I’ve mentioned my transgender daughter. It’s such a complex issue. (Duh.) When she told me, on February 1, 2013, I was prepared. I sort of already knew what I was about to find out. We had engaged in conversations about equality, same-sex marriage, and similar topics. I’d started noticing that she preferred video games with female protagonists; in playing games where you create your own character, her characters were always women. So when she said she wanted to talk, and then hemmed and hawed and kept darting her eyes all around the room, I tried to make it easier by asking, “Is this about gender?” She literally underwent a physical transformation at having it finally out in the open. Seriously, she looked happier, almost glowing. It was a beautiful thing.
She reminded me of a time when she was in elementary school and said to me, “Sometimes I wish I was a girl.” She said that feeling never went away. She also said she’s attracted to women; so she’s not only a transgender woman, she’s a gay transgender woman. My major reactions to all this were: 1) profound sadness that she suffered through this all by herself for so many years; and 2) fear for her because of how transgender people are treated out in the world.
People typically don’t understand transgender. Many people see it as a choice, when it literally is a gender correction; this is a female person who was born into a male body. The first thing I did was to set K up with a psychiatrist, whose first act was to send her to a physician for blood work. The lab result was that her estrogen level is high, her testosterone level is low. There is actually a physical basis in her case–not that one is needed. How she identifies is the most important thing. She once mentioned being annoyed at something she saw online that expressed admiration at how women deal with their periods. She said it should say how people deal with their periods–men and women. I was trying to wrap my head around what that meant (“Do post-surgical transgender women menstruate? How does that happen?”), and K rolled her eyes at me and said, “I’m a woman with a penis….”