A new family moved into the empty house next door. We were so excited because they had two children, that we hoped would make great playmates for my son. One is just a year younger, and the other, a few years older than he is. But both kids are super-friendly and always outside awaiting their next playtime adventure!
I’ve grown quite fond of both kids, and are delighted to see them hanging out with my son on a daily basis. But one of them is a bit different, she is a he. We refer to him by her male birthname, for the privacy well refer to her as Michael, and she doesn’t seem to have any interest into changing or feminizing it.
When I first met Michael, I knew instantly that I was being introduced to a little boy. His father told me about his 7-year-old son before I ever met him. When I finally did met him, he was outside playing basketball in a non-descript T-shirt and basketball shorts. This of course doesn’t mean you’re a boy, but it reinforces the visual perception of gender. Michael keeps her hair long, but so do a lot of other boys so that didn’t seem feminine to me. In fact, there was nothing unusual about Michael, at least not until the day they came over to swim.
Michael and his younger sister became my son’s first pool guests. They swam for a couple hours, and rightly so, were pretty tired. As Michael began to exit the pool, I went to grab his sandals. His sandals were sitting next to his sisters, both were the same type of sandal but were obviously two different sizes and two different colors. The larger sandals were pink, and the smaller ones were red. Based on color, I went to grab the smaller, red sandals. Michael’s mother quickly pointed out, “Oh, his sandals are the pink ones.” I smiled, embarrassed by my obvious mistake and handed over the pink sandals.
I made a quick mental note as to the odd-nature of a boy having pink sandals, but boys wear pink shirts these days, so why not sandals. I didn’t think anything else of it until a few days later I saw Michael wearing purple and pink leggings. Now I knew something was off.
Michael wears a lot of feminine clothes, but doesn’t necessarily act like a girl. He likes swords, seems obsessed with Filipino martial arts, likes to play with guns, and doesn’t seem to have the least bit of interest in dolls or tea parties. But for some reason he is very attracted to girls’ clothing. Based on this (and the fact that I have no license in psychology), I have no idea if he is struggling with gender issues or not.
Forward to the first day of school. Excitedly, my husband and I stood outside waiting for my son’s teacher to open the door. As we waited, Michael shows up with his father for his first day of class also. Michael is wearing a dress with matching tights, and a headband to match. He looks like a girl.
One could argue that his transgender attire is a bit too much for the first day of school. Maybe they should ease the class into his girl-style. But I thought, why not see him as a girl from the very beginning. Maybe the kids will never know the difference, and will except him as a her. Maybe her masculine name won’t even phase her 8-year-old counterparts. Lots of girls have masculine sounding names like Quinn and Troy. In fact, some of my favorite names for girls are Aiden and Knight.
There have been some famous cases of children struggling with this very issue. One such child, Tracey Wilson (pictured above), is fighting to her sex reassigned from a boy to a girl on her birth certificate.
What happens the day one of his classmates asks, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Will Michael think of herself as a girl, or will she refer to her sex assignment at birth? I can’t imagine having to make such a decision in elementary school. But if she wants to be a girl, I’m sure all will be fine until puberty where her masculinity will start to protrude past her feminine wiles.
For now, I think the secret’s safe with us. My son is certainly not to reveal to the world that that girl is a boy, I’m not even sure if he really understands what Michael is, or more importantly, if he cares.
I’m not sure how Michael’s classmates will receive her. I hope well because she’s a great kid.