I wanna recommend a podcast! It’s called How To Be A Girl. A while back ago, I had been following a blog, gendermom, on wordpress. It’s written by Marlo Mack (pseudonym), about life with her (now) 8 year-old transgender daughter, M. I really love reading/hearing from the perspective of parents, especially parents of young trans-kids. And this one in particular has a lot of input from the daughter. They are in it together.
In the summer of 2014, she branched out and also started producing a podcast. At first I was reluctant to check it out. I guess because although I was listening to some podcasts at that time, I preferred reading and connecting through blogs. But then one of the episodes was featured on a podcast I was already a big fan of, Here Be Monsters, and I made a mental note to go check out the rest of the episodes. It’s taken a while, but here I am to say it’s great, haha. I listened through episodes 1-6 twice now…
The first three establish some backstory and facts (I’m not going to give too much away!). At this point, M is 6, and she has the support of her mom and dad (who are divorced) and other family members and friends. Hardly anyone knows that she is trans (better to be more cautious at first and see how things might play out). She had been saying she is a girl, basically as early as she could talk, and although it took a long time to convince her parents, they are fully on board now. She likes the color pink, my little ponies, stuff like that…
Episode 4 is called Tom Boy Trans Girl, and it’s about, how girly do you have to be to be considered a girl? There are plenty of tomboys out there… M gradually shifts to liking blue over pink and getting into Pokemon and ninjas. Marlo Mack is afraid the being-a-girl thing was just a phase. M sums everything up super succinctly.
Episode 5 is about finding love. Marlo Mack has to navigate through transphobia from potential dating partners, and she talks about how she handles it. M also tells a love story.
Episode 6 is super cute. It is a straight-up interview, Marlo Mack asking M a bunch of questions. The perspective of this 6-year-old is really amazing and surprising. Well, she’s been through a lot, so I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising!
Some talk about the other episodes, coming soon!
My spouse and I have been talking about the idea of working on a podcast together. We have a local community of radio people we can plug into / in with, and I already do a weekly music show. This would be totally different though, and would involve a steep learning curve. We got some books out of the library (always a good place to start!), and I’ve been trying to pull apart, think about the elements that go into the podcasts I do listen to: the way the sound editing overlaps, the hooks to keep you listening, stuff like that. We’ll see. I think it would be a lot of work, but could be really rewarding.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about work. During my depression, I was in and out of work a few times, totaling 8 weeks of sick leave. It’s been difficult to get back into the swing of things. Some changes were made, and I wasn’t in the best place to acclimate to new routines. It’s starting to get a little better, just in time to get disrupted again for summer cleaning (switching from an afternoon/night shift to a day shift starting the week after next.)
But this post isn’t really about that work stuff. It’s about something that brightened my day yesterday. A parent of a student saw me as male, and it made my day. I know the term “passing” is problematic because it connotes a deception is taking place and it sets up a discrepancy amongst those who “pass” and those who don’t – it shouldn’t be about that! We are who we are. Despite all this, I really like the word and feel like it describes my experience.
Here’s a few past posts where I talk about it:
Recent instances of passing
Passing as a teenager yet again
Thirty-one year old kid working as a school janitor
Rumors flying around the kindergarten classroom
I feel like people generally see me as female. I gotta say I’m even (very pleasantly) surprised when I’m seen as male; I feel I am not masculine enough. When I am seen as male, “passing” accurately describes the experience, because I am not male (I am definitely not female either).
Yesterday, a dad and his son approached me while I was cleaning. The son forgot his spelling homework and had to get access to his classroom. I said sure and which room and we went there. I unlocked the door, turned on the lights, and stood waiting, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. The kid came back from his desk with a book but no spelling homework. The dad asked,
“Where’s your homework?”
The kid sputtered, “I guess when we were clearing out our desks I must have put it in my bag? But I do need this book.”
“So we just bothered this gentleman for no reason?”
I said, “That’s totally fine. At least you got your book!”
The dad continued, “Tell him you’re sorry.”
“Not a problem. You guys have a good night.”
I was conversing with these people and spending more than a second in their presence. And the dad saw me as male!!! And whether the kid knows I’m biologically female (I’m not out at work… yet!) he didn’t say anything one way or the other. It felt really validating. I held onto that feeling as long as I could.
In other news, the NY Times is giving trans-people an opportunity to tell their story in 400 words or less. It’s totally awesome! Here’s the link to what’s out there already, and a chance to share your own story: Tell your story. I already told my story!
I got asked a fun question a couple of weeks ago. A reader asked,
If you were to create a new line of barbies (and friends) for tomboys (or whatever you prefer to say) what would that line look like?
I would make a lot of changes to the barbie doll. First and foremost, the bodily dimensions would resemble the range of shapes and sizes that people actually are. When I think of a barbie, the image that comes to mind is a naked doll with these weird neutered bodies and impossible measurements – for some reason, a naked barbie seems more common than a clothed one. Kids get lazy and leave them around without dressing them? For this reason, these new dolls would have clothes that don’t really come off. When I think of people, they are clothed. When I think of myself, I am clothed. Although it’s fun to interchange clothes, these dolls would just wear clothes and then they’d be versatile in other ways.
They’d have knees and elbows that bend better than barbies, and they’d have hands that grip better. There’d be interactive toys to go along with them, but they wouldn’t be dream mansions and safari jeeps and jet skis. There’d be homes with the roofs removed and different things to do in each room – frying pans and food ingredients, TVs and computers and books, brooms and vacuum cleaners. Gardening tools and bikes and basketball hoops.
I would rename these barbies “People.” They would reflect different experiences – different ethnicities, different ages, different sizes, different abilities. One or two might be in a wheelchair. One might be gender-ambiguous. There would be babies and children, adults and old people.
These “People” would hopefully appeal to boys, girls, tomboys, and other gender non-conforming children. Playing with them would center around realistic life choices instead of fashion and glitz and glamor. It’d be a lot like playing house, with plenty of interchangeable activities and roles to experiment with different configurations.
And now for the fantastical part – these products would be manufactured by people making a living wage and they would be an affordable toy option. Haha.
Anyone have other ideas for a more gender variant version of barbie?
Yesterday, my partner and I met up with my childhood best friend and her family; they were in town for the holidays. They have two kids, ages 6 and 3, and the three year old was overwhelmingly interested in me. I’ve never had this experience before – usually kids stay their distance, giving me sideways glances or staring and staring and staring. I’ve been interacting with kids more at school (while I’m working) a little more lately, realizing that although I’m a janitor, I am also an authority figure they see regularly, who can help point them to preferable behaviors. (No running, no going down steps sideways, no slamming and throwing your garbage in the general area of the garbage barrel at lunch, etc.)
This was a very different dynamic though. We were hanging out at a nearby public greenhouse and plant conservatory, and the three-year-old daughter took any opportunity to climb all over me, instruct me to pick her up and throw her up in the air, and get right in my face. She was overhearing everyone use male pronouns for me, and she yelled, 2 inches away from my face, “you’re a girl!” And then again. And again. “You’re a girl!” We all laughed. It was funny. Because she’s three. It was also the most jarring thing I have experienced in a very long time. Her mom went ahead and explained very simply and directly that I get to say who I am, not her, and everyone has their own feelings about who they are, and only they get to say. She tested this with, “you’re a boy!” but then went on to state, “I’ve never seen a boy who sounds like a girl.” “I’ve never seen a boy who looks like a girl.” And again. And again. Holy cow, kids love repetition!!!
She also declared many times that I am her mama. Whoa. (She later clarified that she was making a joke.) Again, all of this is funny and easy to let slide because she is a three year old, but I gotta admit it was actually hitting my psyche a little bit. It helped that her mom (my friend), let us know she often does this. She’s super outgoing, and she’ll hone in on one adult of a group she’s with, and that person is 9 times out of 10 the most handsome adult male of the group. I’ll take it!
I have been considering what might happen if I increased my testosterone levels. And these exchanges really sunk in, as one more thing, in a way that makes me feel motivated to move in that direction where I appear and sound more masculine. I am still positive that I do not want to live my life as a visible male, but how cool would it be if people had some serious trouble knowing? I would love that (as long as they were respectful in the not-knowing).
This kid’s reaction was interesting, because usually it’s kids more than anyone else, who are not quite sure whether I am a girl or a boy. If I am asked this question, it’s coming from a child. I’m usually not told, strongly and forcefully, by someone making eye contact, two inches away from my face! Haha.
Yesterday, I worked a 13.5 hour day. Hello overtime! My supervisor called to see if I could come in early; she had to get to an appointment. So I was actually at school while the kids were still there, seeing lots of daily goings-on. I’ve done this before, but it’s been a while. A couple of highlights:
– Lunch choices were turkey and gravy or barbecue chicken. I don’t eat meat. I got salad.
– We’re waiting on a delivery of paper towels, so when a classroom ran out (happened 3 times, because we’ve been running low for a while), I had to resort to our back-stock of Bounty. Where all this Bounty came from, I have no idea. It’s way more plush than the stuff the school gets on order though.
– I cleaned a stain off the upholstered dividers we use in the cafeteria.
– I helped two kids walk across the cross-walk out on the bus loop at the end of the day.
– Kids love to stare at me! (Kids love to stare in general.)
– I found a big bag of candy busted open in the trash, toward the end of the night. Whoppers, Almond Joys, Reese’s, Hershey’s Cookies ‘n Cream, etc. My coworker totally caught me fishing them all out, but, that’s alright, I don’t care. He’s seen me digging through garbage so many times.
So, kids! I have no idea how their day was or what they learned or if they made a new friend yesterday. But I do know that the turkey and gravy did not go over so well, that someone in Ms. B’s class really needs to learn how to pee into a toilet, and that they love to bring pebbles from the playground into the building.