I know I said I was going to write Part 2 about how to talk to schools, and I will, but remember this blog is also for me. It is a small stage to talk about how I’m feeling, and quite honestly how I think any dad should feel when it comes to their kid…straight, gay, lesbian, gender-fluid, or transgender…which is to say that none of that stuff should even come into play where our love for our children is concerned.
Almost a week has gone by since Fab proclaimed to the world that she had arrived and was not going anywhere, and so here I sit at 12:33 am on the first Sunday of November 2016 pondering my thoughts from the past week. I never really had to mourn for a son lost, and for me the hardest part of it all has been adjusting to pronouns, and taking care of the myriad of administrative things that need to be done, to make sure that the path is clear for her to have as normal a childhood as possible.
I realize that in less than a week no part of me sees the boy that I “thought” used to be there. Fab is my little girl, period, and my wife would tell you we already have that kind of bond. I think she is the bravest, most courageous little girl I know, and I know there are times already when she has doubted the words in the above image…well, except maybe the smarter, because she’s pretty cocky when it comes to her intelligence, but honestly I would say the above words to anyone’s daughter, be they cis-gendered or transgender.
When I look at Fab, I don’t think of her as my transgender daughter, I think of her as my daughter…the little girl who loves the color pink, her stuffed animal collection, animals, her dogs, her brother, her mother, and me. She already battles at times with her mother like a thirteen year-old girl, but she also sees her mother as her most important confidant, who is always there to listen without judgement…even though I think there are times when my wife is ready to kill her.
Her relationship with her brother, which borders on the kind that twins have, is something special to watch. She has a need to be near him, and he to her. I’ll catch them sometimes holding hands, or her leaning with her head on his shoulder as if their unconscious bond is something that could never be broken, and I am happy that they have this kind of bond. It will serve them both well as they grow into adulthood. I don’t talk about him much on here, but he might be one of the sweetest, most genuine kids I’v ever known. He can’t stand to upset his mother or I, to the point of tears when he does. He doesn’t understand aggressive or mean people. With that said, I’ve seen him stand up to a playground bully four years his senior when that bully targeted Fab. He’s her little rock, and I’m her big rock.
In my forties now, I am still a big, powerful man. I still workout regularly, play soccer (goalkeeper, so a little crazy) on Sundays, and look like a bigger, stronger version of my younger self…with maybe a little more “love” around my mid-section. In me, my family sees safety. I’m the family security blanket. When I travel for work, everyone, even the dogs are less relaxed, which I admit brings a smile to my face to know I’m wanted at home.
When it comes to Fab, her mother is her confidant, but I am who she looks to for that final approval that it is OK to jump, because she knows I’ll be there to catch her. When Fab decides to jump she does it with both feet, fearless and with her chin held high, but before doing so I have to let her know that it is OK, that her mother and I love her, and what clothes she wears, or her gender have no bearing on that fact.
She begins school on Monday in a dress for the first time, fully as the gender she identifies with. She will go to school with bright pink nails on her fingers and toes from her first mani/pedi with her mom. The dress she will wear, well, she and I will go shopping to find the perfect one tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll know it when we see it, and I hope it will give her the confidence to keep that chin up and a smile on her face.
The school has been informed, meetings have been held, and there is an excitement and nervousness that seems to emanate from Fab’s core. Her friends, those wonderful little girls who have yet to be taught to judge others, accept her completely and can’t wait to see what Fab wears on Monday. Her teacher, is equally excited, as are a few other ladies who have a special place in their heart for my little girl.
Almost a week in, and this is our new normal, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I don’t believe in regrets, or in looking back to things that might have been changed. Fab and her brother were precious gifts to us, a couple that could not have kids of their own. People said when we adopted them that it was such a wonderful thing we were doing for them, but they’ve made us better, more complete people. We always saw ourselves as the lucky ones in the equation to get such loving, happy children.
Now our normal has changed once again. No kids, to two kids, and now two “boys”, to a son and daughter. I know we need to have the transgender conversation with her. Teach her more about what it means to be a “girl with a penis,” but I figure there is time for that, and part of my lapse is because when I’m with her, I don’t think about that stuff. We know there will be ugly people she will have to deal with, and we hope that the sass and wit she already shows will serve her in dealing with these people.
For now, she is almost a week old as a girl, and I’ve heard girls are allowed to celebrate their birthdays for a month…so, if that is true then she doesn’t need to worry about anything but finding out the type of girl she is and wants to be. I can, and will run interference for her a little bit longer.
I know there is much the two of us have to still learn about navigating life as father and daughter, but I’d like to think that we’ve made a pretty good start of it. There will be fights and frustrations in our future. I’m sure there will be nights I hold her while she cries, but in those same moments there’s a feeling that runs deep in me that I was made to do this, and to be this little girl’s daddy. I wouldn’t change one hair on her blonde little head. Perhaps, there was a guy a few weeks back if he had the power, would have made her a happy boy who was happy to be a boy, but that guy went away when I finally got to see Fab for who she really was. As I sit here, and brush a tear from my eye, swallow a lump in my throat…I’m sorry I ever felt that way, she’s perfect to me, and I’m simply a lucky man to have this little girl tell me she loves me every day, and to hear her call me daddy.