His or Her Graduation




My youngest child, Marie, will be graduating from high school at the American School for the Deaf in Hartford this week. When she came to live with us at the age of 7, her wild child behavior was so bad I never thought either of us would live to see this day. But here it is! She surprised me, this child of mine who prefers to look and dress like a boy, for which with her abuse history, her justification has always been “if you look like a girl, someone will hurt you.” She has chosen to wear a dress for graduation, the very same dress she wore uncomfortably as a junior bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding. Even though that was several years ago, she is determined to squeeze every ounce of flesh into the dress. It is fortunate she will also be wearing a graduation gown or I am sure something would get flashed somewhere!

Although she insisted on wearing her work boots with the dress, I convinced her to wear something “less hot because the day will be warm out.” She agreed to a slide on sandal, and I have chosen a pair that could be used by any sex, (once you take the bows off.)

But my choice of shoe for her makes me wonder if I have not totally accepted her for the person she feels to be. I know many parents would have great difficulty understanding if their son or daughter were gay or transgendered. Marie insisted for many years that she was a boy “inside” and even begged her pediatrician to sew a penis on her. He was very sweet with her, and suggested she wait until she was a teenager before discussing that issue again. After much counseling, it was determined she felt that way only out of desire to be safe, to no longer be abused as she had when she was a young child. Being a boy is still a façade she wishes to project, but not one she innately embraces.

Which brings us to the most recent lifelong dilemma; whether she was going to love boys or girls, a discussion SHE initiated one day. She went back and forth on the pros and cons of both. Bravely, taking a deep breath, I mentioned it would be best to love the person she would feel most comfortable having sex with. Her eyes widened. “SEX?” she asked incredibly, with great disgust. “I never want to have sex with ANYONE!” Too funny! I really jumped the gun!

Despite my desire to buy her flip-flops with bows on them, I really WOULD have accepted her decision to wear work boots, or even to have her doctor sew a penis on her if she was truly transgendered. I have survived my life by learning not to get upset over such matters; it wouldn’t change anything and would only draw us apart, possibly ruining our relationship for years to come. I love my daughter too much and will support whatever adult decision she makes. When she is older and still finding her way in the world, she won’t remember the shoes she wore at graduation. But she will remember my unconditional love and support. What more could a parent ask for?



Comments on: "His or Her Graduation" (7)

  1. georgiakevin said:

    i thank God for Moms like you. Congratulations to you both.

  2. Indeed, what more could a child ask for?

  3. Wow, just think how much better off our world would be if everyone was as loving and nonjudgmental as you. Congratulations to both you and your daughter on her amazing achievement!

  4. Oh so beautiful. There are days when I think my journey has been so long, so varied, that even I cannot remember the child I was; the teenager I was (although I am quite certain I was more mature then, that at any other time in my life. And I am not being facile, it is a reflection that at that time I had the least support and the greatest need to get my street smart going); the honeymooner; etc, etc, etc. I have a girlfriend who only ever wore a dress twice in her life. She was often accused of being lesbian. I can assure you she is not. She is almost seventy now, and all I ask of her, is that she wear her newest and neatest tracksuit to any formal events we attend together (on her occasional visits here). And on another note, I was talking to a woman just last night, whose four year old has just announced that she wants her nick-name to be … “penis!” Who knows where she picked that up. Mum is dealing with it 🙂

  5. Wow, if everyone should be so lucky to have such a loving, accepting mother! Remind her that it’s okay NOT to choose any label or gender and it’s okay to (eventually, and safely) date lots of types of people. Also remind her that it’s okay to be asexual – there are many and they are often overlooked! Congratulations to you both!!

  6. I love this post. Thank you. (And I think your footwear suggestion was perfect.)

  7. you’ve summed it up beautifully she will remember her moms unconditional love, not the shoes she wore, what a beautiful post ❤ xox

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