Monday night. Making dinner, packing the next day’s lunch, supervising homework. Someone calls my cell phone. I don’t recognize the number so I let it go to voicemail.
Turns out it’s M.’s first grade teacher. It’s a long message.
Apparently one of the other first grade teachers got an email from a parent. Her daughter had been talking about mine. Something about M. “showing her penis” in the bathroom stall. M.’s teacher was surprised by this, as was I. Last year, M. was less cagey about revealing her trans status; she even told a few of her close friends. But this year it’s been different. She’s been increasingly private about it, not wanting anyone new to know.
M.’s teacher is wonderful. She is the perfect mix of gentle and wise and goofy, and my daughter adores her – and trusts her. When I called her back, she told me she had taken M. aside to ask her about this. M. told her that she hadn’t shown the girl anything.
“This little girl’s mom said she has a tendency to make up stories,” the teacher says, “So…”
One of M.’s little confidants spilled the beans. It’s not really surprising. They’re only six years old, and they were in possession of some pretty interesting information about my kid. They’re all sweet little girls, but they still have the power to hurt mine.
“Talk to M.’s dad and to M., and let me know you want me to do,” the teacher says.
I talked to M. that night after dinner. I told her that her teacher had called and why. I asked her if she had told this little girl that she was transgender. She shook her head.
“That’s what I thought,” I said. “Because I know you’ve been really private about being transgender lately.”
I reminded her of the three friends she had told last year. “Sometimes people forget about not telling something this is private, and they tell it anyway. That can happen. Maybe one of them forgot.”
She nodded, forgiving her friends.
“Maybe you could remind your friends that this is something private. And I could tell their parents the same thing. Would you like me to do that?”
She nodded again. “Right NOW, I only want to tell my really close friends. But when I’m older, I’m going to be a famous transgender girl.”
“Yeah, like that girl in the video.”
Wow. I’m not sure which video she’s referring to. I’ve shown her several YouTube clips of transgender tweens and teens on TV, in hopes of showing her how normal she is. Apparently it worked.
“But that’s when I’m, like, a teenager. I’ll be famous then. But now, when I’m a first-grader, I want to be the one to tell people. Only me. ONLY. ME.”
I assure her that I’ll back her up on that, and so will her dad and her teacher.
It strikes me, standing there in the kitchen, watching my six-year-old transgender daughter state the terms of her disclosure and her plans for teenage stardom, that this is what empowerment looks like. And transgender or not, she’s got it.