved in her acting career by then or running for President.Good health and good luck to her.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  5. Happy Birthday to M. My own daughter, who is cis, refused to wear anything but skirts and dresses, from the ages of 4 to 8. Some kids are just like that. Drove me nuts though–I had all these adorable little sequined and embroidered jeans, and she wouldn’t wear them.

    Of course, as soon as I stopped buying them and we didn’t have any in the house, she decided that maybe she would wear a pair one day. 😛 Kids.

  6. As you began describing the birth skit, I too thought of the fact that this would be impossible for M. But, I’m also MTF transgender so it’s only natural that I’d jump to that same conclusion.

    And the whole acting like a boy/acting like a girl thing? Yeesh, that gets old fast.



  7. “Why not get it all over in one fell swoop?”

    This made me laugh. I have three kids. My sons share a birthday and my daughter’s is two days later. In 2012, I had the ingenious idea to have all the parties AT THE SAME TIME. We usually have them the same weekend, maybe even the same day, but never this crazy carnival thing I tried. So I had a girl turning 12 with her 8 or 9 closest friends, a boy turning 9 with at least 6 friends, and a boy turning 4 with one friend. We had ceramic decorating, a bounce house, games, hot dogs. We tried to feed and open presents and sing happy birthday (3 cakes!) in shifts. It was seriously insane. I never stopped moving and had to assign responsibilities to out-of-state family who didn’t know they’d be put to work. It was the first birthday weekend my aunt came to and she didn’t come back this past year! 🙂

    Yeah, so… why *not* get it all over in one fell swoop? lol

  8. I must admit that as a fellow transgender, I’m very impressed of how sure your daughter is about herself at such a young age. I’m proud of her. Happy Birthday, M. I hope she had lots of fun at her birthday parties.

  9. Serious fun at M’s birthday. Well, they’ll be many, many more parties with the girls (and mom, for awhile). Your being there, gendermom, will make sure that M loves you as her devoted mother, but also loves you as one of her best friends. No one could ask for more. M and you will have each other until the end, so party on! It truly cannot get better than that. Happy birthday, M!

  10. Happy birthday to M. Gendermom, I’m really glad that you pointed out the double standard in being ‘boy-like’ and being ‘sassy’, too. I’ve always hated that kind of double standard. I think that society needs to get rid of the idea of there being ‘girl things’ and ‘boy things’ for things like toys, activities and behaviour. After all, they’re just ‘people things’, why does gender always have to come into everything.

  11. My transgirl turned five this month. The part where you’re writing on being pregnant haunts me as well. We’re not ready for mainstream school yet. Maybe first grade. Thank you for writing about this.

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