My youngest child has always been a tomboy. I had so much trouble getting her in a dress over the years. I loved how she was willing to get into anything with gusto including playing AFL as good as any of the guys, riding a motorbike with confidence, or riding BMX bikes up jumps and down dips.
We used to watch the movie Charlie’s Angels and I would suggest how they all could do such amazing things in the daytime, but they still made themselves look nice when the day was done. I tried to convince her to get in that dress and look ‘feminine’. I feel a little bad about that now, in hindsight.
There were times that I thought to myself that my daughter might be a lesbian. In the playground at school when other kids were having pretend weddings between boys and girls, my little one would be one of two girls at the pretend alter beside the playground tree.
When the girls in the playground started to get a bit nasty to each other, my little one couldn’t really handle it and went to hang out with the boys.
One night over dinner my two teenagers were having a little mock fight with each other for attention. The younger one was making fun of the older one’s choice of fashion or some such thing and said to him ‘You’re so gay!’ and the usual childish response was ‘No, you’re gay!’, as if it were an insult to each other (like kids often do).
I pulled them up and told them off, saying: “Nobody calls anyone gay like it is an insult in this house.”
It was then my youngest said: “I’m not gay actually. I know what I am, I’m non-binary transgender.”
It is embarrassing now to admit that I had no clue what that was at the time. But I remained calm and poker-faced, and asked to hear more about it.
Since then the journey has been a little bumpy at times. I’ve had to adjust and learn some new things. I’ve often felt that I’ve done my best to get this all right with the learning of a new language filled with new pronouns. My auto-pilot thinking that I had a girl had to be rewired and it took some time to think about the ‘them/their’ person before me.
Mamamia’s daily entertainment podcast, The Spill, discuss Charlize Theron’s interview about her transgender daughter. Post continues below.
Many of the extended family have been pretty good, but some really just can’t disconnect the body parts from the identity and refuse to call him anything other than ‘she/her’. My 80-year-old parents were some of the most understanding, yet some of the younger ones not so. It isn’t a generational matter for acceptance, but individuals.
I had a cousin all of a sudden start being an activist on Facebook about recent changes in schools and trying to stop transgender bathroom solutions, and demanding children remain either male or female. It was hurtful, and to trans children it really makes them feel like something is wrong with them.