I’m doing it again. I’m writing about something in the life of one of my children that is basically none of my business.
For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been telling myself not to write about my son’s friend.
She’s not a close friend of his, so I don’t really know her. Also, my son never mentioned anything about what she was going through until my husband and I asked. Most of all, her life is absolutely none of my business.
I’ve only made it my business because she’s requiring me to confront my own biases and beliefs.
I’ve always considered myself open-minded and accepting, but her situation made me dig a bit deeper. And, in light of recent headlines about Caitlyn Jenner, the timing couldn’t have been better.
You see, my son’s friend is physically a boy. At least for the moment. But my son and his friends call her she because that is what she wants.
When my husband and I saw her wearing a dress for the first time, we thought maybe she had a lost a bet. And when we asked our son about it, he said “she’s transitioning,” as though it was no big deal.
It was a big deal to my husband and me.
“Shouldn’t he wait to make that decision until he’s out of high school?” my husband asked.
“Why should she wait to be the person she is?” my son replied, making a point about which pronoun he used,
He seems unfazed about the whole situation.
I, on the other had, was having a difficult time wrapping my head around the situation. I have volunteered side by side with the friend’s mother, and my thoughts kept going to her. Or, maybe, they were really going back to me.
Because I know without a doubt that if my son were to come to me and tell me he was a woman trapped in a male body, I would have a very difficult time coming to terms with the situation.
I would probably ask him to wait a few years before he did anything about it – just to be sure. And, truthfully and sadly, I would be very concerned about what others thought about my family. I hate feeling like that, but it’s the truth.
I was sharing this with a friend, who told me a story about her niece, once her nephew, who had transitioned in high school.
At the time, my friend’s children were in elementary school, and she had to explain the situation to them before a family gathering.
The nephew who was transitioning was the youngest, and apparently the quietest, of three boys.
“He won’t be quiet anymore,” my friend’s son said.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I’m eight years old,” her son said. “I’m always around girls. I live with my sister. I go to school with girls. I play sports with girls. I have experience with girls, and girls are anything but quiet. Things are going to change.”
That was the extent of his concern about his male cousin becoming a female.
His observations may have been a bit sexist and not entirely logical, but they illustrate a wisdom that adults often lose. He was focused on his cousin’s personality, not whether he was a she.
It’s something my son understands and something I need to remember.
Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.