“I Want to Be a Famous Transgender Girl”


Self-portrait of a future star.

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.

21 thoughts on ““I Want to Be a Famous Transgender Girl”

  1. My oh my… to have that courage at such a young age. And the sense of self. Wow… I struggle with being myself on the outside all the time, and I’m forty four. Good for her teacher. My sister in law is a teacher in grade school with a transgender student, and she’s absolutely wonderful about it. I so love all of this. I was introduced to this blog about the time I was opening up about my sexuality… androgyny and confusion about how in the world I should categorize myself. Different situation, but it’s still fighting what is really pounded into us as a deeply disturbing, negative, flaw in a person. What’s flawed is living in a darkroom your entire life when you are supposed to be living. Living. What a wonderful child, and what a blessing that she has your support. You are a good egg.

    • Good question. I actually will probably never know for sure what happened, and nor will anyone other than my daughter and the other little girl involved. But I do believe it’s most likely that the girl was inventing a story based on something she was told by another child at school. Why do I think this? In part, because the child’s own mother and teacher both said she has a tendency to invent things. And also, I believe my daughter when she tells me she didn’t show the little girl anything. This is because my daughter has always, as far as I know, told me the truth. She has also never hesitated to tell me when she’s told other kids about being transgender. She has in the past allowed other kids to see her naked (while changing to go swimming, for example), and she told me this without shame or hesitation. Lastly, M. has become extremely private about her transgender status (wanting to change in a private area at the swimming pool, for example), so this makes it very unlikely she’d be showing her body to a little girl she hardly knows at school. Of course, I’ll never know for sure what happened, and I don’t think it really matters in the end. What matters is that my child feels safe and loved, and that both children understand that showing each other our “privates” or talking about them isn’t something that really ought to be going on at school – no matter what you’ve got under your skirt.

      • When you were asked about this, did you disclose to the teacher that your child has a history of showing kids “her privates?”

      • The teacher knows all the details, yes. And she also knows that kids don’t have the same ideas about bodies that adults do. Being naked when you are six years old is not a sexual thing – it’s the adults who assign sexual connotations to stuff like this. Little kids – transgender or not – are curious about the world and about bodies. It is natural and innocent. By the way, my kid is not walking around flashing her privates at people. A few of her close friends have seen her naked, yes, when they’ve played dress up together or changed to go swimming. So yeah, they know she’s got a penis. I bet they’ve seen other penises – their brothers’, for example – and emerged unscathed.

      • Thanks for the heads up, but I’m going to pass on reading those comments. I can guess what they’re saying (I’ve had some pretty nasty comments on my blog in the past), and it’s just too painful for me to read that stuff most days. I am fine with people disagreeing or questioning me – but not when they do it in ignorance and without compassion. It’s hard enough parenting a trans kid without attacks from mean people. I wish I had thicker skin sometimes, but even when I know the messages are coming from ill-informed jerks, it still really hurts. 😦

  2. The struggle will always be the struggle, but M’s self-confidence and her family’s love and support have given this young girl the momentum and courage to be in charge of her own destiny…to be her authentic self. As in all transgender children, the world should receive them lovingly with open arms.

  3. I am so sorry for your child. You can’t have a butchy little girl, can you? So you showed her lots of videos to push her into ‘transgender,’ instead? Yes, apparently it did work. Shame on you. Have you started her on hormones yet? Or is that abuse still coming?

    • Kitty Barber, you’ve got it all wrong. The abuse would be if this child was forced to be someone that she’s not, that she’d be denied of her natural rights, which are so blatantly outlined in our constitution, of: life ( because 41% of transgender people will attempt suicide because they’re not accepted), liberty (the freedom for this child to be herself), and the pursuit of happiness (because people who are shamed over their identities don’t live happily). Therefore, raising this child in a way opposite to the way that these parents are raising her would be not only unconstitutional, but abusive.

      Secondly, hormone replacement therapy is given at the onset of puberty, after puberty blocking drugs to delay natural puberty of the biological sex, NOT AT AGE 6! Decisions regarding the health of transgender children aren’t taken lightly, and if kids realize that they’re not transgender, they can fully live as their biological sex.

      Please educate yourself, I’m 15, and I was able to.

      Thank you for your time,
      Matthew James Smith, 15 years old, class of 2017

  4. Your daughter is an inspiration to all human beings. I love the way you teach her respect and love and Grace and kindness – all because you treat her exactly the way you expect her to treat others. Some of the people who read and comment on your blog and other places should learn a lot from you. Keep writing, keep sharing. It’s a beautiful story.

  5. I really love your blog and have read the entire thing this Wednesday night. I feel like I know M and I just want to give her a huge hug! Its amazing to me that someone so young can be so wise, funny, and have a grasp on things almost better than I do at age 19……I really would love to see more pictures of her and her friends and you and the family! I think that would be cool even though I do understand M likes to keep things private. You’re so lucky you ended up with her and I’m so glad she ended up with you! I wish everyone could be accepting….but you are helping to get everyone closer to that. I am sharing this with everyone I know and than you for helping the world understand and please thank M for me too. I promise her when she is in high school people will be much more accepting than they are now and as things get to be more accepted the more people actually come out about things so she will have even more people to talk to than she already does. I hope and I KNOW she will be a “famous transgender girl” and I give her mad props for knowing what she wants at age 6! incredible. I’m cheering for her in California and I’ll be cheering for her forever. Go M!

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