Sleepovers are a right of passage for so many kids throughout the country. Girls often start having sleepovers at a younger age, but boys eventually get in on the action as well. For most parents the worries stick to questions about the parents. Will the parents be home? Are the parents responsible? Simply put, the overarching question is: Can I trust them with my child?
Parents of transgender children are most concerned with the last question, and concern centers around the question of “What should I share?” Now, all parents are free to decide for themselves on what to share with others. This blog is from my perspective, and as such, is not a commandment all parents of transgender children have to follow. Every family is different, and so a choice like this must be weighed by examining a variety of a family’s own circumstances. I can only discuss our perspective as it relates to Fab, and from there we have to go with our gut that we have made the right choice regarding her well-being.
I have heard some parents say emphatically that it is no one else’s business what is between their child’s legs, and that their child is 100% stealth and no one else needs to know. I agree in principle with their statement. I don’t think other parents need to know what is between my daughter’s legs, and wish that the fact she lives as a little girl should be enough for other parents to welcome my daughter into their home simply because their daughter is friends with mine, but this scenario leaves out my biggest concern.
See, I am not worried about the other parents’ feelings. To be honest, I couldn’t give two shits what they think of me as a parent, or if they are comfortable with my child. However, I do care about what they think as it relates to my child’s safety. Often times we don’t know the friends of our children’s parents that well, and in Mom’s eyes and mine we see this as a potential danger. Now, for us the choice is simple. Fabulous came out during the school year, so most kids know she was living as a boy before. How many parents know this we are uncertain of. Fab has participated in sleepovers with her best friend, and the mothers of both little girls who were also there know about Fab, and are supportive of her. However, the day may come when she asks to sleepover at another girl’s house, and those parents may know nothing about Fab being transgender. What will we do then?
Our stance is much like that of Jazz Jenning’s parents, and that is, the parents need to know. I don’t know if these other parents are supportive of Fab’s right to exist, or if they are trans-phobic. As her parent I control the narrative still, she’s seven, and so there is a level of protection that I still need to provide. If we choose to keep quiet, and she goes over to her friends then we lose the narrative. If over at a friend’s house and it comes out (someone walks into the bathroom and sees, or she says something, or it comes out another way) and the parents are trans-phobic, then we have placed our baby in the lion’s den, exposing her to God knows what until we get her home. Sharing with the parents lets us know up front if Fab will be safe. If the parents are not OK with it, then tears may result, but I’d rather tears for us saying no, then tears or worse, because of things other adults might say or do to my child while she is out of reach. This rule also hold’s true if kids are to come over to our house for a sleepover. I would rather a parent say no up front, then to have it come out later and find out people have been badmouthing Fab because we chose to keep a secret.
I would like to say we live in a world where if Fab says she is a girl then everyone would see her that way, but that isn’t the way the world really works. I see a little girl, her mother sees a little girl, and for those who didn’t know her before, that is how she is seen by strangers. It would be very easy to let the world see what they want, and in most situations that will be our approach, but as she gets older we want Fab to be proud of who she is, and never to be ashamed that she is transgender. Of course, in a few years she will have a say in how she wants to be seen, and to what degree she wants to share her uniqueness. For now, much is left to us, because she doesn’t care about labels and she doesn’t worry about what the greater world thinks.
I could get into the whole dating issue, but she is only seven. Suffice it to say that when the time comes we will also have the same rule for dating. Until she is 18, anyone she might date should know she is transgender, as should their parents, for the same reasons outlined above.
For now, dating is far into the distance, and thankfully as of right now she only wants to do sleep overs with girls whose parents know she is transgender and love that she has the courage to be herself.