This week M. had an afterschool playdate with Sophie, one of her best friends from school. When I arrived in the evening to pick M. up, Sophie ran by me wearing nothing but a pair of underpants and a table cloth tied around her waist. M. chased after her, shirtless. I don’t know what game they were playing, but it looked fun.
Sophie’s dad handed me a beer. “Ahh, such calm, demure little girls.”
Maybe I shouldn’t feel this way, but I felt grateful for how casually he lumped my child into the girl group along with his. I sat with Sophie’s parents sipping beers and finally got to hear, firsthand, how they found out that M. is transgender.
“Sophie said to me, ‘Daddy, what’s the difference between boys and girls?’ So I said, ‘Well, umm, girls have vaginas…’”
Sophie didn’t let him finish. “She rolled her eyes and gave me a look,” Sophie’s dad said.
I’ve seen that look. Sophie is not a child to be trifled with. Certainly not by her dad, the neurologist. What does he know?
“And she said, ‘Gosh, Daddy, don’t you know that some girls have penises?’ And she walked off, shaking her head at how stupid I was, I guess.”
I love Sophie.
The girls ran into the room, squealing, red-faced and panting. “I’m hot!” M. said. She peeled off her pants and tossed them to me.
Sophie pointed at us and shrieked. “Parent monsters!” Her dad growled and the two kids wearing nothing but underpants squealed and fled the room.
“Sophie’s really protective of M., of not telling any of the other kids at school,” Sophie’s mom said. “Sometimes, she’ll correct other kids who don’t know M. If they try to tell her that boys and girls have certain body parts, she sets them straight, telling them ‘Well, MY best friend is a girl, and she has a penis.’”
I wrote about Sophie’s fierce loyalty to M. in a previous post, when M. first told Sophie in kindergarten that she was “a girl with a penis.” We weren’t really using the term “transgender” yet. It seemed like an awfully big word for a five year old.
Sophie’s mom asks if there’s a training or class she could attend in order to learn more about transgender kids. I tell her I’ll look into it. It’s the day before Thanksgiving. I feel close to crying. I try to explain to them the significance of the gift that their daughter has given to mine. How can I ever measure the impact on M. of this early loyalty, of having her very first best friend accept her so thoroughly and reflexively, from the very beginning? “It’s incalculable,” is all I can say to Sophie’s parents. Her mom looks like she might cry, too. Her dad smiles shyly and nods.
This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for sassy little Sophie.